Home » Columns » Currently Reading:

Mount St. Mary’s is full of positives

February 8, 2015 Columns No Comments

SMITHFIELD, R.I. – If Mount St. Mary’s seems like a program full of positive energy these days, there are a lot of sources for it. The simplest part of it is the reality that this is a young team, including their head coach, one of the youngest in Division I. While the team tries to grow, keeping those positive vibes will be important, especially as Northeast Conference play rolls on with its two-day turnaround on most weekends.

After Mount St. Mary’s lost a tough game at Bryant on Thursday – the latest dramatic game between these two in Smithfield – naturally the team and the staff knew it was there for the taking. But Jamion Christian, the alum who heads up the program, had lots of energy and can only beam with pride about his team right now.

“I just take so many positives,” Christian said. “We’ve got young guards out there, and they just battled back.”

Christian’s third season at the helm has been an uphill battle in a different sense than his first two. This team is much younger, with just one graduate student and one true senior. On the other hand, it’s constructed more of the kind of players to fit the Mount Mayhem style that the staff wants, and one of the bright sides has been that this team is pressing and turning teams over. They’re also a very improved defensive team overall, and that’s helped them to a 6-5 mark in Northeast Conference play despite the youth.

Thursday night’s game might be a microcosm of the season thus far. They showed plenty of promise, even leading by five at one point, but they also trailed by 11 around the midway point of the second half. Even with that, they battled back to within a possession, and had a chance to tie it at the end of regulation. They got the shot they wanted – getting it in the post to Gregory Graves, who had a good night for them (14 points, five rebounds), and he got a good shot that went in and out. While Bryant isn’t a team that turns opponents over, the Mountaineers gave the ball away just five times on the night, helping to keep them in it despite shooting just 25 percent in the second half.

Mount St. Mary’s didn’t win consecutive games until a four-game winning streak last month. Since then, they have traded wins and losses in the last five games, all something you’ll sometimes see from a young team. They have shown their potential in games like wins at Bucknell and at home against NEC leader St. Francis Brooklyn. They have lost three games in overtime, so they have been right there a lot of the way.

The staff sees this young team continue to battle and sees all positives. It certainly emanates from the coaching staff, and maybe that’s in part because they can afford to take a long view. Whether it’s how this team has come along, the potential, or how Mount Mayhem is very much alive now, there’s nothing but positive energy coming from them. And there’s a feeling that a turning point isn’t far away.

Christian talked about how this team is constructed better than his first two teams, and it’s clear in watching them. They have speed with diminutive point guard Junior Robinson, a heady guard in Byron Ashe (who had four assists without a turnover on Thursday) and a versatile guard in Khalid Nwandu who is baby-faced and slight but has loads of upside. They also have physical post players inside like Graves and Kristijan Krajina, along with Butler transfer Andrew Smeathers (who has been out for a few weeks with a leg injury but could return soon) and junior Taylor Danaher.

With Smeathers out, Graves is the key up front, as he can play inside and out as he showed on Thursday night.

“We’ve been really small the first two years, often playing four guards,” Christian reflected. “I love playing big, though, and we recruited to do that. Greg being able to play at the four for us is huge defensively. His ability to rebound the ball, both offensively and defensively, and his agility is really special. We’re trying to play bigger and trying to play faster, trying to do everything a little bit better.”

Even in defeat on Thursday, there was a lot of positive energy with this team. The feeling is that the close games will eventually go their way, but they’re not ready to win a game like this yet. They bounced back to beat Central Connecticut State on Saturday, improving to 7-5 in the conference and winning on the road for the fourth time.

Mount St. Mary’s has made runs late in the season each of the last two seasons, and this team seems poised to do the same. They defend very well for a young team and have won on the road, which is also something young teams don’t always do much of. The NEC is wide open, and what this team has done thus far plus the growth they clearly have in front of them mean they could make another run next month and add even more to the positive energy around and inside the program.

