WATCH: Eastern Athletics Weekly Thursday at noon on LittleEast.TV
By Nick Aconfora/Sports Information Staff
After two disappointing losses of a combined five points (one in overtime) in Miami, Eastern looks to get back on track as it plays in the Franklin & Marshall New Year Tournament Wednesday and Thursday.
At right: Chris Robitaille
Head Coach Bill Geitner and his team are 6-4 and will kick off the tournament taking on Salisbury University Wednesday at 6 p.m.. The Sea Gulls are 9-3 on the season and began the year winning nine of ten games, but like Eastern, have recently dropped two in a row. Prior to losing its last two, Salisbury upset No.1 Virginia Wesleyan by nine points on the road.
Expect to see a lot of the 6-3 Salisbury senior guard Travon Vann in this matchup. Vann leads his team in points with 21.3 and rebounds with 8.3. Tim Harwood is behind him averaging 13.1 points a game and he shoots 40 per ent from beyond the arc. The Sea Gulls will look for both of these players throughout the game.
Eastern will look for another great game out of their freshman Trachone Preston as he averaged 19.5 points in the Holiday Slam down in Miami. Mike Garrow will look to bounce back after only scoring two points in the second game in Miami vs. Messiah College. Keep an eye on Brian Salzillo as he will probably try to get his shot going early on to help Eastern jump out to an early, comfortable lead.
Keys for SU - Try to play the in and out game to set up Harwood and Vann for open threes. Set up off ball screens for Vann to get an open jumper or to create a mismatch to penetrate to the basket.
Keys for Eastern - Play tough defense against Vann and get the ball in the hands of 6-foot 5 Chris Robitaille. I can't name a player who can match up with Robitaille in the post, who leads the team in rebounding, and is third in scoring and shoots nearly 50 percent from the floor. Thus, the Warriors must dump the ball inside early on and Robitaille must stay out of foul trouble. If the double team comes, it will lead to open shots from the perimeter for Salzillo, Joe Ives, and Preston.
Eastern will go on to play either Franklin & Marshall or SUNY Plattsburgh Thursday (6 p.m. consolation game, 8 p.m. championship game). Franklin & Marshall (8-1) is ranked 8th in the nation. The Diplomats made a run to the Elite 8 last season and has defeated Little East Conference pre-season favorite Keene State at Keene this season. Whomever Eastern plays in the second game, the Warriors will need to step it up on defense in this tournament. They have had defensive problems at times this season which has cost them a few games.