SNHU Penmen looking for some home cooking vs. St. Anselm Hawks
Despite the hot streak and impressive stats, the Hawks (16-3, 12-3 NE-10) are not favored to beat Southern New Hampshire University (12-7, 8-7 NE-10) in tonight's rivalry game at the SNHU Fieldhouse. Tip-off is at 7:30. The home team has prevailed in the past seven meetings between St. A and SNHU.
"We're always telling the kids that in this league, you have to hold serve on your home court and hopefully pick off a few teams on the road. If you don't take care of business at home, you end up paying for it down the road," SNHU coach Stan Spirou said. "It's a big game for us, probably a bigger game for us than it is for St. A."
The Penmen, led by freshman Rodney Sanders, are coming off a 67-57 win at American International. Sanders is averaing 12.2 points and 4.4 rebounds per game. The 6-foot-3 forward from St. Thomas More in Oakdale, Conn., has been one of the most impressive freshman to play for Spirou in recent years.
"He has great skills, but more importantly, he's like an old-school type of player with no hangups," Spirou said. "He works hard at practice every day and knows his role. He takes criticism well and listens to what coaches are trying to tell him. Nowadays, those kids are hard to find. He's not one of those kids from a summer program who shows up and thinks he's better than everyone."
Former Manchester Central standout Mike Stys, a junior guard, is scoring 11.9 ppg for the Penmen. Stys had 16 points in the previous matchup between the Division II rivals, an 89-67 victory for the Hawks at Stoutenburgh Gym. Mabrey led the Hawks with 22 points in that contest. The rims at SNHU Fieldhouse seem to favor Stys, who made five of eight 3-point attempts and scored 20 points against Saint Rose last month.
"Michael's had a solid year, a good year. We need him in terms of his veteran leadership. That's just as important as his playing ability," Spirou said. "We just had a good win at AIC. We're all on the same page and healthy right now, but I'd like to see more consistency on a nightly basis."
The Hawks have won four straight while putting together their best start since going 17-2 to begin the 1995-96 season. For SNHU fans, tonight is "Whiteout the Fieldhouse Night."
The Division II action begins with the women's game at 5:30. The Penmen (10-9, 7-8 NE-10) are vying for a season sweep against the Hawks (4-15, 1-14 NE-10).