Tuesday, February 20, 2007
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The 2006-07 season has been quite an adventure for the Muhlenberg mens basketball team. After losing eight in a row, the Mules closed out the regular season with five straight wins to qualify for the Centennial Conference Tournament, keeping their journey alive. Their next stop: Gettysburg, to take on the No. 4 seed Bullets in the first round of the conference playoffs.
The amount of energy and passion on this team right now is amazing, said senior Brandon Mefford. I feel bad for the teams that have to play us.
Should the Mules defeat the Bullets on Wednesday, they would then travel to Johns Hopkins to face the No. 1 seed Blue Jays (21-4, 15-3), who earned a first-round bye. A
Any of the teams in this years tournament could potentially take the crown. Each of them has won at least three games against postseason qualifiers, and 13 of the 20 games played between the five teams were decided by eight points or fewer.
Anybody can win at any time, said Mefford, who leads the team with 65 assists (2.71 apg), good for 10th in the conference. Theres no clear-cut favorite because there are so many strong teams, and everyone has great coaches.
Muhlenberg picked up three big wins against potential playoff opponents in the regular season. The Mules earned a victory each over Gettysburg and Haverford earlier this year, and they most recently knocked off two-time defending champion Ursinus to cap their regular season-ending five-game win streak.
The morale on this team is the highest Ive seen it in a while, Mefford said. Everyone is committed to doing whatever they can to help the team succeed.
The Mules seem to be due for some success in the tournament and hope the third time will be the charm against Gettysburg (12-12, 10-8). Muhlenberg lost to the Bullets the previous two times they met in the postseason both times by a score of 68-59, first in the 2000-01 championship game and then in the 2001-02 semifinals.
This year Muhlenberg and Gettysburg split the regular season series, with both games going into overtime and each team winning on the others home court.
Its always tough to play at Gettysburg, but were just going to take it one game at a time, Mefford said. Everything weve learned all season has to come together now, and hopefully we can make the push.
If the Mules go on to face Johns Hopkins in the second round, they will look for magic
And just in case youre not yet tired of the number three, Muhlenberg is a perfect 3-0 in combined playoff games against Ursinus and Haverford, dating back to the days of the MAC in the 1960s.
The Mules will try to go out with a bang for their seven not three seniors, who have played a key role in the teams success this year.
Senior Tom Scott has led Muhlenberg of late, earning back-to-back CC player of the week honors after averaging 21.0 points and 7.6 rebounds in the last five games. The team will look to him to continue his recent hot shooting from the field (.621 last week) and behind the arc (.600) against the tough defenders they will face in the playoffs. Johns Hopkins, Gettysburg and Ursinus rank as the top three teams in field goal percentage defense with averages of .389, .390 and .401, respectively.
Senior Chris Huber will also likely play a key role for the Mules, as he averages 11.0 points per game this season and leads the team in three-point shooting overall (48-118, .407).
Then theres sophomore Mike Bernardini, who has come on strong in Muhlenbergs current winning streak. He has scored in double figures in each of the last five games, including two 20-plus-point performances.
If the Mules can carry the momentum from their five-game winning streak into the playoffs, they will have a good chance of upsetting their opponents as the natural underdog at the No. 5 seed.
We deserve this playoff spot, and now we have a chance to prove how well we can play, Mefford said. Were going to keep fighting until weve got nothing left.
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Last updated February 20, 2007