Liberty will be looking for their first away win of the season tonight at 7 in Greenville, SC. You can catch the action on ESPN3. Here’s what you’ll need to know about the Paladins leading up to the matchup.
Team Introduction: Furman enters tonight’s matchup with a 4-6 record. They have played some tough opponents, but a bad loss to Mars Hill sticks out when you look at the Paladins’ schedule. Furman has played two teams from the Big South already and have posted wins against both Gardner-Webb and Presbyterian.
Niko Medved is in his first year at head coach for Furman after being an assistant at Colorado State for the past six years. The Paladins play in the Southern Conference, where they were picked to finish second to last this year.
Offense: Furman has had a tough time getting things going on offense. They only shoot 42.5% from the field and average 66 points per contest. Despite their lack of offense, watch out for Stephen Croone. The play making sophomore averages 19.3 points per game and 3.3 assists, due to an impressive 51.2% field goal percentage.
Defense: Teams are shooting over 52% against the struggling Paladins defense. When Furman does happen to force a miss, they only get 60% of defensive rebounds, one of the worst defensive rebounding percentages in all of D1.
Player Turnover: Two major losses from last season are Colin Reddick and Bobby Austin. Reddick led the team in both points and rebounds (12.6, 6.2) while Austin led the team in minutes played (30.0). They also lost role players Bryant Irwin and David Brown.
Guard: Stephen Croone (#14) 6’0″ sophomore- Croone has really shown up for the Paladins this year. He averages 19.3 points, 4.7 rebounds, 3.3 assists, and 2.2 steals per game. He is the team leader in points, assists, and steals. Unfortunately Croone has not received much help from his teammates.
Guard: William Gates Jr. (#22) 6’1″ freshman- Shooting 48% from 3, Gates Jr. is one of the Paladins best outside scorers. The freshman has been a solid presence for Furman, and he averages over 10 points per game.
Wing: Larry Wideman (#24) 6’4″ sophomore- Wideman is coming off a 24 point performance against Brevard and has shown that he has the ability to score in the 20s multiple times this year. He is only shooting 40%, but is averaging 12.7 points per game.
Forward: Keith Belfield (#32) 6’6″ sophomore- The sophomore will be rotated in and out of the game often tonight and has the ability to play multiple positions. He averages 5.6 points per game and 2.6 rebounds. The Paladins will need to see a better showing from Belfield on the boards moving forward.
Forward: Kendrec Farrara (#30) 6’9″ sophomore- Farrara averages 6 points, 5.2 rebounds, and 1.3 blocks for Furman. He gives them a good inside presence, but he shoots 36% from the field, atrocious for a big man.
We could see Charlie Reddick get significant time tonight as well. Reddick gives the Paladins senior leadership, but is battling a foot injury and is easing his way back into action. Reddick has a been a key player for Furman in the past.
Prediction: Furman is a very young squad that has shown glimpses of promise this year, but still seem to be finding themselves out. The Flames have not fared well on the road this year, but I believe they’ll finally get their first away win tonight. Liberty 66 Furman 58.