For better or worse, Saturday Steve Schmidt will turn in his final draft. Mott’s head coach told MRSN radio after Wednesday night’s 67-60 loss to Schoolcraft that Mott’s game versus Delta on Saturday will finally bring to a close a season full of uncertainty. The drafts, to this point, have been rough. Very rough.

“The next time you see this team, you’ll see what our team will be from here on out,” Schmidt said.

This, with little doubt, will go down as the veteran coach’s most physically and emotionally draining season of his distinguished caeer. Fortunately, there’s still time to turn it around.

Mott started the season with only 11 players and, due to issues off the court and in the classroom, have dressed between seven and nine players most nights. That’s about to change.

The Bears will add former Davison (MI) High School standout forward Andrew Miller to the roster this week and may round out the roster with a member of the school’s baseball team. The 6-foot-6 Miller scored double figures in 15 of his 21 games with the Cardinals as a senior.

Schmidt added that he hopes his star point guard, Justice Green, will handle his business in the classroom and return to the team this week. The Bears need him desperately if they are going to circle the wagons.

Against Schoolcraft, Mott played a miserable first half. For long stretches, the Bears simply couldn’t buy a basket and trailed by 13 at the half.

A different team came out of the locker room in the second, as the Bears shot 56 percent as a team and actually cut the Ocelets’ lead to four midway through the half. The Bears failed to get stops on a consistent basis in the game’s final minutes and finally succumbed to a better team.

“That’s a really good team, a tough team to play on the road,” Schmidt said. “But we competed. I’m proud of the way our guys competed, especially in the second half.”

The Ocelets (16-3) currently hold the best record in the MCCAA.

Mott (11-5) was led by Daryl Bigham’s 21 points and four rebounds. Darryl LeVert added 10 points and 10 rebounds.

The Bears will return to action at 3 p.m. on Saturday against a Delta squad fresh off a one-point loss against Oakland.

Things didn’t start as planned on Wednesday night for the no. 17-ranked Bears at home. Mott didn’t score a two-point basket until five minutes into the game against longtime rival Henry Ford Community College. Fortunately, by that point, freshman guard Malik Young had already connected on his first three 3-point attempts.

Young was the lone bright spot in the first half as the Bears trailed early, clawed back to lead by one at the break, and clipped the Hawks’ wings in the second half to win, 73-54.

“It was a little ugly there at first,” Schmidt told MRSN radio after the game. “But wins are pretty.”

The Bears (11-4) didn’t wrestle away the led from the hawks until a 3-pointer by sophomore Darryl Levert with a minute left in the half gave Mott their one-point lead.The second half was a bloodbath for Henry Ford. Mott completely demoralized the undermanned Hawks, who came into the game with only five players. Both teams were shorthanded, due to injuries, illnesses and academic shortcomings. Mott dressed eight players, an upgrade from the team’s seven-man outing on Saturday afternoon at Oakland.”It’s a weird thing that’s going on in college athletics right now,” Schmidt said. “There’s no excuse for us to have only eight players; there’s no excuse for them just to have just five. We all have to do better.”

The Bears completely wore down the Hawks in the second half, extending their lead to 14 on a triple by Tommie Johnson just nine minutes into the half. Six minutes later, the Bears led by 23 after a basket in the lane by freshman Rod Milton.

The win Wednesday night was just what the doctor ordered, as the Bears now have a week to get healthy for the showdown versus Schoolcraft College. The Ocelets currently have the best overall record in the league at 13-3. There’s a great deal of parity in the league this year, so don’t count out the Bears just yet.

“Coming off a tough loss, we needed a win,” Schmidt said. “We’re going to bounce back and start playing Mott basketball.”

Daryl Bigham once again led Mott (11-4) in scoring with 21 points. Milton added 16.

The game versus Schoolcraft will be on the road next Wednesday night.

You can listen to the game live on MRSN.us starting at 7:30 p.m.

