2013-14 Lafayette Leopards (4-6; KenPom: 196; RPI: 240)
2012-13 Lafayette (19-15, 10-4 Patriot League; KenPom: 153; RPI: 153)
The Leopards had the most ordinary off-season of any Seton Hall non-conference opponent. Lafayette lost their two seniors Tony Johnson (13.3 ppg) and Levi Giese (6.9 ppg) to graduation while inheriting no transfers and losing no players to transfer. Of four freshmen, only point guard Nick Lindner (11.2 ppg, 4.2 apg) has made an impact for Lafayette.
Unfortunately for the Leopards, leading scorer Seth Hinrichs (20.4 ppg, 5.9 rpg, 1.5 spg) looks to be out for 2-3 weeks with a knee injury after missing Lafayette's buzzer-beating loss to St. Francis (N.Y.) last week. Junior forward Alan Flannigan (18.6 mpg, 4.4 ppg, 2.6 rpg) also missed last week's game with a knee injury.
On average, Lafayette has the 271st tallest team in the country, with just 6-foot-9 Dan Trist (13.3 ppg, 5.4 rpg) and 6-foot-10 Australian Nathaniel Musters (12.7 mpg, 1.2 ppg, 3 rpg) playing notable minutes prior to Seth Hinrichs' injury. 6-foot-7 freshman Michael Hoffman and 6-foot-9 sophomore Ben Freeland have stepped in with a few more minutes against St. Francis. Despite their lack of height, Lafayette has the 146th best offensive rebounding percentage, but just the 317th best defensive offensive rebounding percentage (how much they give up when on defense).
Poor rebounding is just the tip of the iceberg for the Leopards on the defensive end. Lafayette also ranks below 300th in adjusted defensive efficiency (329th), defensive 3PT% (40%, 322nd), and block percentage (324th). They have given up at least 75 points in every game except for their most recent loss to St. Francis.
In contrast to their poor defensive record, Lafayette has posted impressive offensive numbers that will surely take a hit with Seth Hinrichs sidelined. They are ranked top-50 in five offensive categories: adjusted offensive efficiency (50th), eFG% (24th), 3PT% (41st), 2PT% (45th), and FT% (80.2%, 3rd). Prior to their loss to St. Francis, Lafayette had scored at least 75 points in every game but one (@ Villanova), and at least 80 points in four contests. They scored 62 points against a highly ranked (43rd) St. Francis defense.
Seth Hinrichs (23/48) was one of three - now two - Leopards who are dangerous from beyond the arc. Guards Joey Ptasinski (9.9 ppg, 21/56, 37%) and Bryce Scott (16.7 ppg, 22/55, 40%) remain as Lafayette's 3-ball threats. 33.1% (46th most) of Lafayette's total points have come from long range. Sophomore guard Zach Rufer (13 mpg) rounds out Lafayette's guard rotation that includes the aforementioned Nick Lindner, who plays the point. Lindner ranks 8th in the country in free throw rate (Sterling Gibbs is ranked 1st) and shoots 86% from the line.
EDIT: Shortly after publishing, NYC Buckets brought it to my attention that long-time Lafayette head coach Fran O'Hanlon uses more substitutions than almost every team in the country. That is certainly something to keep an eye on tomorrow night.
Lafayette started their season on a five-game losing streak against fairly stiff opposition, then rebounded with four-straight wins against Penn, Wagner, Sacred Heart, and Division 3 Immaculata University before falling to St. Francis (N.Y.) without Seth Hinrichs. Lafayette has played just two games since December 7th (nearly three weeks).
The following KenPom prediction is likely to be skewed due to injuries for both Lafayette and Seton Hall (players returning). Fuquan Edwin and Patrik Auda will likely see a few more minutes while Sterling Gibbs, who was medically cleared to play against Eastern Washington last Sunday, will return to the court for the Pirates.
KenPom says: No. 133 Seton Hall - 76, No. 196 Lafayette - 69 (75%)
Projected Lafayette starters:
5-10 Fr., G - Nick Lindner
6-3 So., G - Bryce Scott
6-2 Jr., G - Joey Ptasinski
6-7 Fr., F - Michael Hoffman
6-9 Jr., F - Dan Trist
When/Where: 8 p.m., Friday (Walsh Gym, South Orange)
TV: FOX Sports 1
Radio: AM 970