Mercer Men's Basketball 2013 NIT Tournament Capsule

Mercer Bears
Atlantic Sun (23-11, 14-4)


Mercer is a name that has rung a bell in recent years.  They seem to be on everyone’s mid-major radar in March.  Whether they make it into the tournament or not, the Bears are constantly in the conversation.  The regular season champions of the Atlantic Sun find themselves in the discussion again.  They did not hit their stride until about mid-season when they won 10 out of 13.  They held off Florida Gulf Coast to score the number one seed in the conference tournament.  They are looking to keep good momentum going into the postseason.

Big Wins: 12/2 at Florida State (61-56), 12/22 at Alabama (66-59), 1/2 FGCU (77-70)
Bad Losses: 1/5 at Kennesaw State (75-83), 1/12 at Jacksonville (47-49), 1/24 at Northern Kentucky (46-63)
Coach: Bob Hoffman

Why They Can Surprise:
Mercer is stronger on defense than they are on offense.  They only allowed 58.2 points per game.  That puts them among the top 20 teams in the country.  Outside the arc was no easier for opponents.  They only shot 39.3 percent from the floor.  Granted, Mercer played in a conference without any major contenders.  Still, in a weak conference they were able put teams down with a strong defense.  Offensively, they were second in the conference in shooting three-pointers.  At just under 35 percent, they did not light the world on fire but they were able to pour points on in the Atlantic Sun.  They were very good at ball control as well.  They are a small team that is guard heavy and the roster is full of ball handlers.  The Bears had a solid assist to turnover ratio, which helped them get the most out of each possession.  They really killed it on the free-throw line as well as they shot 75 percent from the charity stripe.  That was better than all but 20 teams in the country.

Why They Can Disappoint:
The Bears are not particularly big and their interior players can get exposed.  They have three players on the roster that are 6’8” or taller.  Naturally all three of them get minutes, but they do not produce the way they will need to against strong teams.  All three average under 10 points per game.  Dan Coursey, a starter, averages just over seven points.  The other two interior guys only average eight points per game between the two of them.  Mercer is primarily an outside shooting team, and they can easily get beat up inside.  They certainly get beat up on the boards, as one might expect.  They only grab about 32 rebounds per game and are often at a disadvantage in that category.  Even though they are an outside shooting team, they do not score very many points.  It has been Mercer’s defense that has kept them in games.  They only accumulate about 64 points per game which is near the bottom of the Atlantic Sun.  The Bears are going to need shots to fall at a high rate come tournament time.

Probable Starters:
Langston Hall, Junior, Guard, 11.0 ppg, 4.9 apg
Travis Smith, Senior, Guard, 13.5 ppg, 1.9 apg
Bud Thomas, Junior, Forward, 7.8 ppg, 4.6 rpg, 2.7 apg
Daniel Coursey, Junior, Forward, 7.1 ppg, 3.8 rpg
Jakob Gallon, Junior, Forward, 8.5 ppg, 5.1 rpg

Key Roleplayers:
Monty Brown, Junior, Center, 4.3 ppg, 2.6 rpg
T.J. Hallice, Sophomore, Forward, 3.2 ppg, 2.2 rpg

By the Numbers:
Scoring Offense: 65.4 (227th in nation, 7th in conference)
Scoring Defense: 58.2 (19, 1)
Field-Goal Percentage: 43.3 (183, 5)
Field-Goal Defense: 39.3 (35, 1)
Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 7.3 (64, 3)  
Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 35.3 (95, 1)
Free-Throw Percentage: 75.7 (12, 1)
Rebound Margin: 0.5 (165, 6)
Assists Per Game: 14.1 (91, 3)
Turnovers Per Game: 12.8 (126, 1)

Last Five Postseason Appearances:
2012    CIT    First Round win over Tennessee State
2012    CIT    Second Round win over Georgia State
2012    CIT    Quarterfinal win over Old Dominion
2012    CIT    Semifinal win over Fairfield
2012    CIT    Final win over Utah State

*all team stats through 3/10


See All Men’s Basketball Postseason Capsules