Mount St. Mary's Basketball Preview: #122
Mount St. Mary’s Mountaineers
Overall Rank: #122
Conference Rank: #1 Northeast Conference
2008-09: 19-14, 12-6
2008-09 postseason: CIT
Coach: Milan Brown (79-105 at Mount St. Mary’s, 79-105 overall)
Mount St. Mary’s is certainly not a basketball powerhouse, not even in its own conference, but Coach Milan Brown has put together two consecutive quality seasons and there is little reason to believe that the Mountaineers will not be in the mix yet again for a title in the Northeast Conference. The absence of Sam Atupem and Markus Mitchell will be big, but this group has the players to make the frontcourt at least serviceable.
Key Losses: F Sam Atupem, F Markus Mitchell
And one of those frontcourt players will be incoming freshman Raven Barber. The 6-8 forward will be asked to play a role in the paint from day one and he could work his way into the regular rotation. The same can be said for Kristijan Krajina. The 6-9 Croatian is a great athlete who can play facing the basket or back down smaller opponents. The problem is he is still recovering from an injury suffered last season and it might be a while until he is able to emerge as an effective player for the Mountaineers.
Mount St. Mary’s may have had the edge over their opponents due to their frontcourt depth last year, but it was two players on the perimeter who led the team in scoring. Point guard Jeremy Goode dished out 4.1 assists per game and led the team with 14.9 points per game. Goode is also the best outside shooter on the team and a pretty good rebounder for a 5-9 point guard. Jean Cajou will once again be by his side after averaging 12.6 points per game during his sophomore campaign. Cajou is also a decent ball handler and a capable outside shooter. At times his long range shot was not falling during the 2008-2009 campaign and Cajou could emerge as a major scoring threat if he can connect on a few more of his attempts.
There is still talent in the paint even without Atupem and Mitchell. Most notably is Atupem’s brother Shawn. The returning Atupem is not the shot blocking that his brother was, but he is a more capable scorer. Shawn Atupem will step into his own and the starting job under the basket should be his. That leaves the versatile 6-5 forward Kelly Beidler as the main shot blocking threat on the team. Beidler scored 10.9 points per game and led the team with 6.9 rebounds. His stature may be small and he might have to move to the four spot, but Beidler should have no problem putting up big numbers no matter where he plays.
Who to Watch:
If Beidler moves to the four spot, that would put Will Holland back into the starting lineup. Two years ago Holland was third on the team in scoring and started all 34 games. Last year he only averaged 4.9 points per game and failed to earn a start all year long. Holland struggled coming in off the bench and his shooting numbers went down a lot. The Mountaineers need to get Holland back on his game if they hope to go back to the post season.
There are not many holes on this roster. Depth might be an issue if players like Pierre Brown and the newcomers are not ready to contribute, but the starting five is full of proven talent and few teams in the NEC will be able to keep up with Goode, Cajou, Beidler and Atupem. If those four play as well as they did last year, Mount St. Mary’s will have a good shot at getting back to the NCAA Tournament.
Projected Post-season Tournament: NCAA
Projected Starting Five:
Jeremy Goode, Senior, Guard, 14.9 points per game
Jean Cajou, Junior, Guard, 12.6 points per game
Will Holland, Senior, Guard, 4.9 points per game
Kelly Beidler, Senior, Forward, 10.9 points per game
Shawn Atupem, Junior, Forward, 9.6 points per game