The 3:30 p.m. Winthrop-Jacksonville game today at the Coliseum features the player of the week from both the Big South and the Atlantic Sun conferences.
Winthrop's Robbie Dreher picked up the Big South honor with back-to-back games of 20-plus points at VMI and at Liberty.
Jacksonville's Ayron Hardy scored 11 points against Stetson in a 70-61 win, picking up eight rebounds, three assists and three steals. Against the Florida Gulf Coast, Hardy posted 11 points and a season-best 12 rebounds with four assists, three blocks and one steal.
Dreher, a 6-foot-4 sophomore, is coming into his own, on and off the court.
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"To this point Robbie has played very well," Winthrop coach Randy Peele said. "His best games; they've been as good as anyone who has ever played in this gym."
Hardy - a 6-foot-5 senior preseason Atlantic Sun all-conference pick - leads the Dolphins in scoring, rebounds, assists, field goal percentage, blocks and steals.
Dreher's first game of the season was at Wake Forest. He missed the first five games because of a suspension. He watched the games from the bench, absorbing all he could.
"Robbie's attitude has been great," Peele said. "I think he can be misread. He is not a young man that seeks attention. His personality is laid back. He is very respectful.
"He comes from a tremendous family. His mother is a Winthrop graduate and his father is a professional. They are very disciplined people. Robbie just needed to mature into being a Division I player."
Winthrop sophomore guard Reggie King was one who misread Dreher.
"When I saw him I thought, OK , he must be a thug with all the tattoos, the big rims on his car and the loud music playing," King said. "I did not think we would really get along because we were complete opposites."
King now calls Dreher his best friend.
At Wake Forest Dreher scored a career-high 20 points. On Dec. 2 at VMI, Dreher upper his career best, scoring 28 points. He scored 21 point against Liberty. He is averaging 15.2 points going into this afternoon's game.
The common denominator in those three games was the pace; it was fast.
"I like to play fast, but I know I have to play half-court also," Dreher said. "We have to get defensive stops before we can run."
Dreher is glad to put a May 2010 off-campus incident behind him.
"It's just a lesson learned," Dreher said. "I had the support of my teammates and the coaches. That helped me stay positive."
Winthrop, a preseason No. 2 pick in the Big South, was dismantled by Belmont, 71-44, on Nov. 23 in the NIT Preseason Tip-off in Winston-Salem, N.C. The Eagles are 4-5 overall.
The Dolphins, 6-1, sit atop the Atlantic Sun Conference standings at 2-0 in league play. They have won six straight games after losing the season opener to Miami, 87-77.
Jacksonville was picked to finish fourth in the Atlantic Sun in both a coaches and a media preseason poll behind Lipscomb, East Tennessee State and Belmont.
Led by coach Cliff Warren, now in his sixth season at Jacksonville, the Dolphins have grown from a Division I bottom-feeder - they were 1-26 in Warren's first season - to annual contender in the Atlantic Sun.
Jacksonville has finished tied for third, second, first and tied for first in the conference in the past four seasons. They have made consecutive NIT appearances, including a first-round win at Arizona State this past season that gave them 20 victories.
It was Jacksonville's first 20-win season since 1986.
Early this week Hardy ranked second nationally and lead the Atlantic Sun in steals per game, averaging 3.6 per contest. He is also seventh nationally in field goal percentage, hitting 66.1 percent of his shots.
Winthrop plays the second contest of a four-game non-conference stretch that gets tougher each time out.
Winthrop plays at Dayton on Dec. 20 and at Kentucky on Dec. 22.