Men's hoops has a lot on the line in Saturday's home finale

Feb. 23, 2007

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - With the Atlantic Sun Conference Tournament looming on the horizon, Saturday's regular season finale will determine the road the Jacksonville men's basketball team takes next week.

The Dolphins (14-13, 10-7 A-Sun) face Lipscomb (17-11, 11-6 A-Sun) on Saturday at 6 p.m., with the No. 3 seed in next week's tournament on the line.

Picked to finish ninth in the preseason poll, the Dolphins have exceeded preseason expectations but now have bigger ideas - gaining better position for next week's championship.

"Saturday is an important game for both teams, but we need to worry more about ourselves and improving as a team," said JU head coach Cliff Warren. "Right now the little things are costing us. Once we take care of those, the big things will start to fall into place."

Saturday also marks the final home game for JU's two seniors - Jesse Kimbrough and Ljubisa Vrcelj.

Kimbrough has been impressive in his final campaign, leading the team in scoring, assists and steals while ranking fourth in rebounds. Having graduated a year ago, Kimbrough has used his sixth year of eligibility to work on his game and helping the Dolphins build for the future.

Vrcelj has been a steadying force for JU, providing leadership and experience for all the younger players. This season, he has been more of a leader in practice and has provided a solid example with his school-work as well as he will graduate in the spring.

"These two young men are not just good basketball players, but they are good people," Warren said. "Jesse has already graduated and Ljubisa will this spring, which is more important than anything that happens on the basketball court."

Jacksonville dropped its second straight game for the first time in more than a month after seeing Belmont hit 13 3-pointers on Thursday, the most allowed by JU in a game this season.

On the other hand, the Dolphins offense did show a lot of balance. Of the 12 players that played, only one didn't score and five players had at least eight points.

Lehmon Colbert scored 12 points in 25 minutes of action for his second double-digit scoring effort in the past three games.

Another bright spot from Thursday's contest was the strong second half play. Trailing by 21 at the half, the Dolphins didn't give up at any point and ended up cutting the final deficit to 15.

"To our guys credit, we didn't give up at any point," Warren said. "They continued to work and they started to do some things right at the end. Hopefully we can build off of that on Saturday."