Ex­cited for up­com­ing sea­son

Young St. Mary’s Col­lege men’s hoops squad in­cludes North Point grad­u­ates Mou­ton, Bynum

Maryland Independent - - Sports - By MICHAEL REID mreid@somd­news.com Twit­ter: @SOMDhab­s­fan

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.”

PHOTO BY BILL WOOD

Ju­nior for­ward Marsalis Hur­ley av­er­aged 6.8 points snd 6.4 re­bounds last sea­son for the Sea­hawks.

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