Preliminary game #2 for this awesome Philly Classic…*rolls eyes*. Game’s at 7:00 pm, Thursday night at the BJC. It will be streamed online here.
While many will look at Hartford’s results to start this season and make a quick assumption that this team is awful, that is not the case. Yes, they lost to Quinnipac at home by a point and got destroyed against UConn. However, this team returns a lot from last year, when they went 18-16 and made it to the conference championship game. They’ve been predicted to finish in the top 3 of the America East, even first by some people-in-the-know.
They are led by 6-0 Junior G Joe Zeglinski. Listed as a preseason first team All America East, Zeglinski shot 41% from behind the arc last year (and he took 251 attempts). He averaged nearly three 3’s a game and showed he can really get hot (31 points, 9-10 from 3 against New Hampshire). However, he’s gotten off to a rough start to this season and his poor shooting is the main reason Hartford is 0-2. In 34 minutes against Quinnipiac, he shot 1-10 from the field, 0-4 from three, and only scored 2 points. He’s shooting 21 percent for the season, but that will surely rise. Battle and Pringle must be harrassing this guy all night long.
Supporting Zeglinski in the backcourt are a duo of seniors who happen to be co-captains, 6-2 Jaret Von Rosenberg and 6-5 Michael Turner. Ironically both were JuCo transfers and are in their third year with the Hartford program. Turner is the Hawks’ defensive stopper and has the ability to guard anyone on the floor. He averaged 2 steals a game last year while improving dramatically on the offensive end. However, it appears he is overagressive on defense. He fouled out 5 times last season while averaging 3.3 fouls a game. Doesn’t appear he fixed that trend over the offseason, as he already has fouled out against UConn in just 12 minutes. Jaret Von Rosenberg runs the point, taking over the job last season. He’s averaged at least 30 MPG in both his seasons with the Hawks, so he’s experienced. He’s their best foul shooter (86% last season). Does a respectable job running the offense (1.7 A/TO ratio) and also averages close to 2 steals per game.
Rounding out the Hawks’ starting lineup are sophomores 6-7 Kevin Estes and 6-8 Morgan Sabia. They will do their best to replace Warren McClendon’s productions (12 points, 6 boards). However, Morgan Sabia is a versatile big, who averaged 10 points last season as a true freshmen while shooting 41 percent from behind the arc. He’s not a great rebounder and is not a legitimate shot-blocker. Estes beat out fellow sophomore Anthony Minor for the other starting position. He had a rough year last season with a concussion and a long-term illness.
We matchup very well with this team. They’re perimeter-oriented with not a lot of size. They struggle at rebounding (313th in rebounding percentage, even if it’s only just two games), so we must take advantage of cleaning glass. I would like to see us finally attempt some sort of inside game against these guys, but I’m not holding my breath. As long as Zeglinski doesn’t suddenly get hot, we should be able to beat this team handily. If he does, however, anything can happen (see Jimmy Baron vs. Duke). We’ve had a knack of being every slumping shooter’s remedy in recent years, but I believe with Battle and Pringle’s quickness, along with Woodyard’s size that we can defend the perimeter respectably this year. We held Schneider in check opening night, but Zeglinski is better. We must find him out on the arc, all game. If that allows more scoring for Sabia or Van Rosenberg, so be it. Those guys won’t be able to outscore us. I also expect either Brooks or DJ Jackson to be too much for Turner to handle. Won’t surprise me if he’s a non-factor in foul trouble for most of the game.
PREDICTION: I’ll take the good guys, 74-60. Looking forward to seeing more of Cammeron Woodyard, Jeff Brooks under control, Chris Babb not playing like a JVer, and Jamelle Cornley banging inside (he’s got an OK jumper, but seriously, get your ass on the low block and start muscling guys like you were when you were an underclassmen). Oh, and Talor Battle just lighting it up, too.