Stop laughing, there really is a blog about mount st. mary’s university basketball.Â And Raff from thefanblog.blogspot.comÂ was nice enough to answer some questions about the mount st. mary’s mountaineers (or “the mount” for short).
Raff also interviewed me and here is a link to that interview: Niemo interviewed by the Fan Blog
Bio about Raff: Raff is a sports fan. He’s been a fan of Mt. St. Mary’s basketball since he was seven years old and he fell through the bleachers in the Old Memorial Gymnasium during the final two seconds of one of the most incredible finishes in the history of the South Atlantic Division II regional finals, in a game versus Elizabeth City State. A graduate of Syracuse University, his venom for the Hokies comes from those many years in the 90’s when the footbal rivalry was intense and of course for the way the Tech administration handled the ACC departure. He blogs regularly about the Mount, Syracuse and anything else he feels like writing about at thefanblog.blogspot.com.
1. Niemo: Tell me about mt. st. mary’s university.Â What is the school like?Â Good party scene or suitcase college?
Raff: I was never a full-time student there, although I did take a few classes. So I can’t really clue you in on the party scene. The school is the sixth smallest in Division I, so there is a true sense of community there – and the Mount Maniac student section seems to have a good time at games. I’m guessing that there are worse places to be on a Saturday night than on campus.
2. Niemo: The mount is a Catholic university.Â Do the ladies wear those sexy, naughty, Catholic-school-girl skirts?
Raff: This isn’t Southern Seminary or anything. And I take my 9-year-old daughter to the games with me – so I’m usually more worried about what she has on, then what the students are wearing. At least that is what I tell my wife.
[Note to Niemo’s gf if she’s reading this – Daddy likes the Catholic-school-girl skirts!]
3. Niemo: mount st. mary’s won the Northeast Conference (NEC) last year and won the “extra” NCAA Tournament game before being waxed by unc in the first round.Â What are expectations for the mountaineers this season?
Raff: Expectations are as high as they’ve ever been with the program at this level. Truly last year’s run came a year ahead of schedule. There was just one senior who got considerable minutes last year, and only two scholarship seniors on the roster this year. The heart of last year’s team were underclassmen. A tough non-conference schedule, as is always the case with the mid-majors, could leave them with a few welts but they should be stronger come conference play and the all-important NEC tournament. Just about every publication has picked the Mount to win the NEC this year and with good reason. But the players seem to realize that without three wins at the start of March, there is no hope to play in the Big Dance.
Click ‘Read more’ for the rest of the interview…
4. Niemo: Tell me about the mount’s best player, Jeremy Goode (who is only 5’9″).Â What is his game like?
Raff: Jeremy is best with the ball in his hands. He is a Cousy Award nominee and a preseason mid-major all-American. He scored 25 points in the opener at Loyola, where Jimmy Patsos, a former Gary Williams assistant, said they won’t see a better point guard all year. Might have been some coach-speak – but the Hounds are headed to BC for the preseason NIT and play Duke and NC State later. The bottom line is he’s at the Mount because he’s 5-9. If he were a few inches taller, you’d know a lot more about him in the ACC. He’s super-quick, with a good handle, and a little bit of flair. He shoots it fairly well, but he uses his quickness to get in the lane and get to the foul line. He shot 16 free throws on Friday. He knows he needs to make more of them and he made nine of his first ten on Friday, before twice missing a pair. He also distributes it pretty well and keeps his teammates involved. As a junior, he’s the captain, and he’s really starting to look like a leader on the floor.
5. Niemo: Are the mount’s bigs athletic or just space-eaters inside?
Raff: At 6-7, I don’t think its fair to call anybody a space eater. Seniors Markus Mitchell and Sam Atupem will start but neither is as athletic as Sam’s younger brother Shawn (who had 13 in the opener) and has an athleticism not often seen out of someone this size at this level of play. Tayvon Jackson saw limited minutes on Friday, but he is probably the next option at the moment. Again, I think you’d describe him as an athletic big who has demonstrated more defensively thus far in his career. The other option is to swing wing Kelly Beidler forward and let him play there. He’s strong and athletic and is expected to build on a strong finish to last season (17 points, 12 rebounds in the opener).
6. Niemo: What is the mountaineers style of play?Â Up-tempo?Â Gun the three?Â Press?
Raff: It sounds as if the Mount and Tech are going through similar transitions [playing more up-tempo]. Although maybe the Mounties have a bit of a head start. I thought head coach Milan Brown took the harness off Goode midway through last year, and it really made a difference. That led to the charge down the stretch. And they seem to be pushing it even more this year. They scored 20 points before the second media timeout last night, and then had 50 in the second half. They aren’t about to start chucking things up on the offensive end from behind the arc, but they made 6-of-9 on Friday and think they’ll probably shoot a few more than nine a night. The signature for the team in the Brown era has been its defense and I don’t think they want to get away from that. I think they are probably working hard on a few things at practice, because of some defensive issuesÂ [against loyola]. But in the end Loyola shot 44%. I’m sure they’d like to see that a point or two lower.
7. Niemo: The only thing most people know about mt. st. mary’s basketball (if they knew anything) is former coach Jim Phelan who finished with over 830 wins at the mount over 49 seasons as their head coach.Â Tell me about his legacy there.
Raff: The best comparison I ever heard was to Joe Paterno at Penn State. Obviously, the guy at State did it on a little bit larger of a level, but both guys kept their programs so good for so long, and did it the right way. In addition, they both touched the lives of so many young men. But yeah, they’ve named the court after him, they’ve retired his number 830 (career wins) and he goes into the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame next weekend. A great coach, but an even better person.
8. Niemo: Phelan was well known for his bow tie he wore for games.Â Is that a fashion statement at mt. st. mary’s games?
Raff: No – can’t think of when the last time I saw a bow tie in the crowd. Might have been at Phelan’s last game, when it seemed everyone had one on. But there was a year in the seventies or so when he gave up the bow tie and went to the straight one. They went like 7-20 and it was back to the bow tie.
9. Niemo: Does the mount have updawg?
Raff: And a good day to you sir.
[Dang – I’ll get someone one of these days with that one.]
10. Niemo: I recently arm-curled a Catholic nun and was told if that picture made it out on the internet, she’d be kicked out of the church.Â Am I going to hell for that?
Raff: Pretty sure that I am not the best authority on this. But I’d say the chances of a Mount upset might be better.
Thank you for your time, Raff! thefanblog.blogspot.com