Men's Basketball Opens Northeast Conference Play at Sacred Heart on Thursday Night

Men's Basketball Opens Northeast Conference Play at Sacred Heart on Thursday Night

Mount St. Mary's opens Northeast Conference play with a two-game road trip to Connecticut starting with a Thursday night matchup at Sacred Heart.

The Mountaineers are coming off an 81-68 loss to Navy at home on Monday night. The Midshipmen hit eight three-pointers in the first half and raced to a 45-32 lead at the half. The Mount was unable to close the deficit in the second half. Shawn Atupem and Raven Barber each scored 13 points to pace the Mount in the loss.

Atupem leads a balanced Mount St. Mary's scoring attack at 13.3 points per game. Julian Norfleet is averaging 11.5 points with Lamar Trice (10.7) and Raven Barber (10.2) also in double figures.

Freshman Josh Castellanos and Trice are tied for the team lead with 21 assists each while Atupem tops the squad in rebounds at 6.8 per contest.

Sacred Heart enters the game with a 1-4 record. The Pioneers have not played since a 50-42 victory over New Hampshire on November 23. Jerrell Thompson had 24 points and nine rebounds in the win to earn NEC Player of the Week honors.

Thompson leads the Pioneers in scoring at 12.8 points per game while Shane Gibson is averaging 10.4 per contest. Sacred Heart is averaging 55.6 points on the year while connecting on 38.8 percent from the field and 29.9 percent from three-point range.

Did You Know?...The Mount opens its 22nd season in the Northeast Conference against Sacred Heart on Thursday at the Pitt Center. This will be the third consecutive season the Mountaineers open NEC play on the road. The Mount is 9-12 all-time in NEC openers, including a 2-11 mark on the road. The Mount is 1-1 all-time against Sacred Heart in NEC openers, falling to the Pioneers, 80-75, on Dec. 4, 2008.

The All-Time Series... The Mount and Sacred Heart will be meeting for the 23rd time in the all-time series.
* Mount St. Mary's has won the past four meetings to take a 15-7 lead in the all-time series.
* One of the biggest wins in Mount St. Mary's history came at the Pitt Center against Sacred Heart. The Mount defeated the Pioneers, 68-55, in the Northeast Conference Championship game on March 11, 2008, to clinch the school's third bid to the NCAA Division I Tournament.
* The Mount is 5-5 all-time against Sacred Heart at the Pitt Center.
* Mount St. Mary's has won 10 of the past 14 matchups dating back to the 2003-04 season.
* Mount St. Mary's defeated Sacred Heart, 68-63, in the NEC Semifinals in 2009 to advance to the NEC Championship game for the second consecutive season.
* Last year, the Mount swept the season series, winning 69-65 on the road and 64-52 at home.

Last Time Out...Mount St. Mary's lost to Navy, 81-68, on Monday night at Knott Arena.
* The loss snapped the Mount's 11-game homecourt win streak that dated back to last season.
* Shawn Atupem had 13 points and seven boards while Raven Barber added 13 points and six rebounds in the loss.
* The Mount held a 42-to-28 advantage on the boards, but Navy held the edge in second-chance points (20-18).
* Navy hit 8-of-16 from three-point range en route to a 45-32 halftime lead.
* Navy scored 22 points off 20 Mount St. Mary's turnovers in the contest.

Mount Opens 22nd Season in the Northeast Conference...Mount St. Mary's opens its 22nd season in the Northeast Conference at Sacred Heart.
* Mount St. Mary's has lost the NEC opener in each of the past two seasons and is 9-12 all-time in the first game of the NEC slate.
* This will be the third-consecutive season the Mount has opened NEC play on the road. The Mountaineers lost at Sacred Heart (80-75) to open the 2008-09 season and at Robert Morris (63-57) to open the NEC schedule last year.
* Mount St. Mary's is 2-11 all-time on the road in NEC openers and is 7-1 at home.

