Thursday, January 31, 2013

Mount holds on at Home

The Mount nearly let a lead slip away late for the second straight Thursday at home but this time made some plays down the stretch to knock off Quinnipiac 78-74.

There was no bigger play late, than Julian Norfleet's bomb from the right wing (the guy leads the NCAA in 28-footers doesn't he?) that gave the Mount some breathing room with just over a minute to play and stretched the lead to five. The Mount made just enough free throws late and survived an inbounds play which nearly turned into an Ike Azotam hoop and harm bucket that could have given the Bobcats the lead with just 12 seconds to play.

Shivaughn Wiggins stayed hot leading the Mount with 17 points. Rashad Whack and Norfleet had 13 while Sam Prescott was also in double digits with 11.

The game was full of all sorts of statistical wackiness. Quinnipiac outrebounded the Mount 50-26. Ousmane Drame had 19 points and 20 rebounds including 11 on the offensive end. The game featured 53 fouls but the Bobcats scored only 16 points from the line making only 50 percent including 5-of-14 in the first half. The Mount was 25-of-36 from the line.

The Mount moves to 3-6 in the NEC and hosts Sacred Heart in a 4 o'clock game on Saturday.

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Sunday, January 20, 2013

Back to the Knott

You can bet that the ride home from New Britain Connecticut was a fun one for the Mt. St. Mary's Mountaineers yesterday evening. And with good reason. The Mount had just completed its first non-conference road win against a +.500 conference mate in over two years. The last one came in on January 15th 2011, when the Mounties won at St. Francis NY.

The Mount win avoided a four-game losing streak, the second such time the Mount has ended a streak in such fashion this year.

But it wasn't so much the win as the way the Mount got the win that impressed me.

We can poke our finger at the Mount defense as much as we want, were not likely to create many holes. But it was that defense that really slowed down the Central Connecticut offense. If you stuck around long enough on the post-game show you heard CCSU assistant coach Sean Ryan say that the 1-3-1 defense is something that can make an immediate impact on a basketball game. But most of the time the offense becomes comfortable against it and it is ineffective.

However, the Mount coaching staff never let that happen. Primarily because they kept rotating guys at the top of the zone. At times 7-foot Taylor Danaher manned the top of the zone. At others, 5-10 Shivaughn Wiggins was the guy up top. And there were others there as well. Couple that with the fact that anytime the Devils did seem to get going offensively
the Mount gave them a different look and went back to the zone later on.

Howie Dickenman has made a career out of outcoaching people in the NEC. The Mount coaching staff had his number on Saturday afternoon.

Not only was the defense working but the Mount offense was executing at a high level. The offense has now scored better than a point a possession in four of its last five games after reaching that mark only three times in its first eleven games. And there was quite a balance to it as well.

Five players scored in double figures. Julian Norfleet and Xavier Owens led the way with 18. Owens had a monster game with 9 rebounds. The sophomore from Tampa has seen his minutes decrease in recent weeks, but he was more than ready to take advantage of positive matchups when his number was called.

Norfleet provided the dagger three to cap the performance. He knocked down 4-of-6 threes on the afternoon breaking out of the season-long shooting slump. Expect a big conclusion to the season from the junior.

So the Mount heads back to the friendly confines of Knott Arena for three home games in its next four. currently lists the Mount as favorites in all three of those games. But none will be easy.

Still its nice to be home and with a good road win to boot.

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Saturday, January 19, 2013

Effort Rewarded

The Mount had 5 guys in double figures and capped off a four-game road trip with a well earned 80-75 victory at Central Connecticut State Saturday afternoon.

Julian Norfleet and Xavier Owens led the offensive attack for the Mounties with 18 each.

A 16-0 run midway through the second half turned an eight point deficit into an eight point lead and gave the Mount control of the game down the stretch.

Rashad Whack had 13, Shivaughn Wiggins 12 and Kristijan Krajina had 10 for the balanced attack.

The Mount survived an unexpected career high 26 from Baltimore native Malcolm McMillian who knocked down 6 of 7 three-pointers.

Lots of credit to the Mount coaching staff for mixing the defenses up and slowing down and at times thoroughly confusing the high flying Blue Devil attack.

Still no respect for the Mount from the other teams in the NEC. A few more performances like this and that will have to change.

