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Scouting Florida Atlantic

Mike Jarvis has led three different programs (Boston University, George Washington and St. John's) to the NCAA tournament during his career, but the second-year Florida Atlantic coach has quite a bit more work to do if he plans to add a fourth team to that list. The Owls finished 6-26 (2-16 in Sun Belt play) last season during Jarvis's first campaign at the school and are off to a 5-6 start this season.

Florida Atlantic has nine players on its roster this season that were not there last year and possesses just five returning members. The school offered $99 all-you-can-eat upgrades to its season-ticket holders, if that provides any additional perspective on the current stage at which the program is situated.

"In our attempt to build this program, we couldn't be in a better position in the sense of being able to play so many young kids," Jarvis said in a phone interview. "We think in terms of the season, of the long-term, as opposed to one game."

Two true freshmen lead the way for the Owls. Diminutive point guard Raymond Taylor (5-foot-6, 145 lbs.) runs the offense, while Greg Gantt (6-foot-2, 205 lbs.) fills out the other backcourt spot.

Taylor is the team's leader in scoring (17.6 ppg) and assists (6.3 apg). He is shooting 38.8 percent from the field and 37.7 percent from three-point range. He also has tallied 19 steals.

"We just put the ball in his hands and said, 'Okay little guy, run this team and do what you can do,'" Jarvis said. "And he's done pretty well."

Jarvis said Taylor reminds him of Shawnta Rogers, who was the Atlantic-10 player of the year in 1998-99 at George Washington under Jarvis. "They were both little guys, and yet they both have incredible influences on the game," Jarvis said.

Gantt is averaging 13.5 points per game while shooting 39.6 percent from the field and 37.7 percent from three-point range. Jarvis described Gantt as a "young, long-armed, left-handed three-point shooter."

"When he's making threes," Jarvis said, "it gives us a chance."

Redshirt junior guard Sanchez Hughley (6-foot-4, 210) completes the Owls' backcourt. Hughley is averaging 8.5 points and 3.9 rebounds per game. He has tallied 15 steals and is shooting 45.6 percent from the field.

While Florida Atlantic's backcourt appears fairly set, its frontcourt has been equally unsettled as Jarvis attempts to find the right combination of players. In their most recent game -- a 77-60 loss to Georgia on Dec. 23 -- the Owls started junior forward Brett Royster (6-foot-8, 235 lbs.) and redshirt sophomore center Justin Davis (6-foot-10, 250 lbs.). Davis is averaging 0.7 points and 2.7 rebounds per game.

Royster, on the other hand, was the team's top rebounder and the Atlantic 10's top shot-blocker last season before taking on a more secondary role this year. Due to Florida Atlantic's influx of young talent, Jarvis said Royster has not been relied on as much for his rebounding and defensive skills.

"Last year we weren't very good," Jarvis said. "So we had to have him block shots because people were out of position. That's not as critical this year because we're starting to play better defense."

Naturally a power forward, Royster has spent some time at small forward this season and mostly has come off the bench. He is averaging 9.4 points and 6.5 rebounds per game. He also has tallied a team-high 38 blocks.

Freshman forward DeMonte Simpson (6-foot-9, 270 lbs.) has spent a good amount of time in the starting lineup. He is averaging 6.3 points and 6.3 rebounds per game, while shooting 51.0 percent from the field. Simpson has proven to be a bit foul-prone early in his college career.

"His best days are ahead of him," Jarvis said of Simpson. "We'd like to get more rebounding out of him, and we will. He's held his own so far."

Other frontcourt options for the Owls are freshmen forwards Jordan McCoy (6-foot-6, 185 lbs.) and Andre Mattison (6-foot-7, 220 lbs.). McCoy is averaging 3.9 points and 4.5 rebounds per game, while Mattison (Coolidge) is averaging 1.2 points and 1.4 rebounds per game.

Providing Florida Atlantic with some backcourt depth are sophomore guards Alex Tucker (5-foot-11, 165 lbs.) and Shavar Richardson (6-foot-3, 180 lbs.). Much like Royster, Tucker and Richardson have had their roles downsized a bit this season after having to carry much heavier loads last year. Last season, Tucker finished second in the league in assists; this year he is spelling Taylor off the bench.

Tucker is averaging 3.8 points and 2.7 rebounds per game, while Richardson is averaging 9.9 points and 2.3 rebounds per game. Richardson is shooting 38.4 percent from the field and 41.9 percent from three-point range.

As a team, the Owls shoot 40.1 percent from the field, 37.6 percent from three-point range and 70.4 percent from the free throw line. The own a -3.8 rebounding margin, a +1.1 turnover margin and a 1.1 assist-to-turnover ratio.

By Steve Yanda  |  December 26, 2009; 9:56 AM ET
Categories:  Men's basketball  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Some thoughts on the ACC
Next: J. Williams, Tucker to start against FAU


They scare me just a little bit (not as much as EKY or W&M though). We haven't done well staying in front of little quick guards, and this guy sounds like a good one. I think Bowie will be getting a lot of PT and we'll need some strong post play from JWill again.

It's funny though, FA's roster dynamic is a lot like Indiana's this season - both were awful last year and now have more talented freshmen who have pushed aside the mediocre starters from last year.

Posted by: Jeremy76 | December 26, 2009 10:49 AM | Report abuse

Poop, If you think MD will suck this year, then go ahead and say it. And some predictions would be nice. Come on, dude. Grow a pair and give us some predictions for MD B-ball this season.
I predict a 5-11 acc record and NIT 2nd round loss. No doubt the FOGS on here will call me crazy. But if we can't beat quality teams out of conference, then why would anyone but the FOG homers think we'll be able to beat quality teams inside the conference.

Posted by: Poopy-McPoop | December 26, 2009 4:38 PM | Report abuse

Damn, Poop. That's harsh. We ain't Kansas, but sure aren't that bad. If we go 5-11 this year, I will officially jump on the drug-addled, ranting Poop bandwagon.

Jordan Williams is getting better every game. When we played Cincy, Wisconsin and Villanova, we didnt' have Dino Gregory and Greivis Vasquez was playing really badly. I think by the end of February this will be a strong team.

This is a senior-dominated team. There should be no excuses for not making the NCAA Tourney and going into at least the 2nd round.

Posted by: larry31 | December 26, 2009 6:53 PM | Report abuse

If I was GW, I'd be stressed. Mike Jarvis has outcoached Gary Williams both when he was at GWU and St. John's. I remember a few BB&T Classic match ups and distinctly recall being concerned that the Terps would meet MJ and St. John's in the NCAA tourney. Let's hope there is no let down in CP on Sunday!

Posted by: TerpGrad | December 26, 2009 11:36 PM | Report abuse

It's good to see the hypen-fake-poop is back confusing the local rubes. Larry31, maybe you should go back to the previous blog entry where I, underscore-Poop said:

"Terps will finish around .500 in the ACC and come selection sunday we'll all be watching and waiting as the Terps, for yet another year post-championship, are a bubble team.

But NEXT year is the real year when our "stud" recruits come in. Oh wait, wasn't that supposed to be this year? Or last year? Or the year before that?"

Posted by: Poopy_McPoop | December 24, 2009 1:31 PM

Of course one has to wonder just how good or bad someones life is when they have to impersonate someone else on an internet blog, but that's a question for another day.

Posted by: Poopy_McPoop | December 27, 2009 2:32 AM | Report abuse

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