Written for your enjoyment by: Raff
The first 29 games are really just the appetizer.
All that matters to a low-mid-major conference is the conference tournament. Because that is what determines who goes to the NCAA tournament. For Mt. St. Mary's and the rest of the Northeast Conference - that starts tonight.
Because if you're Lipscomb and you win a conference championship but bow out in the first round of the conference tournament - all you get is a trip to the NIT. And you're headed to some BCS school's gym who didn't make the real tournament - at that.
So no doubt winning the conference tournament makes up for a lot when the regular season didn't go as planned. And let's not hide behind anything....the regular season didn't go as planned. And we can sit here and talk about all the reasons - and there are some legitimate ones - but three wins over the next seven days and we don't have to talk about those things.
Today's encounter with St. Francis PA will not be easy. It is the same Red Flash team that the Mount dismantled one week ago in Emmitsburg. However, it is also the same team that defeated the Mount in Loretto back in December.
Senior Devin Sweetney will be a key for St. Francis tonight. He is St. Francis' leading scorer - and the Mount basically shut him down in last week's win. They'll have to do something similar tonight - but totally eliminating his production may not be realistic. I'm sure the gameplan will try to take him away - but you can be certain the Red Flash staff has spent the week trying to figure out what went right last week. And they'll try to maximize that tonight. I expect to see several different players guard Sweetney tonight - as they did last week and that could mean more minutes for Pierre Brown.
The Mount dominated on the glass last week - and they must do that again tonight. Raven Barber and Shawn Atupem must control bodies inside and allow the rebounds to be won by guys like Will Holland (who had double figures a week ago in that category), Jean Cajou and Kelly Beidler.
Offensively, the Mount must continue to be efficient and share the basketball. They shot poorly against Robert Morris on Saturday - and some of those shots seemed to come in rushed situations. They must eliminate those rushed shots and make the extra pass to get the better shot.
Expect seniors Jeremy Goode, Will Holland and Kelly Beidler to carry the load - and junior Shawn Atupem to continue his strong play down the stretch.
I look for a close first half - with the Mount getting some separation early in the second - or possibly in the closing minutes of the first. Ultimately, I like the Mount 69-56 in this one.
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