Hopes were high as Mott returned to action on Saturday afternoon against rival Oakland with the team’s best forward, Daryl Bigham, back in the lineup. The freshman from Detroit missed the last two games (both wins) after getting suspended for committing a flagrant foul in an overtime loss to Owens last month.

With a full roster, the Bears were primed to make another statement against one of the top teams in the MCCAA. As it turned out, it was another disappointing turn of events as Oakland knocked off Mott, 81-73. The loss is the Bears’ first of the conference season.

The Bears played the game without their top guard, freshman Justice Green and freshman forward Tommie Johnson. Mott’s remaining guards, Malik Young and Austin Daniels, drew two fouls apiece in the half and the third, Ray Ray Lewis, was injured. Even so, Mott trailed by only three at the half after a less-than-stellar 20 minutes for either team.

Lewis managed to return early in the second half after Daniels drew his third foul, but the damage was done. The Bears trailed by 13 and head coach Steve Schmidt simply didn’t have the troops to forge a comeback. Oakland went on a 21-9 run to start the second and led by as many as 16 in the half.

The Bears didn’t thrown in the towel, however; they made a run late in the half. A jumper by Lewis inside of six minutes left in the game cut Oakland’s lead to eight. Mott cut the lead to as few as six before Oakland once again rose to the occasion with timely baskets in the paint and second chance points.

After the game, Mott head coach Steve Schmidt told MRSN radio that he was pleased with the effort of most of his players against a good team in a tough environment.

“We showed a lot of heart with only seven guys available today,” he said. “I thought we played our hearts out. It hurts not having a couple kids, but that’s the situation we put ourselves in … we will battle back.”

Mott had a couple notable players struggle in the game. Young did not score in the game. Freshman forward Darryl LeVert scored seven but failed to score in the second half.

Bigham led all scorers with 32 points and 15 rebounds in his return to the team. Small forward Rod Milton added 20.

The status of Green and Johnson is still up in the air, but obviously Mott needs them back as soon as possible to stay in the hunt for the conference championship.

Mott returns to action at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday night at home versus Henry Ford CC. The rematch with Oakland comes Saturday, February 7 at Ballenger Fieldhouse.

No. 14-ranked Mott scores victory over Wayne County, 73-58

Posted: January 7, 2015 by Jared Field in JUCO, Mott
Mott freshman Justice Green scores two of his game-high 17 points Wednesday night in a win over Wayne County. (Gerry Leslie photo)

Mott freshman Justice Green scores two of his game-high 17 points Wednesday night in a win over Wayne County. (Gerry Leslie photo)

FLINT, Michigan — No Bigham, no big deal.

No. 14-ranked Mott scored a huge 73-58 victory over Wayne County Wednesday night despite losing the services of their best forward, Darryl Bigham, to suspension. Bigham had to sit out after earning a flagrant (2) foul in the overtime loss to Owens on December 29 (he also sat out Mott’s road win over Alpena Monday night). Mott dressed eight players. Wayne County dressed 17.

The teams went back and forth in a first half that produced four ties and 20 (not a typo) lead changes. The Bears led by a single point at the half despite a mere two points out of 6-7 sophomore forward Darryl LeVert. LeVert struggled all game to get position in the post against Wayne’s stronger, more physical frontline.

The stage was set for high drama in the second half, but it never came to fruition. After a brief battle, Mott scored 25 of the game’s next 36 points to extend their lead to double-figures. The Bears led by as many as 17 in the half and cruised to victory.

Freshman point guard Justice Green turned in an excellent all-around performance for Mott with 17 points, six assists and three steals. His did his best John Taylor impression, scoring on some very low-percentage shots in the lane. Rod Milton added 12 points and five rebounds. LeVert and Tommie Johnson added 10 apiece.

Ashton Curd led Wayne with 15 points. The Wildcats fall to 8-5 on the season, but are still considered among the top teams in the MCCAA Eastern Conference.

Mott improves to 10-3 on the season ahead of Saturday’s showdown on the road against Oakland.