The Mount and the Northeast Conference...The Mount is 184-193 all-time in NEC regular season games.
* The Mount is 110-78 at home and 74-115 on the road during the NEC regular season.
* Mount St. Mary's has posted a winning record in nine of the 21 seasons the team has been in the league.
* Since joining the league in 1989-90, the Mount has had 17 All-NEC selections, including six first-team honorees.
* The Mount won NEC Tournament titles in 1995, 1999 and 2008 and won the NEC regular season crown in 1995-96.

Defending the Knott...The Mount has made Knott Arena a difficult place for the opposition in recent years.
* Mount St. Mary's had its 11-game homecourt win streak snapped by Navy, 81-68, on November 29. It was the Mount's second 11-game homecourt win streak since the start of the 2008-09 season.
* Mount St. Mary's is 24-6 (.800 winning pct.) at home over the past two seasons. Last year, the Mount went 10-3 at home after posting a 12-2 mark at Knott Arena in 2008-09.
* The Mount has been even better in Northeast Conference play, posting a 16-2 mark over its past 18 NEC regular season home games. Including the playoffs, the Mount has won 19 of its past 21 home games against NEC opponents on Jim Phelan Court.
* The Mount has recorded a winning record at home in each of the past five seasons and has been .500 or better at home in 18 of the 23 seasons since Knott Arena opened.
* All-time, the Mount has a 171-118 (.592) record at Knott Arena.

Road Warriors...With the calendar turning to December, the Mount will play eight of its next nine games on the road.
* December begins with a five-game road trip that begins with Northeast Conference games at Sacred Heart (Dec. 2) and Quinnipiac (Dec. 4). The trip also will see the Mount play at Penn State (Dec. 7), Loyola (Dec. 11) and Albany (Dec. 20).
* After the home game with American, Mount St. Mary's will face a tough three-game stretch at Northwestern (Dec. 23), at Vermont (Dec. 29) and at Virginia Tech (Jan. 2).
* Mount St. Mary's is 0-3 on the road this season and is 13-27 over its past 40 road contests.

December Musings...Mount St. Mary's is 51-91 all-time in the month of December since moving to NCAA Division I in 1988-89.
* The Mountaineers are 30-27 at home, 16-58 on the road and 5-6 at neutral sites in thos games.
* The Mount has posted a 2-12 record in December over the past two seasons. Only three of those contests were held at Knott Arena.
* This season, the Mount will have seven of its eight December games on the road.
* The last time the Mount had a winning mark in the month of December was when the 2007-08 squad went 6-2.

Getting Defensive...Mount St. Mary's has been solid on the defensive end of the floor this season.
* The Mount is third in the Northeast Conference in both field goal percentage defense (.382) and three-point defense (.287).
* The Mount has held five of its six opponents under 40.6 percent shooting this season. Four of the six have been held under 40 percent.

Atupem Climbs Career Scoring List...Senior forward Shawn Atupem is has moved into 51st place on the Mount's all-time scoring list.
* Atupem has 855 points in 100 career games at Mount St. Mary's.
* He leads the Mount in scoring at 13.3 points per game this season, having scored 13 or more points in five of the Mount's six games.

Barber Sets Up Shop in the Post...Sophomore Raven Barber posted his first collegiate double-double with 16 points and 10 boards in the Mount's 70-61 win against Florida A&M.
* The 6-8 forward is averaging 14.0 points and 8.3 rebounds over the past three games. Barber is 15-of-22 (.682) from the field and 12-of-17 (.706) at the line during that stretch.
* Barber is currently second in the Northeast Conference in field goal percentage (.588). He was 6-for-6 from the field against Niagara with five of those field goals coming on dunks. Eight of Barber's 20 field goals this season have been dunks.

Balanced Attack...The Mountaineers have had a balanced offense with five players averaging double figures over the past three games.
* Raven Barber tops the squad with 14.0 points per game over the past three contests. Lamar Trice (12.0), Shawn Atupem (11.3), David Golladay (11.0) and Julian Norfleet (10.3) round out the group.
* The Mount is averaging 67.0 points while shooting 44.6 percent from the field over that stretch.

