MILWAUKEE-Mount St. Mary's won't be churning out any NBA players any time soon, but they have one heck of a player who could cause trouble for the Golden Eagles Friday night.
5-foot-11 senior guard Lamar Trice returns for the Mountaineers, a year after being named the most improved player in the Northeast Conference.
After averaging just under six minutes per game his sophomore season, Trice exploded in his junior season, averaging 13.3 points, 2.9 assists and 3.1 rebounds.
He's a huge part of the Mountaineers' offense, accounting for 29.4 percent of his team's possessions used and 30.8 percent of his team's shots while in the game. To put the numbers in perspective, both ranked him in the top 70 of all Division I players. Simply put, when Trice is in, he's keeping the ball and is looking to score.
On the other hand, Trice's high percentage of possessions used led to a team-high 113 turnovers, so look for the Golden Eagles to play aggressively against the point guard.
Shawn Atupem, the team's biggest inside presence from a year ago, graduated, leaving post duties to 6-foot-8 junior Raven Barber (7.3 points, 2.8 rebounds last year) and 6-foot-7 senior Danny Thompson (5.5 points, 6.0 rebounds, 1.2 blocks).
Neither will replicate Atupem's production, and their low rebounding numbers are a cause for concern inside. Look for Chris Otule and Davante Gardner to take advantage of this and both have big nights.
One other name to look for on the perimeter is sophomore Julian Norfleet. As a freshman, the 6-foot-2 guard averaged 9.3 points per game. He likes to shoot, as he averaged a whopping six three-pointers per game at just a 31 percent clip. Clearly the team is confident in their young scorer, but the Golden Eagles can't let the shot-happy Norfleet get hot.
Three things to watch for Friday Night
1) Defense: Let's be honest: Marquette has about a 95 percent chance of winning the game (KenPom.com has the Golden Eagles at 96 percent), but there is still plenty to watch for Friday night. The main key is how Marquette gets after it on the defensive end. Not so much how many points the team gives up, but whether they are contesting shots or allowing open looks, whether they get to 50-50 balls and are being vocal, whether they attack the glass or just use their size to grab boards. Not much can be taken statistically from Friday's game, but qualitative data will be important.
2) Point Guard Play: Don't worry about the minute distribution. In fact, don't even look at it. Buzz Williams is handing out minutes early in the season to help players acclimate to the college game and to gain confidence before Vanderbilt comes to town and the team travels to Wisconsin. Instead, look at who looks comfortable with the ball in their hands, having to make decisions. Junior Cadougan is the odds-on favorite to be the starter, but will Derrick Wilson show more or will Todd Mayo prove too valuable to keep off the floor? Does Vander Blue see any time at the point?
Jamail Jones vs. Juan Anderson: This is just a hunch, but these two are going to battle it out for the final rotation spot when the real games begin. Jones has made improvements on his jump shot, and Anderson has been touted by just about everyone in the program as the most impressive freshman. It's just one game, but it should be easy to tell if Jones has made improvements and if Anderson moves and plays like someone who can contribute immediately in the Big East.
Preview: Mount St. Mary's
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