Excited for upcoming season
Young St. Mary’s College men’s hoops squad includes North Point graduates Mouton, Bynum
St. Mary’s College of Maryland head men’s basketball coach Chris Harney may have a lot of youth, but he’s also excit- ed about his squad on the eve of the 2016-17 season.
“I’ll say this about our group, their work ethic reminds me of some of the great teams I’ve had in the past,” Harney said Harney, a two-time Na- tional Association of Basketball Coaches Middle Atlantic District Coach of the Year and three-time Capital Athletic Confer- ence Coach of the Year who has a 213-95 career record in 11 seasons. “If that’s any indication of the season we could have, I think people should be excited about what this team is able to do. This is an incredible group of gym rats.”
St. Mary’s returns just three players who saw significant minutes last year. It graduated three seniors and lost several other players. The Sea- hawks have just three seniors on this year’s roster.
“We have a young team and we have a lot of new faces, but we’re a talented team and we’re very deep,” Harney said. “We’re going to play a lot of guys. We also have some pretty exciting freshmen and transfers who have come in and who should give us a whole new look.”
One of those new faces is 6-foot-3 freshman guard Tre Mouton, who helped lead North Point to a state championship. Mouton is the nephew of Byron Mouton who helped the Terps win the 2000 na- tional championship.
Another first-year player is Matt Ayoub of Virginia, a 6-2 guard who Harney said broke several state shooting records and was named second team allstate.
“[Tre’s] a very talent- ed player and definitely worth keeping an eye on,” Harney said. “Both those guys will be impact freshmen.”
Harney has also added Ochae Bynum, a Prince George Community Col- lege transfer who was also a part of the Eagles’ championship team. Last season, Bynum averaged 6.7 points and 2.2 assists for the Owls. Alie Kon- deh, a 6-4 guard, is trans- ferring from Harford Community College.
“These guys are all tal- ented, athletic players,” Harney said, referring to the foursome.
The driver that will lead the Seahawks is returning captain Delaszo Smith, a junior who averaged 13.9 points, 3.9 rebounds and 2.0 assists last year.
“He’s really kind of everything,” Harney said of the 6-1 guard. “He’s our leader right now and he had a great offseason and he’s in incredible shape. Right from Day 1 he’s been impressive throughout this whole preseason. We’re going to give him the ball and trust him to be our leader.”
St. Mary’s will be hop- ing to build off last season when it compiled a 13-14 (810 CAC) record. The Sea- hawks had 15 games decid- ed by seven or fewer points and won seven of them. Three of its losses were to ranked Christopher New- port (Va.), including a sea- son-ending 57-56 setback in the CAC semifinals.
“I look at it as a good year,” Harney said of last season, during which St. Mary’s was down four starters at one point. “We faced a lot of adversity, but we tried to face it the best we could. It wasn’t the goal that we set out to meet, but I was proud of our effort. I thought we came a long way. It wasn’t the end result we wanted, but I thought the journey helped the guys really grow up.”
The Seahawks will play four of their first six games at the Michael P. O’Brien Athletics and Recreation Center Arena, including the season opener Tuesday against Penn State Altoona (Pa.) at 6 p.m.
“The key for us will be chemistry,” Harney said. “We’re going to play a lot of guys and we plan on playing an aggressive style so we need to consistently show up every night and put in the effort and consistently execute our offense and defense. We have to avoid, like a lot of young teams, the highs and lows.”
But Harney also knows the CAC features plenty of tough competition night in and night out. Harney said one poll Christopher Newport at No. 1, while another poll had the Captains at No. 2. In addition, he added Salisbury (21-7, 13-5 CAC last year) and Mary Washington (Va.) (15-12, 10-8) are returning most of last year’s teams.
“The biggest question mark is can a young team win the CAC?” he said. “We’re probably the youngest team in the league and this is probably, I would argue, one of the best conferences in the country. We really have a loaded league and the teams that were on the bottom last year all got better, so there’s no easy nights. But we’re ready for the challenge.”
And one of the toughest nights will be Thursday, when the Seahawks head to the Xfinity Center in College Park to face Divi- sion I Maryland.
“We’re all Maryland fans, but that night they’ll be our opponent and we’re going to give them everything we’ve got,” said Harney, who said he has plenty of respect for Terps coach Mark Turgeon and his staff. “We’re going to go in there and give it our best shot. We’re just really excited and to be honest with you the greatest thing about the game will be the experience we’ll have.”
Junior forward Marsalis Hurley averaged 6.8 points snd 6.4 rebounds last season for the Seahawks.