241 days separate the last time the Mount hit the floor for a basketball game - with tonight. In that time since, there have been a lot of happenings around the Mount basketball program. But none of it has taken the glow off the end of last season and what it meant for this program.
The players that remain are more than capable of carrying forth all the momentum that was gained during that month and a half stretch. In fact, they've been chomping at the bit to get back out there and compete.
Julian Norfleet will lead this group into action this season. He took over the point guard slot for Josh Castellanos, when Castellanos was sidelined with an ankle injury mid-January of last season. That move corresponded with the Mount winning 11 of its last 13 contests.
Transfers Sam Prescott and Rashad Whack were also vital in that stretch run. Both saw their playing time increase as the conference season wore on. Prescott scored 44 in a home beatdown of Bryant. Whack led the team in scoring last season, averaging just a tick under 14 per game. He knocked down 83 trifectas on the season to lead a Mount aerial attack.
Of course, there is the defense style as well. The full court pressing style of play that Mount Alum Jamion Christian calls Mayhem and brought with him from VCU when he arrived on campus a year ago April. A defense that forced opponents into turnovers on 24 percent of their possessions last season. Freshman Khalid Nwandu should help that defensive effort and is reportedly set to be a part of the starting lineup from the get go.
The media and the conference coaches have soured on the Mount a little since last season. The league preseason poll has them tabbed sixth. One spot higher than they finished last year.
This program doesn't feel like one in reverse. In fact, one college basketball coach told me recently, "They are going to finish a lot higher than sixth. I guarantee you that."
The non-conference slate starts tonight as it so often does on the road, in a facility of a big-time college athletic program. West Virginia is undoubtedly the favorite tonight. Kenpom.com gives West Virginia a 84% chance of winning and says the most likely result is a WVU 9-point win. Teamrankings.com says West Virginia would win 70% of the time, and says the most likely result is a West Virginia 72.3-66.7 win.
So the odds aren't in the Mount's favor. But does it matter?
This is Mayhem.
Year two begins tonight.
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