Previewing Monmouth: Pirates look to rebound against young MU team after loss at Mercer

Monmouth junior Andrew Nicholas (16 ppg, 4.5 rpg) is one of the lone returning contributors from last season. - Michael Hickey

Monmouth (10-12, 5-13; KenPom: 311; RPI: 282)

The Monmouth Hawks have lost four seniors to graduation and another two players, Marcus Ware (Niagara) and Dion Nesmith (Hofstra), to transfer. The exodus has left Monmouth woefully thin in experience: Monmouth's roster contains no seniors, four juniors, and 12 total underclassmen. Monmouth was picked eleventh, dead last, in the MAAC preseason poll.

Last season's leading scorer Andrew Nicholas (13.9 ppg) is averaging 16 ppg over his first two games. Nicholas has been primarily helped by former Towson guard Deon Jones (19.5 ppg), who sat out last season, and freshman guards Josh James (13 ppg, 4 apg, 3.5 rpg) and Justin Robinson (11.5 ppg, 4.5 apg). The three back court additions have been a needed boost for Monmouth head coach King Rice.

Junior guard Max DiLeo (16 mpg, 9.5 ppg, 3 spg), 6-foot-5 sophomore wing/forward Tyrone O'Garro (5.5 ppg, 8.5 rpg, 26 mpg), and Chris Brady (4 ppg, 5 rpg, 17.5 mpg) have also featured in King Rice's Hawk rotation.

Monmouth has several big men, but has only played 6-foot-10 Chris Brady 17.5 mpg so far this season. 6-foot-9 South Orange native Khalil Brown was expected to get time for the Hawks this season but has only played 3 minutes. Monmouth has started 6-foot-10 freshman center Zac Tillman in both games, but he hasn't played more than 9 minutes in a game. Chris Brady and Brazilian 6-foot-10 freshman center Marcelo Ruediger (10 mpg, 4.5 rpg) have filled in at the 'five'. Despite a jumbled front court rotation, one of Monmouth's lone statistical bright spots is their offensive rebounding percentage. The Hawks are 24th in the country with 42%.

The Hawks play at a 75.9 adjusted tempo, which is rated 6th highest in the country. Translation: MU plays at a fast tempo.

Monmouth won 88-84 at Hofstra (KenPom No. 300) in their season opener before losing to Penn (No. 245) 79-73 at home last Tuesday. The Hawks have been off since playing the Quakers, while Seton Hall flew back from Georgia yesterday after their 2OT loss to Mercer. Monmouth also lost 75-66 to Division II Le Moyne College (N.Y.) in an exhibition.

The last time Seton Hall and Monmouth met, Jeremy Hazell score 26 points, Jamel Jackson added 15, and Melvyn Oliver saw the court when the Pirates won at Monmouth 87-72 in 2009. Seton Hall is 11-0 all-time against the Hawks.

Monmouth project starters:

G, Fr. - Justin Robinson

G, Jr. - Andrew Nichols

G, Jr. - Deon Jones

F, So. - Tyrone O'Garro

C, Fr. - Zac Tillman

KenPom says: No. 77 Seton Hall 86, No. 322 Monmouth 66 (95%)

Time: 8 p.m. ET

TV: FOX Sports 2

Radio: AM 970

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