Trice Fills Stat Sheet...Junior guard Lamar Trice posted career highs of 14 points, eight rebounds and six assists in the Mount's 70-61 win over Florida A&M.
* Trice is averaging 10.7 points, 5.7 rebounds and 3.5 assists per game for the Mount this season.
* The 5-11 guard has pulled down five or more rebounds in five of the first six games while he has scored in double figures in four of the past five.

Freshmen in the Lineup...The Mount started a trio of freshmen (Josh Castellanos, David Golladay, Julian Norfleet) against Florida A&M and Navy.
* It was the first time since Nov. 30, 2005, that the Mount had a trio of freshmen in the starting five. That game, Joey Butler, Sam Atupem and Markus Mitchell started against La Salle.
* Golladay and Norfleet started the first four games for the Mount this season. It was the first time the Mount has had a pair of freshmen in the starting lineup since Jeremy Goode and Kelly Beidler started at Maryland on Dec. 28, 2006.

Third Coach in 57 Years...Robert Burke became the third men's basketball coach in 57 years at the Mount when his hiring was announced on May 10.
* Burke comes to the Mount with 22 years of Division I coaching experience, including helping 10 of his last 12 teams reach the postseason and six NCAA Tournament appearances, including the 2007 Final Four with Georgetown. He has coached 39 players who earned all-conference honors. In addition, he was named one of the top-10 assistant coaches in country according to a peer survey conducted by Fox Sports in 2008.
* He was an assistant coach under Jeff Jones at American last year. The previous nine seasons, he worked with John Thompson III at Georgetown (five years) and Princeton (four years). Burke was an assistant for Paul Hewitt at Siena (three seasons) while also serving as an assistant at Loyola Marymount (three seasons) and Maryland-Baltimore County (six seasons).
* Legendary Mount St. Mary's coach Jim Phelan was at the helm of the program for 49 years (1954-2003), posting 830 career wins. The Mount won the NCAA College Division National Championship in 1962 under Phelan while advancing to five NCAA Division II Final Fours. Phelan guided the Mount to the 1995 and 1999 NCAA Division I Tournaments.
* Milan Brown coached the Mount the past seven seasons, leading the team to the 2008 NCAA Tournament.

Global Sports Main Event...The Mount finished in third place in the Global Sports Main Event, a five-team round robin in-season tournament.
* Cincinnati won the event with a perfect 4-0 mark, followed by Dayton (3-1), the Mount (2-2), Florida A&M (1-3) and Savannah State (0-4).
* The Mount has not participated in an in-season tournament since the 2005 San Juan Shootout. The Mountaineers lost to Akron (74-61) and Chattanooga (85-74, ot) before downing Liberty (63-59) at the event.

Brown and Krajina Out of the Lineup...Senior Pierre Brown and sophomore Kristijan Krajina are out indefinitely with injuries. Brown, who averaged 2.3 points and 1.2 rebounds in 31 games last year, is out with a foot injury. Krajina, a 6-9 forward who averaged 1.6 points and 1.1 rebounds in 20 games played last season, is out with an ankle injury.

Mount Signs Taylor Danaher to NLI... Mount St. Mary's has signed Taylor Danaher (Fredericksburg, Va./Fredericksburg Christian School) to a National Letter of Intent to enroll at the Mount next fall.
* Danaher, a 6-10, 200-pound center with a 7-2 wingspan, averaged 24 points, 14 rebounds and six blocks per game as a junior while playing in the Central Virginia Homeschool Athletic Association.
* He was named First Team All-Tournament at the Homeschool Sports Network Championships last March. Danaher played AAU with the Hoop Booth organization.