Under the circumstances, this was a huge win for the Bears. Without Bigham, this was a textbook trap game for the Bears. Kudos to head coach Steve Schmidt and his staff for having this team ready to play. It’s still early, but this team truly controls its own destiny in the MCCAA Eastern Conference. A win on Saturday would go a long way toward getting this program back in the championship conversation.

Mott freshman Justice Green scored 13 points Tuesday night at home against Owens.

Mott freshman Justice Green scored 13 points Tuesday night at home against Owens.

FLINT, Michigan — The basketball fans leaving Ballenger Fieldhouse Tuesday night looking stoic, if not stunned, have been around awhile. To those folks who have followed Mott during its rise to prominence and subsequent reign as one of the nation’s top JUCO programs, home losses are exceptionally rare.

No. 9-ranked Mott suffered its first home loss in nearly three years, 94-87, at the hands of Owens (Ohio). The Express swept the season series with Mott, winning both in extra time.

Mott led by eight points at the half and by as many as 12 in the second half before the Express ran off 13 of the game’s next 17 points. In the end, the Bears could not overcome the offensive onslaught of Owens’ 5-7 sophomore guard Shaakir Lindsey, who scored 21 of his game-high 26 points in the second half.

After a 3-pointer by Lindsey with just less than two minutes to go in half, Mott’s Daryl Bigham swished two free throws to tie the game at 83. The Bears looked to be in prime position to win the game after Owens’ forward Austin Somerfield missed a bunny in the paint. On the ensuing possession, the Bears turned it over, got it right back, and promptly gave it away once again.

After another miss by Owens, the Bears had possession with 14.5 seconds left and called a timeout. Owens knocked the ball out of bounds with five seconds left. Mott guard Austin Daniels was then smothered by a double team and forced to call a timeout with 1.8 seconds left. Bigham caught the inbounds pass from Daniels, took two dribbles, and had his shot partially blocked.

The overtime period was a comedy of errors for the Bears on the defensive end. Lindsey could not be stopped in the lane or on the perimeter. The icing on the cake was the flagrant foul issued to Bigham for throwing an Owens player to the floor with less than 30 seconds left in the frame. Bigham was escorted to the locker room and the fans headed for the exit.

Owens, coached by former University of Toledo and Mott assistant Dave Clarke, put six players in double figures led by Lindsey.

Bigham led Mott with 25 points and eight rebounds. Freshman Malik Young had 15 and Levert and Justice Green added 13 apiece.

The Bears (8-3) will likely bounce back on the road at Alpena on Saturday before two games against Wayne and Oakland. If tonight’s effort is any indication, the Bears are fully capable of losing both.

Game Notes

• For the first time since I’ve covered this program, it’s officially (at least in my mind), the dreaded “rebuilding year” for the Bears. Amazingly, I’ve given up the ghost on Mott’s championship aspirations before New Year’s Day. This team just doesn’t have it. They have a precious little in common with Mott’s championship teams of the past. The Bears have nine players left on the roster and only one guy who plays hard all the time (if you go to the games you know who he is).

• Among a litany of problems for this team, one stands out: Mott doesn’t have a single guard who can defend, who cares to defend, or both. Mott’s championship teams have always had at least one guard (sometimes more) who took pride in wearing the “stopper” moniker. In the past, it would have been unthinkable for a 5-7 guard to shred the Bears in any game — least of all a meaningful one at home. This was a problem last season and it’s getting worse.

• It’s not all on the guards, though. On the frontline, Mott has more matadors than bulls. The Express shot 67 percent from the field in the first half. That’s great for them, but truly an embarrassing stat for Mott. It wasn’t just one of those hot-shooting nights for Owens, either. Mott was gifting them high-percentage shots in close, not closing out on shooters and fouling in the paint like they were playing flag football.

• With little doubt, this is going to be the most arduous season for Mott head coach Steve Schmidt. He has seen so many highs in his career and very few lows. This season, barring a circling of the wagons that would impress the Buffalo Bills, is going to be one of those low points. He’s the man for the job, but it might be asking too much even for a hall of famer.

