The Times West Virginian

Fairmont State Sports

February 6, 2014

Fairmont State to host winless Urbana

FAIRMONT — There is no reason to skirt around the facts.

Urbana is a listless team, ranking at the bottom of the Mountain East Conference in field goal defense (.498), 3-point defense (.409), assists (11.5/game), turnover margin (-2.9/ game) and defensive rebounding (22.65/game)

The result?

The Blue Knights have yet to record a win, losing all 15 of their conference games and all four of their non-conference matchups.

Fairmont State hopes to keep it that way when they host Urbana for a 7:30 p.m. game at Joe Retton Arena. The women’s game tips off just prior to the contest at 5:30 p.m.

“They haven’t won a game, but they’ve been knocking on the door in every one,” said Fairmont State basketball coach Jerrod Calhoun. “We certainly don’t want them to come in here and get their first win. We’ve got to come in here and be ready to go.”

The Fighting Falcons (13-6, 8-5 MEC) enter the game after winning two in a row and three of their last four. They are one of four teams bottle-necked at five conference losses.

With No. 5 West Liberty (18-1, 14-1) holding solid control of the top spot in the conference, Calhoun said that every game is critical to help the Falcons separate themselves from the tightly grouped pack. In doing so, he hopes they can secure the No. 2 seed in the MEC tournament and — more importantly — get an at-large bid for the NCAA tournament.

“My belief is if we’re in the top two, we’re going to get an at-large bid. We’ve got to hopefully win out to get to 22 wins and I would think that would be a for-sure bid,” he said.

However, losing to Urbana could very well ruin any hopes of a tournament appearance. A loss to a winless team would cause the Falcons’ rankings to plummet in the Massey Ratings, a power-ranking system for all college basketball teams.

“Sometimes if you lose to a team like Urbana, it can hurt you even worse than losing to anybody else on that board,” said Calhoun, pointing to a big white board in the film room that displays all of the top-ranked teams. “It would be such a bad loss. You really really have to have your kids focused.”

The Blue Knights do boast the conference’s 12th-leading scorer in Danny Goins. He’s averaging 16.7 points per game.

Casey Baker is also one to watch. He’s just a handful of rebounds away from averaging a double-double. This season he’s scored 13 points and pulled down 9.8 rebounds per game.

“I don’t care what league you’re in, anytime you get a double-double, that’s a tremendous accomplishment,” Calhoun said. “We’ve got to be aware of those two guys in particular.”

Calhoun believes if his Falcons can keep those two in check and play a defensive-style of basketball, they will be able to keep the Blue Knights from getting in the win column ... and perhaps more importantly, keep themselves out of the loss column.

“At this point in the game, with us already having six losses, we can’t afford to lose any games,” Calhoun said. “We’ve got nine left and we are approaching it as we’ve go to win all nine.”

Email Mike DeFabo at mdefabo@timeswv.com or follow him on Twitter @MikeDeFaboTWV.

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