03/09/07 — Back to the Big Dance: MOC men face Millersville (Pa.)

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Back to the Big Dance: MOC men face Millersville (Pa.)

By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on March 9, 2007 2:44 PM

MOUNT OLIVE -- Experienced and loaded.

Mount Olive College men's basketball coach Bill Clingan used those two words to describe Millersville (Pa.) University, the Trojans' opening-round opponent in this weekend's NCAA Division II East Regional.

He's not wrong.

The Marauders boast a pair of guards -- junior Charlie Parker and senior Greg Testa -- who earned all-Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference East honors, and drew praise from opposing coaches regarding their style of play. Testa emerged Millersville's top scorer in 15 of 30 games, while Parker did it on 10 occasions.

"I've been told by a couple of people that they're the best backcourt they've played against all season," said Clingan. "They're not going to beat themselves and they make very few turnovers. The experienced guards know what to do with the ball, understand the philosophy and carry it through.

"I'm sure they've got some things they want to prove and it's up to us to counteract it on the court."

Mount Olive eliminated Millersville in the first round of the 2005 East regional and advanced to the Elite Eight. The rematch is scheduled for noon Saturday at Wilson Gymnasium on the Barton College campus.

The Trojans are the first -- and will be the only -- team in Carolinas-Virginia Athletics Conference history to appear in four consecutive NCAA Tournaments. The CVAC, after a 10-year existence, is changing its name to Conference Carolinas beginning next fall.

"We're very pleased to be in this thing again," said Clingan. "In this situation, anything can happen and realistically, anyone can beat anyone at this time of the year if you play up to your potential.

"I think you're going to see a very good basketball game."

And two great offensive teams.

Mount Olive ranks No. 5 nationally in scoring offense with 87.7 points a game, while Millersville is 26th overall at 82.1. The Marauders, however, have a better scoring defense (68.3 points) and rank 10th nationally in scoring margin (13.8).

Clingan said Millersville's offense feeds off its defense. The Marauders (26-4) average more than 10 steals and force nearly 21 turnovers a game.

"They pick up a lot of stuff off their defense," said Clingan. "They do more pressing (full court) than they have before."

The 6-foot-2, 180-pound Testa averages a team-leading 17.2 points and shoots 48 percent from the floor. Parker knocks down 16.4 points a game and hits for 49-percent accuracy from the field. The duo has converted a combined 197 of 268 free throws this season.

Sophomore Reggie Bates has increased his offensive production since mid-February and averages 12.7 points per outing. The 6-foot-5, 190-pound forward led Millersville in scoring for three consecutive games, including back-to-back 22-point efforts against West Chester (Pa.) and East Stroudsburg.

"Our defense is going to be our key like it's been in the bigger wins we've had this year," said Clingan. "We've got to contain their guards, do a nice job of boxing out inside and control the tempo."

Mount Olive has held opposing teams to 42-percent shooting from the floor and owned a plus-4.5 edge in rebounds this season. The Trojans average nearly nine steals and force 17 turnovers a game.

Offensively, the Trojans have four double-figure scorers -- Elton Coffield (16.4), Kendrick Easley (14.6), Elijah Rouse (14.2) and Brandon Streeter (14.0). Easley and Streeter are playing in their first regional.

"Both teams play similar styles, but with different tendencies," said Clingan. "They're athletic and their versatility in size at different positions helps them. Whoever counteracts and steps up to play their best (will win)."