• On a positive note, Bigham was a beast for long stretches of this game on the offensive end. He scored the team’s first eight points in the second half. He’s long-armed, athletic and not afraid of contact around the basket. He had a nasty tip-dunk in the first half. He’s not consistent, though, so I guess I don’t get to end on a positive note after all.

Last month I wrote that, if Mott made it through its brutal December schedule with a record of 4-2, it would be a job well done. After Wednesday’s night 62-55 road win over Kalamazoo Valley, the Bears are just a home victory over Owens away from meeting the mark.

The Bears (8-2) led KVCC (5-8) by two at the half and held on for the win. Don’t let KVCC’s record fool you. This team’s schedule was front-loaded with high-end competition against big programs. KVCC has scored wins over Wayne County and St. Clair this season. This team has talent and always presents a challenge at their place.

The Bears were led by freshman Justice Green, who scored 23 points with a season-high eight steals.

Mott played the game without the services of Darryl Bigham, Amariontez Ivory-Thomas and Joseph Stamps. Head coach Steve Schmidt is still trying to separate the men from the boys on this squad, so fans will probably continue to see movement with the roster from game to game.

Mott will look for revenge on Dec. 30 at home versus Owens. The Bears lost to the Express on the road earlier this month in double overtime.

Mott freshman Rod Milton

Mott freshman Rod Milton

FLINT, Michigan — Rod Milton picked a great time to turn in his best performance of the season. The Mott Community College Bears (7-2), still smarting over a tough loss on the road Wednesday night to archrival Lansing, leaned heavily on Milton and pulled out a victory over Lakeland, 82-75.

Milton, a high-flying freshman forward, led Mott with 23 points and 10 rebounds. He was instrumental in leading the Bears to a 17-point lead early in the second half. As it turned out, the Bears needed the extra cushion against the resilient Lakers.

Midway through the second half, Lakeland (5-3) embarked on a 14-2 to bring the game back into striking distance. The Bears’ lead was cut to just five before Milton and freshman Tommie Johnson sparked an 8-2 run to put Mott back up double digits.

The Bears played most of the game without 6-7 sophomore Darryl LeVert, who drew his third foul just 10 minutes into the first half and his fourth with just seven minutes gone by in the second. He finished with just two points.

Mott’s point guard Justice Green hit some crucial free throws down the stretch to keep the Lakers at bay. Green finished with 11 points, three rebounds, six assists and six steals. Three other Bears added 11 points apiece: Johnson, Malik Young and Daryl Bigham.

Mott actually shot its way out of Lakeland’s zone early in the game, and didn’t have many issues breaking their press throughtut the game. The Bears weren’t in lockdown mode defensively, but they made enough plays on that end of the floor to hold on. The last time the Bears played Lakeland was in the semifinals of the national tournament back in 2012. The Bears won that game by nine and went on to finish the season with a 35-1 record and a national championship.

Mott head coach Steve Schmidt only dressed eight players in the game, for the second time this season. Mott was without freshmen Tez Thomas, Joe Stamps and Ray Ray Lewis. The playing status of those players will be updated in the coming days.

Coach Schmidt penned an open letter to fans in Saturday’s game program, thanking them for their support through what has been a very difficult season.

“As you have watched this season progress,” the letter read, “I am sure you have noticed the changes in our roster from game to game. We have all new players this season, and with that expected some growing pains. The one thing I have stressed throughout my career is accountability on and off the court. We want our players to be successful in the classroom, and work toward earning a degree. We are not going to change.”

Schmidt freely admits that this season, even at this early juncture, has been among the most trying of his long career.

Mott still has two games left in its brutal December schedule. The Bears will play a strong Kalamazoo Valley squad on the road Wednesday night before finishing out the calendar year on December 30 versus Owens.

