The Fairfield Stags are defensive-minded and slow on offense out of necessity these days. With several key players out due to or recovering from injury, fourth-year Coach Ed Cooley cannot employ the frenetic pace he prefers. Fairfield, a member of the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference, is 2-0 heading into Tuesday night's match-up against Maryland at Comcast Center.
After finishing 17-15 last season, the Stags returned several key players. Then the injury bug hit and dealt a setback to the team's prospects. Senior forward Greg Nero (6-foot-7, 215 lbs.), the team's top returning overall player (12.4 ppg, 6.4 rpg in '08-09), may miss the season due to sinus surgery he underwent in the offseason.
On the other hand, senior forward Anthony Johnson (6-foot-8, 245 lbs.) actually is healthy after sitting out half of last season due to blood clots in his lungs. Johnson has tallied 15.5 points and 10 rebounds per game this season. Starting alongside Anthony Johnson in the frontcourt is Shimeek Johnson (not related). Shimeek Johnson (6-foot-7, 197 lbs.) redshirted last season and is averaging 11 points and 9.5 rebounds per game through two games this year.
Fairfield is starting two freshmen -- Derek Needham and Colin Nickerson -- in its backcourt. Needham (5-foot-11, 180 lbs.) will run the point, while Nickerson (6-foot-3, 150 lbs.) plays off the ball. Through two games, Needham is leading the Stags in scoring with 16.5 points per game. Fairfield's three-guard lineup is rounded out by junior Lyndon Jordan (6-foot-2, 180 lbs.), who is averaging 6 points per game so far.
Sophomore guard Jamal Turner (6-foot-4, 190 lbs.) is Fairfield's leading option off the bench. The Stags' top long-range reserve threat is senior forward Mike Evanovich (6-foot-8, 220 lbs.). He shot 33.8 percent from beyond the arc last season.
Rounding out the Stags' frontcourt options is sophomore Ryan Olander (6-foot-11, 226 lbs.). He did not produce much last year (3.4 ppg, 2.6 rpg), but is expected to take on a larger role this season. In two games, Olander has averaged 8 points and 4 rebounds per game.
Junior forward Yorel Hawkins (6-foot-5, 207 lbs.) underwent appendix surgery in the offseason and has yet to play. Last year, he tallied 8.4 points and 5.7 rebounds per game. Junior forward Warren Edney (6-foot-5, 204 lbs.) is recovering from an ankle injury and also has not played yet this season. Edney, a native of Vienna who attended James Madison High, tallied 9.1 points per game last season.
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