Furman will try to snap a five-game losing streak when the Paladins face rival The Citadel Thursday at Timmons Arena at 7 p.m. It will begin a stretch of Furman playing three of its last four games of the regular season at home.
The Paladins (7-18) and Bulldogs (9-16) are tied with UNC Greensboro for eighth in the Southern Conference at 4-10.
If Furman is to turn things around heading into the SoCon Tournament, it will likely require All-SoCon guard Stephen Croone getting back in a groove offensively.
Croone ranks fourth in the league with an average of 17.1 points per game, but has been in a shooting slump of late.
Croone totaled 83 points over a three-game stretch, capped by a 31-point performance against Chattanooga on Feb. 5. In three games since, he’s totaled 27 points. Last time out, he had seven points on 1-of-11 shooting at ETSU on Saturday.
“He’s going through a tough stretch right now, but he will figure it out,” Furman coach Niko Medved said. “His effort on the defensive end hasn’t changed. He’s been on the floor for loose balls and as long as he continues playing like that, Stephen will be fine.”
A problem this season for Croone, especially of late, is that it doesn’t appear he’s getting the same calls as he did last year. On many drives to the basket this season, the contact Croone has drawn has resulted either in a charge or no whistle at all.
While he’s taken 31 shots from the floor the past three games, he’s only shot 10 free throws.
Last season, only 15 players in the country shot more than Croone’s 256 free throws as he averaged 8.5 attempts per game.
This season, Croone’s averaging 6.7 attempts per game. Meanwhile, he’s been called for 62 fouls in 24 games this year after being called for 64 in 30 games last year.
“As rules change or things are called differently, players and coaches have to continue to make adjustments as people guard you differently,” Medved said. “Obviously, Stephen’s at the top of everybody’s scouting report and he’s going to draw a ton of attention. He will learn from it and he’ll grow.”
•After a career-high scoring performance of 29 points at ETSU, Devin Sibley was named SoCon Freshman of the Week for the third time this season.
After scoring 25 points during Furman’s lone road win this season, Jan. 17 at The Citadel, Sibley had averaged just eight points over the next seven games before Saturday’s outburst.
“Devin can really score the ball and when he gets rolling, he’s very difficult to stop,” Medved said.
“If there’s a time when we get a lot of guys playing well at the same time, we can be a good team. We’ve just got to find a way to be a lot more consistent.”