Little Bounces Back at JUCO Nationals

Shortly after Thursday afternoon's 76-75 win over Shelton State Community College, Kansas signee and Chipola star wing Mario Little admitted that he was happy to be advancing to the next round of the junior college national championships. At the same time, he wished that he and his team were advancing in the winner's bracket, not the consolation.

After an opening night loss to Seward County knocked Chipola out of contention for the national title, the 6-5 wing said that it was tough to bounce back

“Ever since the summer, that’s all we’ve been thinking about, the national championship,” said Little. “When we didn’t get it, it was a real blast to the heart of everybody. Us, the coaches and all of the people back in Marianna took that one hard.”

After falling in the championship game in 2007, Chipola returned a talented lineup and arrrived in Hutchinson as the favorites to hoist the trophy. With their championship dreams dashed, Little and company took the floor Thursday and were very sluggish before rallying from a 15 point deficit in the second half.

“All we needed was a win to get some of our swagger back,” Little told Phog.Net. “Our swag was snatched from us two days ago but I think we’re getting it back.”

An athletic and physical wing who is at his best operating in transition, Little was good for 15 points and six boards on the afternoon. He thought he’d done some good things, but admitted that he sometimes made things a little more difficult than they needed to be.

“I don’t think I really played too well today,” said Little. “I just think that I’m making it too hard. I just gotta get back to playing my game and attacking.”

Looking ahead to next year, Little thinks that his experience will help him replace the hole that is going to be left should junior Brandon Rush declare for the NBA Draft as expected.

“Whenever I watch them I basically watch Brandon to see what he does and doesn’t do,” said Little. “I’ll probably have to fill his spot because he’s going to be gone. I think I’ve really developed my game getting to the rim and I’ve gotten my three point shot a lot better. I already had the mid range so I should be ready.”

Now into the semifinal round of the consolation bracket, Little is just trying to head back to Florida with some type of championship. Not surprisingly, he’s also paying close attention to Kansas and hoping that the Jayhawks take care of winning a national championship.

“I think that they have what it takes to go the whole way,” said Little. “They can score outside and inside and play defense. Of course I’m going to be following them closely and I hope they win.”

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