MCCAA Standings

Eastern Conference
School MCCAA Overall GB Home Away Neutral Streak
Schoolcraft 0-0 .000 9-2 .818 5-1 4-0 0-1 Won 2
Mott 0-0 .000 7-2 .778 7-0 0-2 0-0 Won 1
Oakland 0-0 .000 5-2 .714 2-0 1-0 2-2 Won 1
Henry Ford 0-0 .000 5-3 .625 3-0 2-2 0-1 Won 3
Macomb 0-0 .000 6-4 .600 4-1 1-1 1-2 Lost 1
St. Clair County 0-0 .000 6-4 .600 4-2 2-1 0-1 Lost 1
Delta 0-0 .000 6-5 .545 3-3 3-2 0-0 Lost 2
Wayne County 0-0 .000 4-4 .500 1-1 2-2 1-1 Won 1
Alpena 0-0 .000 2-3 .400 0-0 1-1 1-2 Won 1
Western Conference
School MCCAA Overall GB Home Away Neutral Streak
Muskegon 0-0 .000 8-2 .800 3-0 4-2 1-0 Won 4
Grand Rapids 0-0 .000 6-2 .750 4-0 2-2 0-0 Won 1
Lake Michigan 0-0 .000 8-3 .727 3-3 5-0 0-0 Won 1
Glen Oaks 0-0 .000 5-2 .714 5-0 0-2 0-0 Won 1
Ancilla 0-0 .000 7-4 .636 6-1 1-2 0-1 Won 1
Lansing 0-0 .000 5-4 .556 4-1 1-3 0-0 Won 3
Jackson 0-0 .000 5-5 .500 4-1 1-4 0-0 Won 1
Kalamazoo Valley 0-0 .000 5-7 .417 2-3 2-2 1-2 Won 1
Kellogg 0-0 .000 3-6 .333 0-0 1-5 2-1 Won 1

No. 5-ranked Mott soars over Columbus State, 83-76

Posted: December 6, 2014 by Jared Field in High School
Mott freshman Rod Milton soars for a rebound over Columbus States Travon Hester. (Gerry Leslie photo)

Mott freshman Rod Milton soars for a rebound over Columbus States Travon Hester. (Gerry Leslie photo)

After suffering his first loss of the season on Wednesday night in double overtime on the road against Owens, Steve Schmidt’s team got one back against the state of Ohio. Unlike on Wednesday night, Schmidt had most of his roster prepped and ready to go against Columbus State (4-4).

The Bears, minus only starting guard Joseph Stamps, knocked off Columbus State, 83-76.

Mott (6-1) led by five at the half and actually trailed by one at the 13-minute mark of the second half. Things started to look even more dire for the Bears when, less than a minute later, 6-7 forward Darryl LeVert was whistled for his fourth foul. This could have been the turning point for Columbus State but, as it turned out, it was Mott’s time to make a statement.

From that point, the Bears embarked on 9-0 run highlighted by a dunk in transition from freshman Daryl Bigham and some timely scoring from freshman Tez Thomas. The former Flint Beecher standout scored 11 points of his 14 points in three minutes to extend Mott’s lead to 10 with eight minutes left. The Bears led by as many as 16 in the half, and held off a late charge by Columbus State to earn the victory.

Bigham led Mott with 19 points and 10 rebounds. Freshman small forward Tommie Johnson added 17 including three triples.

Columbus State’s Matthew Rhodes led all scorers with 23 points on 10-for-15 from the field.

Mott’s brutal December schedule continues on Wednesday night when they travel to Lansing to take on the Stars at 7:30 p.m.

Game Notes

• This may have been Mott’s best all-around effort on both ends of the floor (I’m purposely forgetting the final three minutes of the game). The Bears were active on the glass, took care of the ball and got after loose balls like I haven’t seen all season.

• Saturday’s performance by Daryl Bigham is one that could be replicated on a regular basis. Bigham is a tremendous athlete with good hands, a solid frame and a desire to play around the rim. If he brings it like that every game, Mott’s frontcourt will be a major upgrade over last season.

• I could probably give Mott fans five or six guesses and not get a right answer to this question: Who do you think played the most minutes for the Bears on Saturday? You (didn’t) guess it. It was walk-on forward Matt Place (Lapeer, MI). Place actually started this game and played all but five minutes. Place sets the bar for effort and, at Mott, that will get you big minutes.

