One more for four: Total team effort punches ticket to title game for Mott

Posted: March 18, 2011 by Jared Field in JUCO

DANVILLE, Illinois — Mott head coach Steve Schmidt lives in the now as all great coaches do. Just minutes after Mott’s 71-61 victory over Triton College in the national semifinals Friday night, Schmidt reminded his team about how much the past means to the present.

Namely, not much.

“People are asking me how many times I’ve been to the final four, or how many times I’ve been to the championship game,” Schmidt told his team. “I don’t know. All I know right now is that this is your first, and that’s what I care about.”

(For the record, Schmidt has coached in the final four seven times and in the national championship game six times. But who’s counting?)

Schmidt said that he and his coaching staff don’t have some magic potion for tournament time, they’ve just always had great players.

“It’s about these players,” he said. “It’s about the kids and it’s always been about the kids.”

His latest opportunity comes by way of a total team effort, as the Bears’ top two scorers, Doug Anderson and Mike Brigham, struggled with foul trouble throughout. The Bears also overcame the loss of Sam Burton, who started but played only eight minutes due to a knee injury he suffered in the quarterfinals.

Into the breach stepped Mott’s sophomore guards Demetrius Miller and Marshawn Norris. Miller scored 11 of his 13 points in the first half and Norris set the gym on fire in the second half, scoring the bulk of his team-high 17 points. TJ Cameron added eight points and eight rebounds for Mott, now 33-2 on the season.

After a quick start by Triton, Mott grabbed the lead on the 3-pointer by Miller in the game’s first three minutes. The Bears never surrendered the lead, played 10 players in the first six minutes, and went into the break up 14. Triton came out firing in the second half, cutting Mott’s lead to eight before Norris took the game over with an array of moves to the basket and two clutch, momentum-grabbing 3-pointers.

Triton never got closer than seven points in the second half.

After the game, Norris reiterated the team’s motto.

“Playing for championships is just what we do,” he said.

Saturday night Mott will play for its fourth championship this season, having already won the MCCAA Eastern Conference, MCCAA state championship and regional championship.

Schmidt said Burton will be monitored Friday night and Saturday and didn’t rule anything out. He commended Burton for his toughness after the game.

“Not a lot of players would be there, supporting the team, and not hanging his head,” he said. “No matter if he plays or not, we wouldn’t be here without Sam Burton.”

If Mott pulls out a win Saturday night, it will be the program’s fourth national title in eight years. The Bears will play Lincoln Community College at 7:30 p.m. Lincoln is the defending national champion.

  1. A. Biggers says:

    Good stuff, Jared. Norris was indeed “on fire.”

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