Sleeping With The Enemy: The Mount Saint Mary’s Mountaineers

Hopefully, future generations develop a last name long enough to form a complete circle.

It feels like ages since the long, well built arm of Tim Ambrose crushed the dreams of a different NEC team, so to help ease us out of the off week, Ryan Raffensperger (what a last name!) of “The Fan Blog” answers hard hitting question about the Mounties. Part of me wishes that Ryan was an opposing player, rather than blogger- it’s good fun when they horseshoe names to fit on jerseys. His answers below, and while PNG takes on his questions here.

Purple and Gold Nation: You’ve had a nice run the last few years, but you lost your coach to Holy Cross and graduated most of your top players. How’s the transition going? What changes have you noticed?

2010-11 was going to be a transition year no matter how you sliced it for the Mount. The coaching staff change just added to the issue. Three players who were prime contributors for four years graduated – and then the one key returnee took a leave of absence this fall semester. The difference in the coaching staffs in noticeable. Milan Brown was a system guy – and will do well at Holy Cross once he has players to play his system. On the face of it Rob Burke seems more like a coach who will adjust his style to fit his personnel. And if I was going to classify Burke as an offensive/defensive coach, I’d definitely go with offensive. Brown was clearly a defensive minded coach. I always joked that he’d have been good at the World Cup, happy with a 1-0 win. But the cupboard wasn’t exactly bare, although injuries have made it even more challenging.

Who are your top scorers and in what way are they most dangerous?

Shawn Atupem and Lamar Trice have led the Mount in scoring this year. But it really has been a balanced attack. Six different Mountaineers have been the high scorer at one point or another in just ten games. Three of those guys would have to be considered post players, while the other three play on the perimeter. Again, I think this is a credit to Coach Burke who has been able to find ways to get guys the opportunity to score. Trice is a Philly point guard who likes to get deep into the paint. But he’s also shown an ability to knock down some open jumpers and can get streaky. Atupem is a wiry 6-foot 7-inch forward who plays a lot in the post. If he stays out of foul trouble he can be a real force inside with his athleticism and ability to finish.

You’ve got a lot of youngsters on the team- of those you didn’t mention above, anyone who would you consider an x-factor even if the numbers don’t quite reflect that?

The offense seems to work the best when Josh Castellanos, a freshman guard from Orlando, has it under control. He isn’t going to score a lot of points, but he has had a few high assist games and seems to be a calming influence a lot of the time. He replaced Trice in the starting lineup after the Niagara game and it has seemed to help both. Julian Norfleet is another freshman who is probably the only true shooter on the team. Sometimes, he plays more as a scorer but if he’s square to the basket and gets his feet underneath his jump shot, there is a good chance it’s going in. David Golladay is the final freshman starter and he does a little bit of everything well. But with the end of the first semester and the ability for this team to show new things every time out, who knows what the x-factor might be Saturday evening.

Who are your top rebounders?

Rebounders? I guess I’ve got to go with freshman walk on Dan Kenny – who has 1 rebound in 0 minutes this year. Seriously, the rebounding on this team has been a concern of mine since the start and one that I haven’t fully been happy with. However, when playing teams of similar ability it has been a positive at times this year. Raven Barber, Danny Thompson, Jacolby Wells and the aforementioned Atupem all are athletic forwards who can get the big rebound when needed. Thompson has probably been the most consistent of the bunch. But with playing three guys on the perimeter, rebounding becomes a team effort and one that the Mount must continue to get better with.

Have you ever climbed Mount St. Mary’s?

No, but I have been to the top Ski Liberty (via a chairlift of course) in lovely Fairfield PA just up the road.

What type of pace do you play? Defensive pressure?

With the new coach there is still an element of surprise even for us each time out. We’ve seen more zone recently, but it’s a pretty active zone. Mostly though it has been man-to-man defense and a pretty good defensive team when you look at Ken Pomeroy’s effective FG% numbers. The issue has been limiting the opponent to one shot per possession. When the opponent is getting nearly 40% of their missed shots, it makes even the best defensive efforts fruitless as eventually a bucket is scored.

We beat Niagra by ten, you lost to them by two. Kenpom says you have only a 37 percent chance of winning. Any thoughts of forfeiting and saving the gas money? We’ll take .500 any way we can get it. Gosh, it’s been a long time since we’ve been good enough to say we’re average… In all seriousness, why is MSM now a better team than the one that lost to Niagara?

Ahhh, you’ve got to bring up Niagara. I think that is the one game that really sticks in everybody’s crawl as the one that got away. The Mount played at Niagara early in the year and had a double-digit second half lead slip away. It probably had as much to do with the Mount making mistakes as it did Niagara making plays. On the road in a similar situation they were able to put away a Sacred Heart team in the second half. Although the most recent loss was the worst performance of the season, the previous nine games all showed growth within the team. I don’t think they’d let the lead get away from them at Niagara again.

What do kids at Mt. St. Mary’s, the schools second oldest Catholic school if Wikipedia is correct, do for fun these days?

Wikipedia not correct? I’m not like most other bloggers. I’m not a Mount student or alum. I just grew up in nearby Gettysburg PA and my father is an alum, so I’ve been a lifelong fan. Other than go to basketball games, I’m sure they spend some time at the Ott House in downtown Emmitsburg. Both Washington DC and Baltimore are close by and I’ll routinely see Mount students among the folks at the eating (and drinking) establishments in Gettysburg.

NEC basketball word association, I’ll start, you finish: CCSU: short, FDU: terrible, Mt. St. Mary’s: ??

Work in Progress. My guess is that if you’re describing CCSU as short – you’ll define the Mount as the same, or shorter. And the truth is I chose Work in Progress among three possibilities, short and athletic being the other two.

Does any othr skl in cntry hve more abbrvs than u?

You about had me with that question. It’s good for the tweets I suppose. But there are quite a few possibilities out there. And there are also quite a few nicknames that float around. Mountaineers, Mounties, MSM, The Mount. It’s good to be number one at something.

Prediction?

I’m really anxious to see how the Mount responds this weekend. Last weekend was a clunker. A real bad effort against the “Siena” (Ed. Note: You clearly do not understand the gravity of that statement) of the Mount schedule. It was the 167th meeting in that rivalry. So they have to put that behind them. Based on all the offseason changes and then the injuries the Mount is to some extent exceeding expectations. Nobody is happy with the 3-7. We were 3-7 last year (3-11 actually) and still managed to finish above .500. There has been definite improvement from Game one through now. I’ve gotten to the point where I’m getting fairly confident in the coaching staff and the decisions they make. I just have a feeling that as bad as last weekend was, this weekend is going to be that good. Mount 67, Albany 63.Thanks for the opportunity. Looking forward to a good game Saturday and hope that UA returns the trip next season.

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~ by TheMidRangeGame on December 17, 2010.

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