Mott Community College had just ascended into the top five in the latest NJCAA poll this week. The Bears were undefeated heading into the meat of their schedule and starting to get their sea legs.

That all changed on Wednesday night, when Coach Steve Schmidt did not allow three starters to make the trip to no. 12-ranked Owens (Ohio). Rod Milton, Daryl Bigham and Joseph Stamps were all held out of Mott’s 84-79 loss to Owens in double overtime. Mott started the game with eight players, finished with five and fell short.

The trio violated team rules off the court and, ultimately, cost their team a win over a good program.

Schmidt was not happy after the game, expressing disappointment not just in his team’s play Wednesday night but also in their lack of commitment.

“I guess I’m a different coach,” he said. “If you don’t understand what it means to be a part of this program, what a privilege it is, you won’t play here.”

The Bears actually held Owens to under 35 percent shooting from the field for the game, but could not keep the Express off the charity stripe. All told, Owens attempted 44 free throws to Mott’s 14. Even so, there were 11 ties and four lead changes in the game that was tight throughout.

Mott (5-1) was led by forward Darryl LeVert, who scored 17 points with 11 rebounds. Justice Green and Austin Daniels added 16 and 14 points, respectively. As a team, the Bears shot an abysmal 2-for-17 from 3-point range.

Owens (8-2) had four players in double figures led by Darren Groves, who scored 21 points with 15 rebounds.

It doesn’t get any easier for Mott, as the Bears welcome Columbus State (Ohio) into the Steve Schmidt Gymnasium at 3 p.m. on Saturday. Columbus State (4-2) has averaged 86 points per game this season.

Mott freshman Rod Milton scored two of his 15 points on Friday night in a win over Sinclair. (Mike Tews photo)

Mott freshman Rod Milton scored two of his 15 points on Friday night in a win over Sinclair. (Mike Tews photo)

It was a Black Friday Buccaneer Bonanza in Flint Friday night. Two former Flint Beecher Bucs, Tez Thomas and Tommie Johnson, led the Mott Community College Bears to an 80-68 win over Sinclair (Ohio).  The pair connected on five triples in the game, scoring 13 and 10 points, respectively.

Mott led by as many as 19 midway through the second half on a Thomas basket in the lane. From there, the Bears weathered a couple flurries from Sinclair late, and cruised to victory in front of another large home crowd.

As has become a habit early in the season, Friday night was a total team effort for Mott. All but one player on Mott’s roster scored in the game. Freshman forward Rod Milton led the team with 15 points and eight rebounds. Sophomore Darryl LeVert added 14 points and 10 rebounds.

Mott head coach Steve Schmidt made wholesale changes throughout the game, subbing out five for five to start both halves. Nine players played 15 or more minutes for the Bears.

The Bears led by a mere seven points at the half, a deficit that Sinclair head coach Jeff Price considered a moral victory against a program that has had their number for years. Sinclair, now 4-4,

makes up for what it lacks in talent with resilience. Even so, Sinclair failed to box out on too many Mott misses leading to second chance points for the Bears. Mott won the rebounding battle 38-26, with Milton and LeVert leading the way.

Manny Powell, Jr. led all scorers with 19 points.

One major bright spot for Mott was the play of reserve guard Austin Daniels. The freshman logged 18 minutes and dished out seven assists with only one turnover. If he continues to defend and take care of the ball, he’ll play a lot of minutes on this team. The Bears don’t need him to score.

The Bears are now 5-0 on the season and prepping for a brutal schedule in December. The Bears will square off against Owens twice, Lansing and Kalamazoo Valley on the road, and two home games versus Columbus State and Lakeland. If the Bears can make it through this stretch no worse than 4-2, it will be a great month heading into conference play.

Next up is Owens on Wednesday night in Toledo. The Express, coached by former Mott assistant Dave Clarke, are 7-2 on the season.

Mott is currently ranked no. 16, but should move up several spots when the next poll is released by the NJCAA.