Mt. St. Joseph's opened up with a flurry, breaking out to an 8-2 lead two minutes into the game. The Gaels' All-BCL guard combo of Chase Adams (14 pts) and DeJuan Goodwin (10 pts) both scored early baskets to set the tempo, while Towson got off to a slow start.
Greene had an opportunity to get the Owls on the board early, but a Gaels defender cut into his path and disrupted his shot attempt, turning what looked to be a surefire dunk into a weak bricked lay-up. The next trip down saw Greene set up on the perimeter, blow by his defender, but then airball a 4-foot jumper in the paint.
Towson Catholic eventually regrouped and tied the game two minutes into the second quarter. Towson's surge came when their running game opened up, sparked largely by some great plays from Greene. The first came when he snagged a defensive board and threw a pinpoint fullcourt pass to teammate Leshon Edwards for a breakaway score.
Seconds later Greene pulled down another defensive board and dribbled the length of the court before kicking the ball out to Malcolm Deleany (12 pts), who drilled an open three. Greene then finished off the trifecta of assists when he drove in from the wing and dropped a beautiful pass to his cousin Brandon Greene for an easy lay-in.
Despite Greene's excellent passing exhibition, Towson couldn't keep up with Mt. St. Joseph's superior experience and strength. BCL player of the year Louis Birdsong, a 6-5 senior, scored 10 first half points, largely on putbacks and foul shots. Birdsong finished as the game's high scorer with 18 points.
Birdsong was also instrumental in limiting the scoring opportunities of Donte Greene, who took only the two aforementioned shots in a scoreless first half. With Birdsong taking care of business down low and Chase Adams adding a pair of three pointers, Mt. St. Josephs went into the break with a 33-25 lead.
A Brandon Greene (6-5 SO F) putback opened the scoring in the second half and it looked like Towson Catholic was back in the game, but Birdsong ignited an 11-3 run with a smooth turnaround jumper and two more scores right in Greene's face. Senior guard Kevin Swecker (14 points, 4 threes) then capped the run with a 3-pointer, giving Mt. St. Joseph's a 44-30 lead.
In the second half, Donte Greene started to bring his game inside to look for more scoring opportunities. He scored his first points of the ball game when he received an entry pass in the post and used his great quickness to get to the basket before Birdsong could put a body on him. Greene then did everything he could to get his team back into the game after the Swecker three-pointer had put them in a 14-point hole. He scored on a slick fadeaway jumper from the corner, then hit a long three pointer at the 3rd quarter buzzer to bring Towson back to within 9 points going into the final stanza.
From there, things fell apart for the Owls. After spending the first three quarters in a 2-3 zone, Towson coach Josh Pratt put on a 2-1-2 fullcourt press, which Mt. St. Joseph's immediately shredded to the tune of back-to-back open threes for Swecker, the second of which gave the Gaels a 15 point lead.
Greene helped cut the deficit back down to 10 with a pair of stunning plays. First he assisted Miguel Lloyd with a beautiful wrap-around pass off a slick dribble penetration move, then the next trip down the court he clamped down a hard-fought offensive board, then pulled off a pro-style step-through move that he finished with a picture perfect finger roll. Unfortunately, all hopes of a comeback were dashed when Greene followed these plays up with a careless turnover at midcourt at the 1:55 mark of the game. Adams and Goodwin proceeded to knock down 8 free throws in the waning minutes to seal the victory for the Gaels.
Donte Greene Assessment:
"He just looks like a Syracuse forward". By now it sounds like a cliché.
We've all heard these words in the past to describe some of the greats of SU
hardwood history – the words immediately conjure up the image of a tall, lanky,
long-armed athlete who can span the court in loping strides and leap tall
buildings with a single bound. Derrick Coleman. Louie Orr. Hakim Warrick.
Well, the jury's still out on this one. There is no doubt that he showed some serious flashes of brilliance, but he also showed some serious flaws to his game as well. His final stat line was 9 points, 7 rebounds, 4 assists, 2 blocks, 1 steal, 3 turnovers, and 4-8 fg (1-2 from three). Not exactly jaw-dropping.
That said, Greene did make an immediate impression. The very first thing I saw when I stepped into the gym was Donte Greene in the layup line. Despite never having seen a picture of Greene, it took all of 2 seconds to recognize him as a Syracuse recruit. He just has that look – that lanky body type and smooth gliding athleticism. His build and body immediately reminds you of Hakim Warrick, and even his mannerisms and the way he carries himself are reminiscent of the former SU All-American.
He has very good size – he was the tallest player on the court at about 6-8/6-9 (will he grow even more since he's only a junior?) but is rather skinny. He runs well in full court settings, but does not have as long strides as Warrick does, nor does he move in such a "purposeful" manner in transition. He was also clearly bothered by Birdsong's strength and physicality.
Greene spent most of the first half avoiding contact with Birdsong in the post, preferring instead to operate on the perimeter. He was more effective as a scorer in the second half when he started his offense on the interior before working back outside. When facing the basket, he showed off a quick first step, but he had trouble sustaining separation from Birdsong once he initially got by him. This appears to be more of a strength issue than a quickness issue. Indeed, Greene looks to have very good quickness, both laterally and vertically.
Even so, it was hard to get a real good feel for his leaping ability (which I have heard praised before), as Mt. St. Josephs constantly bodied him in the post and did a great job of transition defense. Greene's rebounding stats were more a reflection of his innate quickness and timing than positioning or technique. In truth, he didn't seem as explosive as I had expected, but he also didn't have many opportunities to showcase his jumping, so I will reserve judgment on this issue until I've seen him again.
One thing that REALLY, REALLY impressed me was how good he looked passing the ball. He seemed to have great chemistry with his cousin Brandon and delivered many pinpoint passes off the dribble. He could have had 2 or 3 more assists if teammates had finished lay-ups. He keeps his head up on the dribble about as well as I've ever seen for a high school junior of with his size.
The flip side of this is that he was (IMO) too unselfish for his own good. As the tallest, most physically gifted player on the court, he was in a position where he should have been able to exert his will upon the opponent. That never happened. At times it almost looked as though he was not giving all-out effort, although this could be a conditioning issue. He was shuttled in and out repeatedly in the first half even though he was not in foul trouble, although he did play almost the entirety of the second half.
The bottomline is that the physical tools and elements of the skill set are there. He projects as a player who can handle, pass, rebound, and shoot – he's the all-purpose SU combo forward that Boeheim loves and typically builds his system around. The main question is does he have the disposition and mentality to be that cornerstone player, that go-to guy that the current SU team is lacking? The good news is that he's still very young and has another year to hone his skills and grow into a leadership type of roll. If he can make that next step, SU might be looking at adding another name to that list.