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The Quakers beat the visiting Monmouth Hawks at the Palestra, 83-62. Credit: Alvin Loke

When your opponent is 0-6 and coming off an 18-point loss, you might be a little overconfident — especially if you’re hosting them in your first home game in four weeks.

But Monmouth basketball coach Dave Calloway is not going to overlook any opponent. Not even winless Penn (0-6), who just got trounced by Albany on Wednesday night.

“Have you seen our record?” Calloway responded when asked about potentially overlooking Penn.

While the Hawks’ 2-7 record is better than Penn’s, both teams will be desperate for a win Saturday as Penn travels to West Long Branch, N.J. The Red and Blue are off to their worst start in nine years, while the Hawks are on a four-game losing streak and haven’t played at home since Nov. 15.

After the 78-60 loss to Albany Tuesday, Penn coach Glen Miller mentioned consistency as the number one thing his team needed to improve on before they could put their first tally in the win column.

“We must play a complete basketball game at both ends of the floor,” he said.

Monmouth, meanwhile, is having its own issues with consistency. While the team averages 67.6 points per game, their scoring high is 99 and their low is 34 .

This is partially due to the Hawks’ youth. Four players average double figures, but two are sophomores, one is a freshman and the last is a fifth-year senior who missed last year with a knee injury. So while the future is bright, Monmouth’s top players don’t always produce at a high level every night.

“They’ve been very inconsistent,” Calloway said of his young team. “They need that sense of urgency” each game.

Leading the young guns is sophomore Travis Taylor. The 6-foot-8 forward averages a team-high 14.9 points per game and played all 40 minutes in the Hawks’ Northeast Conference opener Saturday — an 81-73 loss to Sacred Heart.

With Will Campbell, Ed Waite and Whitney Coleman — the fifth-year senior who injured his knee just nine minutes into last season — all scoring in double figures, the Penn defense will have its hands full.

And this is a Quakers team that struggled defensively Tuesday against the Great Danes.

“We need to work on all areas of defense,” Miller said after Tuesday’s loss.

“We’ve concentrated a little more on the offensive end in practice, trying to see if we could put some points on the board,” he added. “We’ve just got to get back to practice and really lock down on defense.”

“It’s all about awareness,” junior forward Jack Eggleston said. “It’s five guys working together. … We’re just not at that point right now.”

The Quakers are well-aware that they earned their first win last year with an 83-62 thumping over the Hawks. However, the team didn’t get any momentum from the win, dropping their next five games.

This year’s Monmouth game might be the best chance the Red and Blue have to earn a win in 2009. If Penn falls to the Hawks, their only remaining games for the rest of the calendar year are at Davidson and at No. 8 Duke.

Yet with the Hawks — who will enter off a 66-52 loss to Rutgers — also hungry for a win, Calloway sees the game coming down to whichever team is best able to avoid poor stretches of play.

“These are two teams that could use [a win],” he said. “I’m hoping it’s us, and that they get one shortly after us.”

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