The 2018-2019 season has been a rollercoaster of a ride for Mercer men’s basketball. The team has shown signs of greatness, but also signs of a team that lacks one key ingredient -- consistency.
The Bears entered this past weekend’s road trip seeking momentum coming off a heartbreaking overtime loss to ETSU at home.
Did the Bears get the momentum they were looking for? Maybe. But not in the ways one would have thought they would going into the weekend.
Mercer split the road games, losing 73-70 on the road to Chattanooga for the first time in nearly three years. However, the Bears got back on track by scratching out a 93-87 victory over rival Samford.
Only time will tell if this is the victory that the Bears needed to turn their season around. However, if this team has made one thing clear, they are extremely unpredictable.
1 → Can Mercer right the ship?
A 2-6 conference record was almost definitely not the start that Mercer head coach Bob Hoffman had in mind for the 2018-2019 season. Mercer did lose quite a bit of production from last year’s team. However, they were predicted to finish in the top five in the SoCon this year. They currently sit in second-to-last place, in front of only VMI, who they face later this month at Hawkins Arena.
2 → Cummings is good, but he can’t do it all
The later of the two games marked the fifth consecutive game where Cummings earned my Player of the Game recognition, and simultaneously his fifth game in a row where he led the Bears in scoring. The junior guard has been tearing it up on the basketball court and deserves praise for that. However, if this team is going to turn its season around, the rest of the team needs to help him out. That could start with some of the younger guys.
3 → Young guys must step up
Speaking of young guys -- they must step up, plain and simple. Mercer is struggling to find ways to close games, and that could partly be tied to the Bears starters’ being tired late in games. With better play from their young guys, Mercer could rest their starters more throughout the game, enabling them to finish strong down the stretch. If Mercer can get stronger play from their young guys, the rest of the SoCon beware.
Player of the Weekend: Ross Cummings (#20)
- Cummings combined for 54 points, good for 27 points per game
- The Mamba shot 9-of-15 from three, good enough for a 60-percent clip
- The junior guard has now led his team in scoring for five consecutive games
Head coach Bob Hoffman on finally getting a close win...
"This team persevered over and over again. We kept the lead and they made some big runs at us, but we had that never say die attitude.”
Hoffman talks about his team’s mindset moving forward…
“We may not be in a position to win the regular season conference title, but I'm so happy for these guys. This is why you coach. We kept battling and it's great to see all of that hard work pay off for us here tonight."
Hoffman on how the team will move forward...
“All I know is to keep working hard, believing and work on the things that we’re not doing well. We had every opportunity to win this game on the road and we came up short.”