Yellowjackets to get second shot at Nazareth tonight

After defeating SUNY Geneseo 72-60 in the opening round of the Wendy’s College Classic on Wednesday night, UR men’s basketball earned a second chance: a second chance against Nazareth, who gave the 5-1 ‘Jackets their first and only loss this season in an 82-64 romping on 11/22.

As is the norm, UR will be relying heavily on junior guard John DiBartolomeo in tonight's game against Nazareth. Courtesy of UR Sports Information Department

For the second time in ten days, UR will face off against the Golden Flyers tonight at 8pm in the semi-finals of the Wendy’s College Classic at Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT).

This time around, the #12-ranked ‘Jackets should know what to expect out of Nazareth and be much more prepared than they were ten days ago.

In the first meeting between the two squads, Nazareth went off, shooting a torrid 50% from the field (27-54) and an even more impressive 61.9% from the three-point line (13-21). Although UR did pretty well from the field in that game (46.3% on 25-54 shooting), the normally sharp-shooting ‘Jackets struggled from behind the arc, where they shot 33.3% (7-21) as a team.

I’m expecting a much better UR performance this go around against the Golden Flyers. The key for the ‘Jackets has to be to slow down Nazareth’s offense. If they allow the Golden Flyers to shoot over 60% from three, it will be extremely difficult for UR to come out on top.

Look for UR to pay especially close attention to Nazareth’s #32 Jason Corletta, a 6’2 senior guard out of Pittsford Sutherland High School, who shot 5-7 from three en route to 24 points on 11/22.

Aside from getting revenge on Nazareth and earning a Wendy’s Classic championship berth, UR has an added incentive for winning tonight’s match-up. If the ‘Jackets come out on top, they will get the winner of Hobart/Brockport, who are facing off at 6pm in the other semi-final contest on the campus of RIT.

Hobart’s head coach is none other than Mike Neer, UR’s former head coach. After a 34-year UR coaching career that saw him reach 563 wins and lead the ‘Jackets’ program to unprecedented success (he took the team to 12 NCAA Tournaments, four Final Fours, three National Championship appearances, and a win in the 1990 National Championship), Neer retired following the 2009-2010 season.

But the Washington and Lee University and UR Warner School of Education alum decided to return to the DIII ranks this season as Hobart’s head coach. Thus far, he has led the Statesmen to a 4-0 record.

So, if everything falls in to place, UR will get to face its former coach in the Wendy’s College Championship (and if everything does not work out that way, UR is slated to play the Statesmen in a regular season match-up on 12/10).

And a quick side note: I’ll be making the short trek to RIT tonight to cover the UR-Nazareth game, so feel free to check out my twitter feed. I’ll be posting updates and commentary throughout the contest. My twitter page can be accessed at the following link: http://twitter.com/#!/nmulb.

Mulberg covers UR men’s basketball for Campus Times’ official basketball blog, The Jackets’ Nest. Follow him on twitter at @nmulb.

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