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Keeping the Faith

The Mount will tip off in Connecticut with Central Connecticut State in about an hour and a half and when they do, they will be trying to avoid their first 4 game losing streak of the season.

A season that started with so much promise, because the Mount won 5 of 11 non-conference games, has all of a sudden started to look a little differently. Because many assumed that since the Mount had played near 500 ball against non-conference opponents, it would have no difficulty doing that well or better in conference play.

But at least to start the conference season it hasn't gone that way. And you sort of sense that folks are starting to get a bit restless.

But let's all take a step back, a deep breath and realize where we are right now.

Just past the midway part of the season, the Mount has proven it can play with anyone the NEC has to offer. Thursday's heartbreaking overtime loss at Bryant further proved that point.

But the other factor that has been proven is that if the Mount doesn't play well for all 40 minutes of games opponents in the NEC are going to take advantage. Falling in early deficits in losses to Long Island, Fairleigh Dickinson, St Francis NY and having to rally to force overtime against Bryant has proven to be too large a hole to rally from.

But let's look positively, at where this team is different, than the team that won just 8 games last year.

  • Transfers Rashad Whack and Sam Prescott have both averaged in double figures in 5 NEC games. The duo had a combined 33 on Thursday at Bryant.
  • Kristijan Krajina has proven that if he is on the floor and not on the bench in foul trouble he can have a huge impact on the game inside. Not only does his post play bring points for the Mount, but it makes the defense defend inside which means the Mount perimeter players have a little more space outside.
  • The Mayhem style of defense is going to force turnovers against NEC opponents. League leading Bryant had 20 on Thursday night.
  • There are plenty of players who are going to contribute. With starting point guard Josh Castellanos ailing on Thursday night, Shivaughn Wiggins led the attack with 20 points. The freshman guard from Charlotte made 8-of-10 shots, including all 3 of his three-point attempts.
  • The field goal percentage keeps getting better. The Mount has made 46% of its shot in January, the best of any month this season. In the long run, that is going to pay dividends.
There is no doubt that the early part of the season was bringing better results. But it is impossible to ignore the fact that some areas of the Mount's play are improving over the last few weeks. However, the schedule has been murderous and isn't likely to get much better any time soon. After today, the Mount has played 4 straight games on the road, and plays one of two on the road next week. 

As the season wears on the schedule looks a bit friendlier with numerous home games at Knott Arena forthcoming. That could be setting the Mount up to play its best basketball in February and March as would be expected from a team under a new head coach with a lot of new faces.

The majority of the league schedule lies ahead of us. Today would be a good time to get a jump start on it.

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RIP The Earl of Baltimore

Sad sad news this morning to hear of the passing of Earl Weaver. The guy made me love the game of baseball - and he made me love his Orioles.

Also sad that the lasting image will have of Earl is for moments like the above (and don't hit the play button with kids in the room) when in fact he was a great manager. Weaver won nearly 60% of the games he managed over his 18 years with the Birds. He took the Orioles to 4 World Series.

He's gone but he'll never be forgotten.

The Hall of Famer once said, "when I die just put 'the sorest loser that ever lived' on the tombstone."

Unfortunately that time has come. But everytime there's a three-run homer hit by the black and orange we'll remember the Earl of Baltimore.

Rest In Peace

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Nwandu Scores 27 of Team's 49 in Win

Here is the full game video of Mount signee Khalid Nwandu's 27 point performance versus Red Lion last night.

The game story from The York Daily Record

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Thursday, January 17, 2013

Mount loses in Rhode Island

Shane McLaughlin took one shot all night. It came with 6.6 seconds left  in overtime - a driving layup that kept Bryant unbeaten in the NEC finally putting an end to the Mount's upset bid 79-78.

Julian Norfleet's elbow jumper at the buzzer bounced painfully off the rim.

The Mount had rallied from an 11-point deficit over the game's final 5 minutes and forced overtime on Shivaughn Wiggins 3-pointer with 13 seconds. The freshman who played for an injured Josh Castellanos had a career high 20 points making 8 of 10 shots from the field including all three from behind the arc.

Both teams shot very well from inside the arc, but ultimately it was Bryant's success at the foul line that made the difference. Bryant was 19-of-22 while the Mount was 7-of-13.

