Preseason Preview: Mt. St. Mary’s


(Photo by Ryan Messier/Paint Touches)

The first official practices of the 17-18 college basketball season are in the books and Paint Touches is celebrating by counting down every Marquette opponent from worst to first. Each preview will contain a look at how the opponent did last season, who they lose, who they gain, reasonable expectations for their season, and our own prediction of how their matchup(s) with Marquette will go. This series will start with the most under of underdogs and progress all the way up to most unbeatable of opponents. Next up is Marquette’s regular season opener and technically first game of the Maui Invitational, the Mountaineers of Mt. Saint Mary’s.

Team: Mount Saint Mary’s Mountaineers
16-17 Record: 20-16 (14-4 NEC)
Postseason?: AQ for the NCAA tournament from the NEC. Won a play in game in Dayton against fellow 16 seed New Orleans before being demolished by 1 seed Villanova.
16-17 KenPom: 209
Date: 11/10/17
Location: BMO Harris Bradley Center
Coach: Jamion Christian (6th season)
Projected KenPom Range: 225-275
Projected Conference Finish: 2/10 in the NEC

Departures from 16-17
Elijah Long: Starting G: 34.4 mpg, 15.0 ppg, 5.2 rpg, 4.4 apg, 1.6 spg, 0.1 bpg, 3.4 tpg, .412 FG%, .382 3P% (Transferred to Texas)
Miles Wilson: Starting G: 28.9 mpg, 11.8 ppg, 3.9 rpg, 0.7 apg, 0.8 spg, 0.5 bpg, 2.0 tpg, .454 FG%, .362 3P% (Transferred to Miami [FL])
Mawdo Sallah: 1st Man off the Bench: 20.2 mpg, 6.1 ppg, 5.3 rpg, 0.3 apg, 0.4 spg, 1.1 bpg, 1.1 tpg, .527 FG%, .000 3P% (Transferred to Kansas State)
Will Miller: 2nd Man off the Bench: 12.4 mpg, 3.0 ppg, 1.2 rpg, 0.2 apg, 0.2 spg, 0.0 bpg, 0.3 tpg, .288 FG%, .280 3P% (Graduated)
Khalid Nwandu: 3rd Man off the Bench: 7.7 mpg, 1.0 ppg, 1.0 rpg, 0.8 apg, 0.3 spg, 0.1 bpg, 0.7 tpg, .62 FG%, .000 3P% (Graduated)
Charles Glover: 5th Man off the Bench: 4.6 mpg, 0.7 ppg, 0.6 rpg, 0.2 apg, 0.1 spg, 0.2 bpg, 0.3 tpg, .368 FG%, .000 3P% (Graduate transferred to Longwood)
Bryce Thurston: Benchwarmer: 2.4 mpg, 0.7 ppg, 0.3 rpg, 0.3 apg, 0.0 spg, 0.0 bpg, 0.0 tpg, .400 FG%, .250 3P% (only appeared in 7 games) (Left Team for Personal Reasons)
Sean Gurdon: Benchwarmer: 1.5 mpg, 0.0 ppg, 0.3 rpg, 0.2 apg, 0.0 spg, 0.2 bpg, 0.2 tpg, .000 FG%, .000 3P% (only appeared in 6 games) (Left Team for Personal Reasons)
Randy Miller Jr: Benchwarmer: Did not appear in any games (Transferred to Moberly Area Community College)
54% of scoring, 56% of rebounding, 58% of assists, 54% of steals, 47% of blocks, 44% of 3PM

Omar Habwe: 3 star SF, ranked #497 by 247Sports
Jack Vukelich: 2016 2 star PF, returns from redshirt
James West IV: 2 Star PG, unranked
Jonah Antonio: 2016 2 Star SG, returns from redshirt
Bobby Planutis: 2 star SF, unranked
Ace Stallings: 2 star C, unranked
Nana Opoku: 2 star PF, unranked
Donald Carey: 2 star PG, unranked
Brandon Leftwich: Walk on PG
Odri Dedolii: Walk on SG
Ross Young: Walk on PF

Probable Starters:
PG: Junior Robinson: 5-5 150 lb SR: 33.3 mpg, 14.1 ppg, 1.6 rpg, 2.9 apg, 0.9 spg, 0.1 bpg, 2.6 tpg, .423 FG%, .398 3P%
SG: Greg Alexander: 6-5 205 lb RSSR: 26.0 mpg 7.7 ppg, 2.4 rpg, 0.3 apg, 0.5 spg, 0.3 bpg, 0.6 tpg, .388 FG%, .358 3P%
SF: Omar Habwe: 6-6 225 lb FR: 3 star SF, ranked #497 by 247sports
PF: Chris Wray: 6-8 205 lb SR: 29.5 mpg, 7.0 ppg, 5.7 rpg, 1.5 apg, 1.4 spg, 1.5 bpg, 1.4 tpg, .580 FG%, .000 3P%
C: Ryan Gomes: 6-10 240 lb SO: 6.5 mpg, 2.2 ppg, 1.0 rpg, 0.0 apg, 0.1 spg, 0.2 bpg, 0.3 tpg, .611 FG%, .000 3P%

