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The Aconfora Report: Weekly Basketball

Tuesday, Jan. 29, 2013

By Nicholas Aconfora/Sports Information Staff

After splitting the doubleheader on Saturday vs. RIC, the Eastern women's and men's teams will finish out its out-of-conference schedule on Tuesday and Wednesday night at 7 p.m.

The women come off a huge win against the Anchorwomen as they won by two with a defensive stop to win the game. The men lost a heartbreaker as they were only down three with around five minutes remaining, but after the Anchormen knocked down a few threes, the Warriors couldn't dig themselves out of the deep hole.

Both teams are looking to finish out the season strong as they are both in position to grab a good seed in the LEC Tournament.

 Women -- Tuesday -- 7 p.m.

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At left: Victoria Pfohl

Eastern looks like it's  improving more and more as the season goes on. Taylor McBride stepped up for the Warriors on Saturday vs. RIC and I expect her to keep her foot on the gas. McBride showed some of her offensive game as she was able to get to the basket and knock down a few jumpers, she also played extremely well on the other side with a few big steals. Kristina Forsman and Shannon McCourt played well once again and were probably happy to see McBride break out in such a big game. Brianna Leonard and Jill Ritrosky look great in their freshmen year, but must keep it up as the season comes to an end.

Eastern will be taking on Bowdoin College, which is similar to the Eastern team from the beginning of the season. Bowdoin has senior guard Kaitlin Donahoe, who averages 15.5 points per game and sophomore forward Megan Phelps, who averages 9 points per game. Why does this remind me of Eastern? It was all McCourt and Forsman early on, but now the freshmen and McBride are coming up big. Bowdoin is 10-8 coming into this one, which makes me believe this will be a very competitive game. I don't see Eastern having too many problems in the post as there isn't much of a size difference between both teams. Although the Warriors seem to always make it interesting at the end of games, I believe they'll get the win at home.

Key for Bowdoin - Instead of shutting down McCourt and Forsman, focus on the big freshmen and McBride. If the Polar Bears can make it a 2-man game for Eastern, they can get a huge road win against a LEC opponent.

Key for Eastern - Get Victoria Pfhol more looks from three and open up the lane for McBride. Forsman and McCourt will score their points, so Eastern must rely on its other players.

 Men -- Wednesday -- 7 p.m.

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At left: Justin Nunez

Joe Ives was hurt in practice and is out indefinitely, so Eastern looks for its other guards to step up in this one against Wesleyan University. Trachone Preston was pressured throughout the entire RIC game and finally showed his "freshman" side, although he still looks like the leading candidate for the LEC Rookie-of the-Year award. Justin Nunez, the smallest player on the roster at 5-5, got much more playing time and played fairly well. Although Nunez is small, he is smart with the ball and has very good ball handling skills. The player I expect to see more in this one is the 6-2 freshman guard Kevin Leumene. Leumene came in this year expecting to see a lot of time with Preston, but was injured early in the season. The fact that Coach Bill Geitner gave Leumene minutes in a game as big as one against RIC, he is sure to get more in this game vs. the Cardinals. The Cardinals have three players who average double digits in scoring and have an offensive that is able to score at will. Sasha Brown averages over 17 points per game and leads the team in scoring. Mike Callaghan isn't far behind him as he averages just over 16 points per game. Both Brown and Callaghan may cause some problems for Eastern, but it'll be interesting to see how much the Cardinals know about this Eastern team.

Brian Salzillo  -- ranked third nationally in three-point field goals per game -- has slowed down in conference play, but maybe a game like this will give him the opportunity to play the in-and-out-game with Chris Robitialle. I expect Eastern to come out playing tougher than it has all season after the loss to RIC, and as long as they don't make any late mistakes, they should win this one.

Key for WU - Pressure Preston like RIC did. Also, make sure to play tight on and off ball defense on Salzillo as he'll look to shoot early.

Key for Eastern - Work the ball inside to Robitaille to let him test the big men of the Cardinals. Give Nunez and Leumene plenty of minutes so they can improve on playing without Ives. 

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