Furman invades Holmes Center
by Steve Behr Sports Editor
Appalachian State’s resolve will be tested Monday night when they host Furman at the Holmes Center.
When the teams tip off at 8 p.m., it will be Appalachian State’s third game in five days. The Mountaineers’ game Saturday at Davidson was Appalachian State’s second road game in a stretch that had the Mountaineers playing four out of five games away from home. Of course, now that those two road games have been played, the Mountaineers can say they are playing four of their next six at home.
Monday night is the game Appalachian State (10-13, 6-6 SoCon) plays at home during that stretch. ASU beat Georgia Southern 91-86 in overtime Thursday, but lost at Davidson 87-52 on Saturday.
Appalachian State plays two more games — both of them North Division showdowns — before finishing with three at home. The Mountaineers play at Elon Thursday and at UNC Greensboro on Saturday.
They return for home games against The Citadel and the North Division rivals Samford and Chattanooga.
After falling to Davidson in a game that saw the Mountaineers fall behind by as many as 39 points, Mountaineers coach Jason Capel is anxious to put the Wildcats in ASU’s rearview mirror and concentrate on Furman.
“That’s a good thing,” Capel said about playing two days later. “We’re ready to turn the page. We’re ready to throw this one out, get back and watch some film and get better. We’ve got Furman and we’re still in (third) place in our division.”
Capel said one of Appalachian State’s goals, with six games left in the season, is to win the North Division and grab one of the four first-round byes in the Southern Conference Tournament. The division winners and the teams with the next best records receive a bye into the tournament.
Davidson (17-7, 12-1 SoCon) and Elon (16-8, 9-3) SoCon lead the South and North Divisions respectively. College of Charleston has the next best league record (18-7, 10-3) and is likely to receive a bye.
The fourth bye is still up for grabs between several teams, including ASU.
“Our goal is having a chance to win our division and having a chance to get one of those byes,” Capel said. “Our goal is still is still intact. In a perfect scenario, hopefully we can continue to get better as a team as the year goes on, we’ve positioned ourselves to see (Davidson) in the (tournament) championship on Saturday night.”
Furman (6-16, 3-8 SoCon) goes into its game with Appalachian State losers of three straight and four of its last five games. The Paladins lost 64-60 to visiting North Division leading Elon Saturday. Furman led late in the game, but Elon made 5-of-6 foul shots down the stretch to ice the win.
The Mountaineers made the five-hour trip back to Boone following its win at Georgia Southern, instead of staying in the Charlotte area to face the Wildcats. ASU coach Jason Capel refused to say that fatigue was a factor in the Mountaineers’ loss to Davidson.
“We don’t live in an excuse world,” Capel said. “We won’t allow ourselves to live in that world. Were we prepared to play? Yes. Were we prepared to take a punch in the mouth and keep coming? Obviously, not. I thought early the game was 10, eight, six points here and there right to about the 12-minute media (timeout). Then they went on a run and we contributed to it by taking bad shots and by turning the ball over. When you give those guys an inch, they’re going to take a mile and they’re going to keep attacking you until you respond to it.”
The Paladins score 62.8 points per game, but give up 70.1, making them ninth in offense and seventh in defense.
They are led in scoring by Colin Reddick, who scores 12.5 points per game. He is the only Furman player who averages more than 10 points per game.
Appalachian State (10-12, 6-5), which put together back-to-back wins over Western Carolina and Georgia Southern before losing to Davidson Saturday, gets 15.0 points per game from senior forward Nathan Healy, and 14.1 points per game from Jay Canty. Tab Hamilton adds 10.5 points per game and Tevin Baskin comes off the bench to score an average of 10.4 per game.