Rashad Whack, who had back-to-back threes in the rally, scored 17 for the Mount, while Sam Prescott had 16.

The road trip continues Saturday at Central Connecticut as the Mount looks to snap a three-game losing streak.

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Sunday, January 06, 2013

Biggest win of Season

If you didn't recognize the crossroads that the Mount basketball team was at entering last night's home NEC game versus Monmouth, you've probably missed most of the last month of play.

The Mount had lost 4 of its last 5 and had seen its efficiency from behind the arc, and its ability to turn teams over diminish a bit during that stretch.

However, there definitely had been some positives on the Mount's desire to become a complete basketball team. The inside play of Kristijan Krajina had really started to develop and Taylor Danaher and Raven Barber had shown the ability to score inside points.

In addition, there had been stretches where the halfcourt defense had performed admirably, despite the fact that teams were in total still shooting a high percentage.

But it certainly did seem like the more the Mount missed from the outside the more the frustration mounted.

However, none of that was evident Saturday night. The Mount went about the first five or six minutes without shooting a three, and didn't make one until less than 10 minutes remained in the half. Yet they had built a lead  and seemed in control of the game at that point.

Not only was Krajina scoring inside but guys were moving past an overplay on the perimeter to knock down mid-range jumpers.

Defensively the Mount wasn't forcing as many turnovers as they had been, but they were still settling in much better on the defensive end.

And all of a sudden they started to look like that team that was complete. The looks from outside were more open, and the shots started to drop. Sam Prescott, who matched Krajina's 15 for a team high, knocked down three three-pointers and the Mount shot a very good 4-of-10 from behind the arc in the first half.

In the second half, it looked as if Monmouth would rally on several occasions. But as soon as the Hawks pulled close the Mount made a run. And then maybe that constant pressure paid its biggest reward of the evening. The Mount pushed the lead back to double figures with a run that consisted of some Barber buckets inside, a Whack three, and a steal and an easy layin for Kelvin Parker.

And you had to feel good for Parker last night.

As well as the team had been playing in the first few months of the season, Parker hadn't really been a part of that on the floor. But he looked good on Thursday and was rewarded with more minutes on Saturday night. He made the most of it. And all of a sudden the Kelvin Parker that we saw as a lot of as a walk-on freshman, was back to contributing.

The completeness to the team was obviously more evident last night.

That is going to be needed over the next several weeks. The Mount begins a murderous stretch of seven games (Sorry Coach I did look ahead) that features five road games and home games against Wagner and Quinnipiac.

Without anything but a complete performance on Saturday night, the task would have appeared even more daunting.

Now, I think there is a sense of confidence again.

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Mount O'LInks 1/6

Carroll County story from Monmouth Win

Frederick Post Story from last night's win

Robert Morris winless in conference play

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Saturday, January 05, 2013

Mount gives Christian first NEC win

Four players scored in double figures as the Mount rebounded from Thursday night's league opening defeating, downing Monmouth 71-58 at the Knott Arena.

Kristian Krajina and Sam Prescott had 15 to lead the Mounties, while Julian Norfleet and Kelvin Parker each had 11.

The Mount seized control midway through the first half and gamely fought off a couple on Monmouth rallies in the second half.

I'll have more thoughts and reactions tomorrow.

But this was a nice win for the Mount and gives them a little boost as the head out on the road next week.

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Mount O' Links 1/5/2013

Another good Night for Cam Jackson
Cam Jackson, a 2014 commit, scored 18 as Handley moved to 9-2.

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Video of Khalid Nwandu

Here is the video replay of Khalid Nwandu - a 2013 signee for the Mount and his Northeastern Bobcats defeated West York stopping a 4-game losing streak.

Nwandu had a game-high 26. He wears #4 in black.

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Friday, January 04, 2013

Half Empty vs Half Full

Found out one thing that new Mount head coach Jamion Christian and I have in common. After last night's loss, Christian said he was a "hopeless romantic". That's a lot like me, I'm a helpless romantic.

But let's be honest there couldn't be anyone in or around the Mount program happy with last night's loss. That game wasn't to be about moral victories. It was supposed to be about victories. But even in losses there  are usually positives and there certainly were a few last night.

