Early Season Summary – Mount Men’s Basketball
After last season’s magical run to the NCAA Tournament, Mount St. Mary’s men’s basketball has had an up-and-down first few weeks in the 2021-2022 season. They currently sit at 3-6 with conference play starting in just a few weeks.
The campaign started off with two predictable outcomes, with a season-opening blowout loss to highly ranked Villanova and a historically lopsided win against Division-3 Washington College in the home-opener. While both games were interesting, neither allowed for much insight into what to expect from the Mountaineers going forward.
That is really the story of this Mount team so far—uncertainty in just how good they are. Since those first two games, they have accumulated both impressive victories (such as the 72-70 buzzer-beating win against Howard at home and the 74-70 win against Robert Morris on the road) and crushing losses (67-40 against Navy at home and 73-59 against Ohio on the road).
Looking at the statistics from the first nine games does not do a lot to help clear up the picture. As a team, the Mount has seen wild game-to-game swings in shooting percentage, both from the field and from three.
There are some positive signs, such as their decent offensive rebounding (10 offensive rebounds per game) and the emergence of guard Jalen Benjamin, who is leading the team in both scoring and assists. However, there are just as many negative signs, such as the fact that the team has more turnovers than assists at 136 to 102.
The real test for Mount St. Mary’s is going to be how they perform against the rest of the Northeast Conference (NEC). It is not a secret that the NEC is one of the worst conferences in Division 1. Prior to the season, Sports Illustrated ranked all 358 Division-1 teams and the highest ranked NEC team was Bryant at 177th (Mount St. Mary’s came in at 282nd).
Regardless of how they play against out-of-conference opponents, the only thing the Mount must do to make it back to March Madness is play well in conference games and in the NEC tournament. The team was only 12-11 last season and 9-7 in conference play, but a few good games in the conference tournament led to a dance with Texas Southern in March. There is plenty of room to grow, but there is room for optimism for this Mount men’s basketball team.