Probable Bench:
Jack Vukelich: 6-9 210 lb RSFR PF
James West IV: 6-1 165 lb FR PG
Jonah Antonio: 6-5 180 lb RSFR SG
Bobby Planutis: 6-8 190 lb FR SF
Ace Stallings: 6-10 230 lb FR C

Probable Benchwarmers:
Nana Opoku: 6-8 186 lb FR PF
Donald Carey: 6-5 185 lb FR PG
Brandon Leftwich: 6-2 177 lb SO PG
Odri Dedolli: 6-3 177 lb FR SG
Ross Young: 6-7 196 lb FR PF


• Mount St. Mary’s is Marquette’s “mainland” opponent for the Maui Invitational and will also serve as the season opener for the Golden Eagles. After a run to the NCAA tournament, with a team whose only seniors came off the bench, the Mountaineers were shaping up to be a high quality non-conference opponent. Then came transfer season. The Mount lost 5 players to transfer, including three players who were quality enough to end up at high majors. Big man Mawdo Sallah went to Kansas State, starting wing Miles Wilson went to Miami (FL), and their best player, Elijah Long, ended up in Austin playing for the Fighting Shakas. The Mountaineers retain three quality starters and a role player from last year’s squad, but that’s it. Every other player on the roster in 17-18 will be someone who didn’t play for the Mount in 16-17.
• Fortunately for the Mount (and Marquette), the rest of the NEC is terrible. Despite the freshman heavy roster, Mt. St. Mary’s will have a good chance to finish near the top of the conference, racking up some decent win totals in the process.
• There won’t be many occasions where Marquette has a size advantage at the PG position, but they will for this contest. 5-5 Junior Robinson was the starting 2 guard and backup PG for the Mountaineers last season. He figures to take over the PG spot with the departure of Long. As one might expect, a player that short excels at three-point shooting. He led the team in 3P% and was 2nd in 3PM. But he is far from a one-dimensional micro-sniper. Robinson uses his speed and lack of size to weave in between defenders, often drawing fouls in the process. He figures to be the biggest scoring threat for the Mount this season.
• Robinson will be joined in the backcourt by fellow sharpshooter Greg Alexander. He is more of a one-dimensional player shooter. 72 out of his 92 made field goals last season came from beyond the arc. He was the fourth or fifth scoring option last season so he will need to find a way to diversify his game if he’s going to be effective as one of the top scoring options.
• The third and final returning starter for the Mount is big man Chris Wray. He doesn’t add much in term of raw points but he is efficient in what he does, posting an eFG% of 58% last season. Combined with the 61% eFG% put up by the other guy likely to be starting in the post, Ryan Gomes, you could have a low scoring but highly efficient low post presence. Don’t expect Wray to step away from the basket on offense though. While FT% no matta (tip of the hat to my friends at scoop), Wray’s 31% FT% tells you how poor of a shooter he is. His real value comes on the other end of the floor, where he has the speed to guard the perimeter and the size to defend the rim. He led the team in both steals and blocks per game, with 1.4 and 1.5 respectively.
• With only four returning players from last year’s squad, Coach Christian will rely heavily on his freshman class. Unfortunately, there’s not much that’s even known about these players. Several of them don’t have pages on sites like Scout, 247, and ESPN. The highest rated one is 3 star Omar Habwe out of Baltimore. He’s an undersized post with some limited mobility and some shooting touch from outside. He is the most likely to get the start for the Mount. Jonah Antonio is mostly an unknown but has some recorded prowess as a sharpshooter back home in Australia. He redshirted this past season and could end up seeing some important minutes.

This is one of those games where Marquette should steadily increase its lead throughout the contest until it is out of hand. The only chance that this stays close is if Robinson goes unconscious from deep like he did at Michigan last season, sinking 5 of 6 threes. But even then they still lost by 17. Howard and Rowsey should take full advantage of finally having a defender smaller than they are and go for 20 points each. Marquette ends up winning by around 25.

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Categories: Home, Offseason, Previews

Author:Ryan Jackson

Texas A&M Professional, Marquette Fantatic


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