By John Cirillo
New York, January 6—On the heels of its convincing victory against non-conference Ivy League Dartmouth on Monday, Fairfield (7-6/1-2) heads full throttle into its MAAC schedule when the Stags travel to Albany on Thursday (January 7) to face Siena (9-6/2-2) at Times Union Center against the Saints.
Tip-off is at 7:00 PM, and the “Voice of the Stags” Bob Heussler will call the action on WVOF Radio (88.5 FM) with Stags legend Joe DeSantis providing expert commentary.
Fairfield’s seventh triumph of the season to begin the week equaled the Stags’ win total for all of last season.
Senior forward Marcus Gilbert sparks the Stags scoring attack with 19.5 ppg, topping the leader board for Fairfield in seven games; the Smyrna, Delaware product has scored more than 20 points in six contests, and enjoyed back to back career bests of 32 and 33 points against Maryland Eastern Shore and Columbia, respectively. Gilbert is Fairfield’s second leading rebounder with 4.9 rpg.
A pair of sophomores starting at the guards, four rookies, and a strong veteran bench have complimented Gilbert’s efforts, and spurred the turnaround for the Stags under the tutelage of fifth-year head coach Sydney Johnson.
Tyler Nelson (Bradford, MA/Central Catholic) is Fairfield’s second leading scorer with 14.5 ppg on the heels of his All-Rookie MAAC team selection last year. The 6-3 Boston product scored 20 in the Dartmouth win. Sophomore playmaker Jerome Segura had nine assists for Fairfield against Dartmouth, matching his career best, and tops the Stags with 5.9 apg. The 5-11 Segura is Fairfield’s fourth leading scorer with 8.5 ppg.
Four rookies are making major contributions for Fairfield, underlining an outstanding recruiting class for head coach Johnson.
Freshman guard Jerry Johnson, Jr. hit five straight three-point field goals and scored 20 points for the Stags, his career best, in the Dartmouth win, The 6-2 Memphis product tops the rookies with 10.1 ppg as Fairfield’s third leading scorer.
Another freshman in the Stags backcourt is Curtis Cobb (Fall River, MA/Wilbraham & Monson), who scored 16 points to equal his career best against Dartmouth, and is averaging 8.1 ppg to rank fifth among Stags scorers.
Two international players in the frontcourt – Jonathan Kasibabu from the Republic of the Congo and Serbian import Matija Milin – have received significant playing time and produced. The 6-8 forward Kasibabu is the Stags Chairman of the Boards with 5.1 rpg, picking up the slack in the absence of the injured senior Amadu Sidibe. Kasibabu has added 5.9 ppg to the arsenal. The 6-9 forward Milin averages 7.5 ppg.
A strong bench includes Scott King, Jr., Coleman Johnson, Kevin Degnan, Mike Kirkland, Thomas Nolan, Matt Hill, Steve Smith and Andrew Leone, giving the Stags an outstanding reserves corps.
The highest scoring output in the five-year tenure of head coach Johnson, came in Fairfield’s drubbing of Maryland Eastern Shore in a 113-74 road runaway win on November 24. Fairfield’s previous scoring high during Johnson’s regime as head coach was 85 points. Fairfield also scored 101 points against Bucknell, and 97 vs. Dartmouth, and now averages 80.4 ppg heading into the contest against Siena.