Saturday, February 23, 2013

SoCon Monster Game of the Week: Elon at Chattanooga

With the selection of Elon at Chattanooga as our Monster Game of the Week, we asked Tyler Ash from the Elon Pendulum and Scanning the SoCon some questions about the Phoenix. Here are his responses.

How important is it to Elon to have won the North?
Elon winning the North is a huge deal because now their road to winning the Southern Conference Championship got a lot easier. With a win, not only did Elon ensure a first round bye in the SoCon Tournament, but it also now guaranteed it will be a top 2 seed. Last year, Elon came in second in the North and got a first round bye but had to play the eventual Conference Tournament champion Davidson in the semi-finals in the tournament. With Elon and Davidson winning their respective divisions, the only way they can meet in the tournament is in the championship game, which is good news for Elon because Davidson is 15-1 in conference play this season.
Which player is the most important player on Elon's team?
 It is tough not to choose junior  guard Jack Isenbarger, given how many clutch shots and game winners he has hit for the Phoenix this season, not to mention how reliable he is from the free throw line (86.6 percent) and from three-point range (34.8), but I would still have to choose junior forward Lucas Troutman.  Not only does Troutman lead the team in scoring (14.9 PPG) but he is also a factor on the glass (5.4 RPG), something that is crucial given for an undersized Phoenix squad. Troutman is also a tough interior defender and is a great shot-blocker, leading the Southern Conference in blocks per game with 2.1.
What is one weakness that you think Chattanooga might be able to expose?
I would say the one weakness Chattanooga could expose tonight is that this is the perfect trap game. Elon is coming off winning the North Division Title on Thursday night and after they play Chattanooga tonight, it hosts Davidson on Wednesday night in a clash of the first place teams in the Southern Conference. Elon will want to make a statement at home on Wednesday night to prove to Davidson it can beat them in the tournament, so Elon is definitely looking forward towards playing them. If Chattanooga can come out with high energy, especially early in the game, it has a good chance to pull off the upset. Also, if star forward Lucas Troutman is out, Chattanooga, the # 1 rebounding team in the Conference, can use their its advantage to take down the Phoenix.
The SoCon Tournament starts soon. What chance do you give Elon of winning the whole thing?
I would give Elon a relatively good chance of winning the whole tournament. After securing a first round bye and a top two seed, Elon needs to win three conference tournament games to win it all. Elon is playing its best basketball of the season, winning 12 of its past 13 games. Elon should win its first conference game without too many issues but then will likely have to play College of Charleston in the second semi-finals. Charleston is the only Southern Conference team to beat Elon at Alumni Gym this season and could pose a huge threat to the Phoenix. If the Phoenix are able to beat Charleston, they will likely face off against Davidson in the Conference Championship game, which would be a very tough game.  But Elon has arguably its best team since entering Division 1 play in NCAA basketball so I would say Elon has a realistic chance of winning the tournament and making its first NCAA Tournament appearance in school history.
Do you think Troutman should play or not on Saturday night? Do you think Troutman deserves to win SoCon Player of the Year?
I think Troutman should rest tonight and get himself ready for the clash against Davidson on Wednesday night. Elon has proven it can win games without Troutman (recently versus Appalachian State and at Samford) and the Phoenix should feel confident about beating a Chattanooga squad that is three games under .500 in conference play this year.
I think one could certainly make the case for Troutman to win SoCon Player of the Year, given that he is the leader of the Phoenix squad that just won the North division. Troutman also leads the conference in blocks, second in the conference in field goal percentage and is fifth in scoring, furthering his case for SoCon Player of the Year.
Thanks, Tyler! I appreciate it. Looking forward to a good game tonight!

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