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Meet the Fairfield Stags, deep in some ways, extremely thin in a lot of others

Caylor Arnold-USA TODAY Sports

How to watch or listen to the game

Tip time: 2 p.m. ET, Sunday, Dec. 18

TV: None

Online streamingESPN3/ACC Network Extra (same thing)

Radio: Wolfpack Sports Network (affiliates)

Fairfield vitals

Record: 5-3
Pomeroy ranking: 178
Best win***: 76-67 over Rider (No. 190 in Pomeroy Ratings)
Worst loss: 81-66 to Loyola MD (No. 260 in Pomeroy Ratings)

(***Based on opponent's Pomeroy Rating, not margin of victory.)

Adjusted tempo: 71.9 poss/40 minutes (ranks 70th)
Adjusted offensive efficiency: 100.6 (ranks 220th)
Adjusted defensive efficiency: 101.8 (ranks 138th)

Fairfield roster
Fairfield schedule
Fairfield stats 20162017

The Fairfield offense and starters

Fairfield Offense -- Four Factors eFG% (National Rank) TO% OR% FT Rate
2015-16 51.3 (111) 17.6 (135) 24.8 (313) 32.6 (276)
2016-17 52.3 (99) 22.1 (311) 27.5 (239) 32.3 (232)

Since bottoming out at 7-25 in 2014, Sydney Johnson's Fairfield program has slowly been working its way back to respectability within the MAAC. See, there's drawbacks with coaching a mid-major, but there are perks too. If a coach goes 22-15 (12-6) in his first year and then goes 7-25 (4-16) in year three at a power conference school, he is probably toast.

But Johnson survived both that 7-25 season and the 7-24 season that followed to re-establish the Stags as a decent, top-five program within their league. Not a lot of people come back from that--or are given the chance to--but he did.

Before heading to Fairfield, Johnson was the head coach at Princeton, but his Fairfield teams aren't quite modeled in the way you would expect from a Princeton guy. They don't shoot a ton of threes (though if they want to, they can), and they don't play halfcourt basketball--the Stags rank 71st in adjusted tempo and 48th in average possession length at the offensive end.

They shoot slightly above average from three and well above average inside the arc, but apparently one of the bugs that comes with Johnson's system is turnovers. The Stags have been pretty bad in that category throughout his tenure, and his Princeton teams were bad in this regard as well. Add to that substandard offensive rebounding and an inability to get to the free throw line and you get an offense that one thing--shooting from the field.

I mean, if you have to choose one thing to be decent at, shooting is always the choice, it's just never a good idea to be one-dimensional like that. The Stags shot reasonably well in two of their three losses but were overcome by their weaknesses everywhere else. That is likely to remain a problem, though Fairfield nonetheless should finish in the top half of the MAAC.


Jerome Segura (5-11, 175) -- Jerome here has your standard short guy problems, or as I like to put it, Short Guy Struggle. For his career, he is a 42.5% shooter inside the arc, which is very bad, and worse, he much prefers twos to threes. (He isn't much of a three-point shooter, either.) The good news, at least, is that he does not hog a lot of possessions with his ham-fisted clankery. Really turnover prone, won't get to the free throw line much.

Tyler Nelson (6-3, 185) -- Nelson has assumed the alpha dog role this season and is averaging almost 20 points per game. This kid is just really good--he's been no worse for the wear of an increased workload, and he can score effectively both inside the arc and beyond it. An elite free throw shooter who is pretty good at drawing fouls. Won't turn the ball over much.

Curtis Cobb (6-4, 175) -- A pretty good shooter up to this point in his career, if a tad overzealous. He basically lives as a jump shooter, whether that's from outside or from two, as he rarely gets himself to the free throw line. Needs to cut down on the turnovers.

Matija Milin (6-9, 220) -- Milin the patented stretch four, just as likely to try a three as he is a two. Not much of a rebounder at either end and probably won't end up at the free throw line often.

Amadou Sidibe (6-8, 215) -- I love me some dudes that can rebound well at both ends of the floor, because those are separate skills. Sidibe is currently fifth nationally in offensive rebounding percentage and 38th in defensive rebounding percentage. Kid's been a Hoover throughout his four-year career. Decent scorer in the paint, but he is prone to fouls and turnovers.

The Fairfield bench and defense

Reserves: Jonathan Kasibabu (6-8, 240), Jerry Johnson (6-2, 210), Olivier Cadieux (6-4, 205). Kasibabu is a decent role player--he'll get a couple buckets, block some shots, rebound some rebounds, but goodness is he foul-prone. Johnson is a three-point specialist shooting better than 40% for his career. That's about all he does. Fairfield ranks 339th in bench minutes this season. Not a deep team, to say the least.

Fairfield Defense -- Four Factors eFG% (National Rank) TO% OR% FT Rate
2015-16 49.6 (161) 18.9 (122) 34.1 (321) 34.1 (110)
2016-17 47.0 (75) 19.3 (163) 30.1 (190) 27.5 (43)

(I don't think I note this enough: the Four Factors are raw numbers, which is to say they are not adjusted for quality of opponent. And Fairfield ain't played nobody, Paul.)

Fairfield probably will mix things up a bit, though the flow of the game may dictate the extent of that. If the big men are in early foul trouble, they don't have a lot of options off the bench, so more zone would be likely in that case.

The Stags have not been disruptive at all this season, ranking 315th in block rate and 264th in steal rate. I think a lot of times those numbers cut through a team's overall defensive turnover rate. Fairfield's TO rate ranks 163rd, which basically says to me they've played a bunch of crappy teams since it doesn't come close to matching their BLK/STL rates.

There's no proof that this is a good dfensive rebounding team, and they have been extremely fortunate in a couple of areas: opponents are shooting only 28.7% from three and 60.3% from the free throw line. Neither number is sustainable.

The Pomeroy Predictor likes NC State by 13.