FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 02, 2007
JU freshmen set for SunTrust River City Rumble

Feb. 2, 2007

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - When Cliff Warren went with the youth movement for this season, he knew he was going to have some freshmen in the starting lineup.

He also knew that there were going to be some growing pains.

Now, with five freshmen that play significant minutes, the Dolphins begin their stretch run on Saturday against crosstown rival North Florida at home in the Jacksonville Veterans Memorial Arena for the second meeting of the SunTrust River City Rumble.

21 games into the season, Warren is starting to see the fruition of his plan - but also sees room for improvement.

The fruition has come in the fact that the freshmen class has put up at least half of the Dolphins' points in the last six games. Lehmon Colbert has been the anchor of the group, scoring in double figures in the last four games and is second on the team in scoring.

On the flip side, the frustration has been the lack of consistency from the group as well, but from that has come a group that sees different players step up to answer the challenges.

Ben Smith may not score a lot of points, but he finds a way to set up his teammates for good shots or easy baskets. Tyrone Curnell has proved to be a force off the bench, scoring at least nine points in four of the last five games.

Curnell's play off the bench has been a big catalyst for the Dolphins, as he has helped lead the JU bench to at least 20 points in eight of the last 12 games.

And that's just half of the class.

The other half has been just as vital to the Dolphins success. Corey Claitt, who starts at the 3-guard, and Derek Duggins, who provides a spark off the bench with his energy and defensive ability, are in the midst solid freshman campaigns as well.

Claitt got off to a hot start, but while his offense has cooled of late, his defense has stepped up. He now ranks in the top 15 in the Atlantic Sun Conference in steals per game while scoring at least five points in 15 of the last six games.

Off the bench, Duggins has become a viable force for opposing teams to handle. Duggins led the Dolphins with 13 points at East Tennessee State and is one of the best on-the-ball defenders that JU features.

The group has come together nicely of late, winning six of the last nine games and are looking to get back over .500 for just the second time this season.