Archive for December, 2014

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.