11/14/12 — Inexperience drives MOC men's basketball team to improve each day

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Inexperience drives MOC men's basketball team to improve each day

By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on November 14, 2012 1:48 PM

Mount Olive College came to the realization that it doesn't want to experience the "hard-knock life" on the basketball court this season after its preseason exhibition game at Old Dominion University.

The Monarchs punched the Trojan men in the mouth and opened their eyes a little bit.

"ODU was exactly what we needed," fifth-year MOC head basketball coach Joey Higginbotham said. "We've had some good practices since we've been back. This is probably the most-inexperienced team I've had in my five years. We definitely have the talent.

"We've made strides in the right direction, but have a ways to go."

The newcomers have showed promise.

Some returners have elevated their game.

Finding the right blend and developing chemistry is paramount for Mount Olive, which lost its top two leading scorers -- Craig Hayes and Derek Staton -- to graduation. The duo accounted for nearly half of the team's offensive output last season.

Slashing guard Dory Hines returns along with backcourt mate Mahamed Ibrahim and power forward Jordan McCain. Hines ranked first on the team in defensive rebounds (110), second on the team in total rebounds (177) and third in free throw attempts (112).

When Ibrahim started playing consistently, the Trojans overcame their slow start and posted 21 wins. Senior Darrell Patterson, who has played off and on the last three years, should help bolster the backcourt.

"We're going to play our offense through the paint, emphasize getting the ball down low and play inside-out, which is what we have always done," Higginbotham said. "We're going to have to rely on our backcourt a lot. Our young big guys are coming along. I was pleased with our post play against ODU.

"On the other hand, I wasn't pleased with our perimeter play and our transition defense. Those are areas we have to improve on."

Mount Olive forced 383 turnovers and picked opposing teams for 196 steals last season. Higginbotham anticipates putting a defensive-minded team on the court that might not necessarily duplicate those numbers, but hopes it creates enough mistakes from its opponents to ignite a fire in the Trojans' belly.

Newcomer Dontrelle Brite, a freshman from Chesapeake, Va., should help create ball pressure for 94 feet. Freshman Mike Moore, a James Kenan alum, has shown some athleticism in the paint and provides some length with his 6-foot-7, 195-pound frame. Freshman Dominique Reed (6-6, 205) has provided some quality minutes in preseason action.

John Wieland is a perimeter player whom Higginbotham expects to stretch the floor and keep opposing defenses honest.

"Mike gets better every day in practice," Higginbotham said. "We're trying to get him a little meaner, but his (potential) ceiling is unlimited because he can be really, really good. Dominique gives us a lot of length rebounding and he can run the floor.

"John has had some really good practices."