With momentum in tow the Blazers look to keep their season alive in a first round match-up against Florida Atlantic.

Let’s start off first by taking a moment to give Coach Rob Ehsan and staff a ton of credit. Their game planning and execution last week were nothing short of outstanding. Did player health have a lot to do with it? Probably. But nonetheless I saw a team I hadn’t seen all season — a team that was confident and knew they we’re going to win before the ball ever tipped. That was Blazer basketball at it’s finest.

Enough of the gushing let’s now take a look at Florida Atlantic who finished 11th in C-USA play with a 6-12 league record.

Scouting the Owls

Below is our preview for FAU from January. Roster-wise not much has changed and they pretty much stick with the formula of running their offense through their 7-footer Ronald Delph. UAB had no trouble defending and scoring against him when we won in Boca. Really, it’ll come down to making 3-pointers for FAU as is the case with most teams we’ve faced. We can’t let them get hot.

The Owls aren’t a heavy 3-point shooting team per se, but they do have two players that can really light it up when they’re on. Senior guard Gerdarious Troutman, who is their leading scorer at 13.3 points per game, has hit 37 3-pointers this season, which is only second to La Tech’s Jacobi Boykins. Troutman is shooting a scorching 45 percent from behind the arc and has had more than three 3-pointers in eight games. Justin Massey, a 6-foot-4  junior forward, has actually attempted more 3-pointers than Troutman, but has only converted 27 of them. For reference, Nick Norton leads UAB with 25. 

FAU’s main guy is their big man Ronald Delph who is one of the few good 7-footers in Conference USA. Delph protects the rim well having blocked 24 shots this season (Lee has 26), and before their loss to FIU on Sunday he had seven straight games scoring in double figures. This is the third year our interior players have seen Delph, and honestly he hasn’t been very effective offensively or defensively against us. 

I’d keep it simple versus the Owls by pressuring their guards relentlessly and make them beat us with Delph in the paint. FAU can’t beat us with two’s, but they surely can if they get hot from behind the arc and hit double-digit 3-pointers. If we can keep them under six 3-pointers, UAB should win this one rather easily.

Of late FAU has some really questionable losses (Charlotte, Rice) and some solid performances against ODU and North Texas. The Owls rank third from the bottom in two-point percentage which is basically opposite from UAB who are one of the best in the country around the rim.

I don’t see any area of FAU’s game where they’ll have the advantage and UAB should be able to put this one away early if they play like they did the last week.

3 Keys to Blazer Victory

  1. We can’t let Ronald Delph get position deep in the paint against Cokley. Chris is stronger but Delph has good hands and decent enough feet to get fouled or score. We’ll want FAU taking contested two’s outside of the paint.
  2. UAB can win this tournament if they can be consistent from behind the arc early in their games. We are a really good team when we can space the floor. If we’re cold, this could be a one game trip.
  3. Chris Cokley is UAB’s most important piece but William Lee can be this season’s saving grace. He’s down to one game at a time now. We’ll need special performances from the senior.