And of course it all still depends on your perspective.

Half Full: To make it's final 13 field goals of the game, it took FDU 31 chances.
Half Empty: To make it's first 13 field goals of the game, it FDU 16 attempts.

With the style of defense the Mount plays, where it forces loads of turnovers, the Mount can survive with the opposition shooting at or near the 50% mark. But as it starts to drift above that it becomes more and more difficult. In their wins, against teams similar in caliber to what they'll see in the NEC, the Mount has done a decent job defensively in the half-court set. In the losses, the opposition has found itself with many easy shots. The fact that the Mount has been working to improve in this area is obvious. Ultimately, I think how successful they are in this area will determine how much success they have this year.

Half Full: Kristijan Krajina, Raven Barber and Taylor Danaher combined to shoot 16-of-25 from the floor.
Half Empty: The Mount made only 4 of 28 three pointers.

The Mount made only one of its first 20 three pointers, a Kelvin Parker connection early in the second half. But we know the Mount isn't going to continue to shoot this bad from the outside. The good news is there is a consistent offensive attack inside. Krajina doesn't exactly look pretty, but it's hard to ignore the efficiency. Barber has all the pieces, he just needs to consistently put it together. And Danaher, the redshirt freshman, has as much skill as you'll see from a big man at this level. Teams are overplaying on the perimeter allowing these guys space inside. As the defenses start to adjust it should give the team many more options from all over the floor.

Half Full: The Mount played hard to the end and really just ran out of clock.
Half Empty: The Mounties sleepwalked through the opening stages.

The Mount seemed a bit lethargic at the start. They dug themselves a whole, a real deep whole. The second half rally was very predictable, but overcoming a 17-point deficit takes a Herculean effort. The Mount never seemed to lose the confidence to get back in the game and made several runs at the Knights throughout the second half. Unfortunately for the Mount, FDU came up with enough plays to hold on. But you certainly had to feel if the game went another 5 minutes, it might have been a different result.

Hopefully, some of that late game spark carries over until tomorrow night versus Monmouth. King Rice brings his 5-9 Hawk squad to Knott Arena. Not to long ago, Monmouth was 5-3, but has dropped six straight including its first NEC game to Wagner. Monmouth plays an up and down game and has some similarities to the Mount. The Mount can't allow Monmouth to get any confidence early as they are likely to be reeling with the six straight losses. They will want to end the streak, the Mount will need a solid effort to prevent that.

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Mount O'Links 1/4/2012

Bobcats lose final NEC Opener

Mount game story from Carroll County Times

Mount game story from Frederick News Post

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Thursday, January 03, 2013

FDU wins at Knott Arena

Fairleigh Dickinson parlayed a quick start and a cold shooting Mountaineer team into a 72-65 NEC

Opening Night win at Knott Arena. The loss was the Mount's first at home this year.

FDU shot a sizzling 70 percent in the first half, scoring 25 points in the first ten minutes to seize control of the basketball game. The Mount made 50 percent of it's 2 point attempts in the first half (11-for-22) but missed all of the odd-numbered shots going 0-for-4 from the free throw line and 0-for-10 from behind the arc.

All of that resulted in a 39-22 lead for the Knights at the break.

The Mount fought hard during the second half and tried on numerous occasions to turn the outing into a real game. But each time Fairleigh Dickinson needed a play they got one. And the Mount despite getting good performances inside from Kristijan Krajina and Taylor Danaher could never find the range from the outside.

I'll have more on the performance tomorrow after I take a little time to digest the whole game.

Monmouth is next for the Mount on Saturday evening at Knott Arena.

Mount Athletics recap

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Mount O'Links

Christian and Mount ready for NEC

BobbyMo is Clearly the Favorite How bout the lack of respect though from the New Haven paper? They've got the Mount 10th headed into the NEC season. Really?

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A New Year, An Old Friend

Much of the glitz and glamour that we've seen from this site in recent months is gone. But I'm back to my original home with Blogger, because of the conveniences in posting for me, and the conveniences in commenting for you.

Unfortunately, we lost the information that I shared since we made the move in August, but in the long run, I think it's a move that will benefit both you as the reader. And me as the blogger.

Happy New Year Mount Fans! Get out to the game tonight.

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