FLINT, Michigan — What a difference a year makes. Just nine months removed from his worst season as a head coach in two decades, Mott head coach Steve Schmidt got his swagger back. Mott (3-0) had its first big test of the season on Wednesday night against Muskegon, one of the top teams in the MCCAA.
The Bears passed with flying colors, cruising past the Jayhawks, 93-79.
“I thought that was a statement game for our program,” said the hall of fame coach. “They (Muskegon) may well be the best team in the western conference.”
Lansing, Mott’s opponent next week, may have something to say about that. But, suffice it to say, Muskegon is really athletic and loaded with experience.
The Bears led early thanks to the strong play of 6-3 sophomore guard Lorenzo Collier, who came off the bench and had himself a game. He scored 17 points including two straight pull-ups to put Mott up six early in the first half. (Collier actually played for the Bears two seasons ago before taking last year off. He is one of only three sophomores on Mott’s roster.)
The Jayhawks, led by sophomores Aaron Sydnor and Will Robertson, hung around for the entire half, scoring at the buzzer cut Mott’s lead to two, 38-36.
To put it mildly, the second half featured wild swings of momentum for both teams. Mott led by 10 with 11 minutes left in the game. Two and a half minutes later, the Bears’ lead was down to one. Two and a half minutes after that, Mott led by 16. That’s not a misprint.
The Bears’s final run was led by 6-3 freshman guard Diandre Wilson, who stuffed the stat sheet with 23 points, five assists, five boards and six steals. He scored six points in a span of less than 30 seconds to put the game away with five minutes left. The exclamation point on the win came late on a ridiculous alley-oop to sophomore Jalen Adams, a D-1 transfer from St. Bonaventure. Adams scored 15 points with four rebounds and three assists.
That was one of many dunks on the night from a team that, at least on the surface, looks to be Mott’s most athletic bunch since the days of Doug Anderson and Torian Oglesby (the “fly boys”). The best dunk of the night came early, a rather shocking slam in transition from freshman Aaryon Davis, generously listed at 5-10.
Former Flint Beecher all-stater Cedric Moten started for the Bears, scored 13 points and showed the ability to stop the ball. He may well be the “glue guy” that Schmidt has always featured on his championship teams. He’s not as athletic as former Bear TJ Cameron (Kalamazoo Central), but he brings a lot of the same qualities to the program.
If the first three games of the season are any indication, this is a team that will win games by out-running and out-jumping their opponents. It’s going to be a little different than Mott’s great teams of the past; but, if this group stays together, they will win a lot of games.
The Bears have a quick turnaround this week, as they welcome Triton College (Illinois) to Ballenger Fieldhouse at 7:30 p.m. on Friday. Triton is also 3-0 including a recent win over Cincinnati State. Listen to the game live online at MRSN.us.