BCS Flavor...The Mount will be playing four teams from BCS conferences this season, the most in school history.
* Mount St. Mary's has road games against Cincinnati (Big East), Penn State (Big 10), Northwestern (Big 10) and Virginia Tech (ACC).
* The Mount has played three BCS schools in the same season on 10 occasions, including each of the past four years.

Cajou Takes Leave of Absence... Senior guard Jean Cajou has withdrawn from school and taken a leave of absence for the fall 2010 semester.
* "As Jean's coaches, teammates and friends we miss him very much," said head coach Robert Burke. "We are extremely hopeful he will return to school and the court for the second semester."
* Cajou, named to the CollegeInsider.com Mid-Major All-Defensive team last season, averaged 9.8 points, 4.0 rebounds and 1.7 assists in 2009-10.
* The 6-3 guard has started every game over the past two seasons, averaging 9.8 points in 98 career games for the Mountaineers.
* The 2008 Northeast Conference Tournament Most Valuable Player has 963 career points with 323 rebounds, 169 assists and 115 three-pointers made at the Mount.

Non-Conference Numbers...Since joining NCAA Division I, the Mountaineers have struggled in non-conference play. The Mountaineers are 62-145 (.300) in non-conference games since the move to Division I in 1988-89.
* Of those 207 non-conference games, 122 have been on the road, 65 at home and 20 at a neutral site.
* The Mount is 20-102 on the road, 35-30 at home and 7-13 at a neutral site in non-conference action since 1988-89.
* The Mount has had just one winning season in non-conference play at the Division I level. The 2002-03 team went 5-4 in non-conference action before finishing the season with a 11-16 record.

Strong Debut...Freshman guard Julian Norfleet tallied 15 points in his collegiate debut at Dayton
* The 15 points were the most by a Mount player in their collegiate debut since 2002. Landy Thompson, who is eighth all-time at the Mount with 1,733 career points, had 28 points in his first collegiate game at North Carolina State on Nov. 22, 2002.
* The only other double-digit performance by a freshman in their first game at the Mount since 2002 was from Sam Atupem, who had 13 points at Virginia Tech on Nov. 18, 2005. Atupem is the older brother of current Mountaineer Shawn Atupem.
* Norfleet had 16 points in his Mount debut, the most by a Mount player in their first home game since Jeremy Goode had 18 in a double-overtime win against James Madison in the 2006 home opener.

Norfleet Named NEC Co-Rookie of the Week...Freshman Julian Norfleet was named the Northeast Conference Co-Rookie of the Week on Monday.
* The freshman averaged 11.5 points per game in a win over Savannah State and a loss to Cincinnati.
* In a 69-59 loss at Cincinnati, Norfleet drilled a three-pointer with 59 seconds left to pull the Mount within 62-58. He finished the game with seven points, six rebounds and three assists.
* In the Mount's 68-62 overtime win over Savannah State, Norfleet's clutch shooting down the stretch helped the Mount rally from a seven-point deficit. Trailing 41-34 with eight minutes left, Norfleet hit a pair of three-pointers in a 12-0 run that helped the Mount regain the lead.
* After Savannah State rallied to send the game into overtime, Norfleet connected for a three-pointer 21 seconds into the extra session to give the Mountaineers the lead for good. He finished the game with a season-high 16 points, including a 5-for-10 mark from beyond the arc.
* Norfleet is the first Mountaineer to earn NEC Rookie of the Week honors since Shawn Atupem won the award on Feb. 18, 2008.

International Appeal...Sophomore Kristijan Krajina is the Mount's first international player since Pat Atangana (Cameroon, 2000-04).
* The Mount has had three other European players in the team's history. Robert Balgac (1996-00, New Belgrade, Serbia), Gerben Van Dorpe (Erembodegem, Belgium, 1994-98) and Matt Meakin (Awsworth, England) are the others.
* Other international players to don the Mount uniform include Rodolpho Ruiz (Tampico, Mexico, 1920-24), Roberto Ruiz (Tampico, Mexico, 1926-27) and Paul Miller (Havana, Cuba, 1920-21).

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