Comment on this Article:







Subscribe to Hoopville

Enter your email address to subscribe to Hoopville

Advertisement


Hoopville Archives

College Basketball Tonight

We hope you enjoyed COLLEGE BASKETBALL TONIGHT during the 2016 NCAA Tournament. COLLEGE BASKETBALL TONIGHT is a comprehensive look at the NCAA Tournament hosted by veteran college basketball broadcaster Ted Sarandis, along with co-hosts Mike Jarvis and Terry O'Connor, both former Division I coaches. It also included many great guests, including Hoopville's own Phil Kasiecki.

The show aired on AM 710 WOR in New York City on Sunday evenings starting with Selection Sunday and running through the NCAA Tournament.

Here are links to the shows:

March 13, 2016 - First hour | Second hour

March 20, 2016 - First hour | Second hour

March 27, 2016 - First hour | Second hour

April 3, 2016 - First hour | Second hour

Everybody Needs a Head Coach

Former college basketball coach Mike Jarvis has a new book out, Everybody Needs a Head Coach.

"As you read this book, I hope that Coach Jarvis' experiences inspire you to find your purpose in life."
-Patrick Ewing, NBA Hall of Fame center

"Mike Jarvis' is one of my special friends. I am so pleased that he has taken the time to write this fabulous book."
-Mike Krzyzewski, Five-time NCAA championship head coach, Duke Blue Devils

"In reading this book, I can see that Mike hasn't lost his edge or his purpose. Readers should take a look at what he has to say."
-Jim Calhoun, Three-time NCAA champion, UConn Men's basketball

Review on Hoopville coming soon!

Hoopville Podcasts

College Basketball Tonight – March 19, 2017

March 20, 2017 by

The first weekend of the NCAA Tournament is in the books, and after two rounds that could not be more different. Ted Sarandis leads the way as we break down the first two rounds, as well as coaching news that emerged over the weekend.

Talking Hoops With Ted Sarandis – March 18, 2017

March 18, 2017 by

In our latest podcast, we look back on the first round games in the NCAA Tournament, starting with a couple of terrific performances on Friday night.

College Basketball Tonight – March 12, 2017

March 13, 2017 by

We bring you College Basketball Tonight, a comprehensive look at the 2017 NCAA Tournament hosted by veteran broadcaster Ted Sarandis. The NCAA Tournament field is set, and we break down each region as well as some big picture subjects.

Talking Hoops With Ted Sarandis – March 10, 2017, Part 2

March 10, 2017 by

In Part 2 of our podcast, we talk about the ACC Tournament and others that have found new homes in light of comments made by a prominent coach that got quite a reaction, then we talk about the NCAA Tournament bubble as that subject begins to dominate conversation for a couple of more days.

Talking Hoops With Ted Sarandis – March 10, 2017, Part 1

March 10, 2017 by

In Part 1 of the podcast as Championship Week rolls on, we look at some important games in New York, as well as surprises in the Big 12. Also, more coaching changes are happening, and we talk about some of the news there.

Phil Kasiecki on Twitter

Recruiting Coverage

2016 Boston Back to School Showcase notes

September 12, 2016 by

We look back at the 2016 Boston Back to School Showcase, where a couple of Boston City League teams were among the most impressive on the day.

2016 Hoopville Spring Finale championship recap

June 28, 2016 by

We look back at the championship games of the 2016 Hoopville Spring Finale, which had a big local flavor as one might have expected.

2016 Hoopville Spring Finale preview

June 24, 2016 by

We look ahead to the 2016 Hoopville Spring Finale, held at a familiar location in Boston.

At the 2016 Boston Shootout, host BABC has a big day

June 8, 2016 by

Sunday was a big day for the host program at the 44th Boston Shootout

2015 Boston Back to School Showcase recap

September 18, 2015 by

The Boston Back to School Showcase gave high school teams from three states and north of the border a chance for a couple of early games. We take a look back at the day and a few who stood out.