BU Hoops Blog

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Saturday, November 29, 2008

The Rodney Dangerfields of College Hoop: The Mount St. Mary's Preview

Boy that Northeastern game was fun, wasn't it? The Terriers really cut those Huskies down to size.

No, we're not going to shoot 55% from the field every game, but we won't need to. We're not going to hit 15 3-pointers every game, but we won't need to.

Fact is, we're sitting pretty at 3-1, and feeling good about our chances for the rest of the out-of-conference.

The next test comes tonight. Mount St. Mary's is the first of 4 teams we play who were in the NCAA tournament last year. The Mountaineers were relegated to the national version of the America East's Stony Brook Invitational Play-In Game, where they defeated Coppin State. Then they went on to act as a punching bag for UNC.

They got stuck in the PIG because they play in the Rodney Dangerfield of all conferences, the Northeast Conference. Ain't nobody give the NEC no respect. The NEC has had its champ sent to Dayton 2 out of the last 3 years. But this year the Mount is out to change some hearts and minds, and make some noise. They're even listed on the Mid-Major Top 25 this week, at #23. (In case you were interested, BU only got one 25th place vote - but that might change after the NU win.)

So basically, Mount St. Mary's is not a team to just steamroll over. They're a team that, like BU, wants to show everyone that they can play. All this points to a great game tonight in Emmitsburg, MD. And who better to tell us about our next opponent than one of their own. Ryan, who writes about all things MSM at TheFanBlog.blogspot.com, has agreed to give us a little insight (oh, and if you want to read what we told his readers about BU, you can see it here):

BU Hoops Blog: Much like the America East, the NEC doesn't get much respect nationally. Tell us why BU should be worried about coming in to play reigning NEC champs, the Mount.

The Fan Blog: I think that the Mount will present quite a challenge for Terriers. Last year, the Mount ended up winning the NEC tournament by getting hot down the stretch. Most of last year's team minus Chris Vann, who was the team's leading scorer, returns for this year. And as most of us who follow Mt. St. Mary's basketball realized early in the year last year was that the Mount's best basketball was ahead of them. Last year's run was probably a year ahead of schedule. This is now a team with a good bit of experience that is still looking towards playing its best basketball. It has started the season playing well, but still has plenty of room to improve.

BU Hoops Blog: You've been following MSM for a long time - is this the best basketball team they've ever had?

The Fan Blog: No, I don't think so. Come the end of the season, maybe they'll be able to say that. However, as most of your fans realize the NEC and America East are one-bid conferences. Potentially, this team has a chance to be very good and maybe approach some of the levels that past Mount teams have. But when you talk the best teams in Mount history, its hard to ignore the 1962 National College Division Champions (and no, I didn't follow them back then). But I'd probably take the 1995-96 team if I had to vote for the best team ever. That team didn't make the NCAA tournament, but did play in the NIT. If memory serves me correctly, they lost only two regular season conference games, before falling in the NEC tournament. Along the way during the season they won at Georgia Tech, the defending ACC champs.

BU Hoops Blog: Granted, it's Thanksgiving break and many students are out of the area. But normally, what are the crowds like? Is basketball the big event on campus that students can rally around and get raucous? What kind of atmosphere will the Terriers be coming into? Are there any cool fan traditions?

The Fan Blog: The Mount is traditionally the best supported team in the NEC. I think the attendance numbers bear that out. It's early in the season and crowds tend to build as the season wears on. The Knott ARCC holds about 3500 at capacity. Anything more than half full on Saturday night would surprise me. However, with the fact that the NEC banner is being raised, and its the first home game since longtime head coach Jim Phelan was inducted into the College Hall of Fame it might bring a few more people out. But the fact that school had a little break for the holiday will keep the Mount Maniac (Student section) under control. That section is seated under the basket to the visiting team's bench side of the floor, which makes for some interesting conversation at times between the section and the end of the bench. The students really do a good job of supporting the team. I think not having a football team makes this one of the big on-campus activities. I don't know if its a tradition or not, but former BU head coach Roy Sigler, and current Mount color commentator has been known to pump up the crowd from his courtside seat when the team needs a lift.

BU Hoops Blog: Jeremy Goode led Mount St. Mary's in scoring last year, and is off to a great start again this year with 19ppg in the early going. What's his game like? Is he the team's MVP?

The Fan Blog: Jeremy is a small point guard, listed at 5-9, who is as quick as quick can be. His outside shooting has improved this season but he generally gets his points by utilizing his quickness to beat defenders off the dribble and getting into the lane, where he has an uncanny ability of drawing fouls. He has worked hard on his free throw shooting in the offseason, but has struggled again from the line of late. He also is a pretty good distributor of the basketball and runs Coach Milan Brown's sets pretty well. But it is his quickness and speed on the dribble that has allowed Brown to go away from his methodical half court offense.

BU Hoops Blog: John Holland is our highlight reel dunk artist - who from the Mount can we expect to match his ferocity on the rim? And yes I just described John Holland as ferocious.

The Fan Blog: I think that Kelly Beidler who will likely match up with Holland is about as athletic as they come at this level. He's had some nice dunks in games, but I've never thought what we've seen from him in action probably measures up with what he throws down in an open gym or on the playground. Shawn Atupem has shown the most ability in a game to rattle the rim. But maybe we're just spoiled at the Mount, figuring we'll never again see the likes of Alex Watson, who once did the dunk Dee Brown missed in the NBA Slam Dunk contest (the year he won) in a game.

BU Hoops Blog: Finally, give us a prediction for the game (blatant homerism expected and encouraged).

The Fan Blog: Homerism aside - and I can say that until I make the pick, I really think this is going to be a very good basketball game. I've kind of wavered all week about who I thought would win this game. I think the Mount has been tested very well early, and I think BU has played a tough schedule as well. And I think the Mount would have a better record if it had played BU's schedule. Just as I think BU would likely have lost both of the games the Mount has dropped. Ultimately, I think the Mount's defensive intensity will be the key to the basketball game. I picked the Mount to win 78-72 in my game preview, so I'm sticking with it.

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