Thursday, November 17, 2005
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What does it take to be the best? Talent. Hard work. Focus. Determination.
The Muhlenberg mens basketball team wasnt far from being one of the best in the Centennial Conference in 2004-05. Although the Mules finished in sixth place, two games out of the final playoff spot, a closer look at the scores paints a different picture. Muhlenberg registered
Experience. When a game comes down to a missed free throw here, a hustling offensive rebound there, players who have been there before have the edge. That should be an advantage for Muhlenberg in 2005-06.
Although the Mules graduated four seniors, all of whom played significant roles last year, they return a veteran cast that includes nine seniors and juniors. Muhlenberg played for long stretches of close games with no seniors on the floor last winter, and that experience could pay off with the teams first trip to the playoffs in four years.
The Centennial Conference coaches, recognizing the quality of returning players, picked the Mules to finish in fifth place and make the playoffs.
The team has its most proven returning talent in the frontcourt, where Jimmy OBrien, the lone senior on the team, and junior Jeff Stewart have started for the last two years. OBrien, an All-CC selection two years ago, struggled with his three-point shooting as a junior, but still averaged 9.1 points and 5.3 rebounds per game. A career 49-percent shooter, OBrien is poised to finish with a solid senior season.
Stewart already has an impressive resume after only two seasons. He set a CC record with 16 double-doubles as a sophomore, averaging 19.4 points and 10.1 rebounds. He also blocked a CC-leading 56 shots. Stewart enters the 2005-06 season just 118 points from 1,000 and earned honorable mention on the D3hoops.com preseason All-America team.
The Mules have plenty of depth at the forward spots, with junior Justin
Juniors Tom Scott, Jimmie Riggins and Brandon Mefford give Muhlenberg athleticism on the wing. Scott, a co-captain, averaged 5.7 points last year and was second on the team in assists and third in three-pointers. Riggins and Mefford both sparked the Mules off the bench.
Muhlenberg has starting spots to fill at both guard positions. Junior Chris Pothering could see time at both shooting guard and point guard. He averaged 6.2 points per game last year and led the CC in three-point shooting percentage, while handing out 27 assists with only 18 turnovers. Junior co-captain Christopher Strachan provides steady leadership at the point guard spot.
The Mules also have a solid group of newcomers in the backcourt and will spend the early part of the season looking for the right combinations to turn those close losses into wins.
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Last updated November 17, 2005