Matt Johnson. By now, when UAA teams hear that name, they should know what to expect.
This season, the fourth-year guard is averaging 21.7 points per game, which ranks him first in the UAA and 18th in DIII for scoring average.
Two teams that are familiar with that name and are preparing for rematches are Emory (15–3, 4–3 UAA) and Rochester (11–7, 2–5). Combined, Johnson dropped 86 points against those two teams when the Maroons (11–7, 4–3) played them at home last weekend.
After scoring 49 against Emory, the guard said that a 100-point game is not in the near future, especially given that the Maroons play Emory and Rochester away this weekend, on Friday and Sunday, respectively.
“I don’t think any coach is going to let that happen, especially Emory and Rochester this weekend,” Johnson said with a laugh.
But despite Johnson’s unfathomable weekend, the Maroons’ head coach Mike McGrath said that neither team will take drastic measures at the start of the game to contain Johnson.
“I don’t expect any dramatic differences from the other teams,” he said. “[Rochester and Emory] played the way they wanted to play. I think both of them might try to do some things if [Johnson] gets going.”
McGrath said that Emory is not demoralized after losing to Wash U in addition to Chicago this past weekend.
“It’s a big game for Emory. It’s a big, big game,” he said. “They’re going to be focused. They’re going to be intense. They’re going to have a lot of energy.”
The Eagles’ energy was not able to carry them on last Friday though, one reason being that star point guard Austin Claunch ran into foul trouble and only played eight minutes in the first half. Still, he was able to drop 24 points on the night.
With identical records in the UAA, the importance of this game for both Emory and Chicago is increased. For the Maroons, however, traveling to Atlanta will add to the challenge.
“For [Emory,] it’s a game where they feel that they want to get [wins] at home to have a chance to win the league,” McGrath said.
Rochester closely guarded Johnson last weekend but was unsuccessful in stopping him, as he hit on 14 attempts from the field and totaled 36 points.
“Rochester did some things they don’t normally do in terms of trapping and displaying some box one on [Johnson], which we were fine with and we were ready for,” McGrath said.
Defensively, the Maroons will once against concentrate on John DiBartolomeo. The Rochester point guard scored 22 points against Chicago on Sunday, on 6–15 shooting from the field.
While the Maroons will heavily rely on Johnson throughout the game, they also feature versatility up and down the lineup. Fourth-year forward Steve Stefanou is currently second in scoring on the team with 10.1 points per game, and leads the team with 4.9 rebounds per game. Fourth-year guard Michael Sustarsic’s playmaking abilities have not gone unnoticed, either, as he has racked up 47 assists on the year.
After injuries to fourth-year forward Tom Williams and fourth-year guard Chase Davis, two second-year forwards, Sam Gage and Charlie Hughes, have seen more minutes. While Williams has returned, Gage’s success in his absence has allowed him to continue to start.
Johnson has carried Chicago recently, but for the Maroons to prevail on the road this weekend, everyone will need to perform.
Tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m. (EST) at Emory on Friday and 11 a.m. (EST) at Rochester on Sunday.