Anderson Shines As Bobcats Score Pivotal Victory
By Zach Smart
HAMDEN — Prior to the 2007-2008 campaign, then newly-appointed head coach Tom Moore spoke privately with then-incoming senior DeMario Anderson. The mentor-and-pupil session covered everything from Anderson’s new leadership role to team aspirations.
Even before the meeting took place, however, Anderson saw the writing on the wall.
The onus is on him to lead this year. The Bobcats will only go as far as Anderson—an ultra-athletic 6-foot-4 swingman—takes them.
Since that meeting, “DA” hasn’t been the same player that emerged as one of the league’s top scorers last season.
By leaps and bounds, he’s better.
Playing a more of an all-around and tougher brand of basketball, Anderson has led by example and surfaced as a serious candidate for Northeast Conference Player of the Year in the young season.
These aspects were on display Thursday night, as the Bobcats fended off a defensive-minded Mount St. Mary’s team en route to a 70-59 victory before 968 at the TD Banknorth Sports Center. The Bobcats improve to 3-1 in the NEC with the victory.
With a steady mix of mid-range jumpers, outside shots, and strong takes to the cup, the Oxon Hill, MD product gave his workaday offensive performance. Anderson would finish with 21 points, a thread over his season scoring average, on 9-for-17 shooting.
But it was his defensive energy and creativity with the ball that helped propel the Bobcats to a much-needed conference win.
“He’s a special player,” said Moore. “I know I take him for granted. He’s a superstar. For a superstar, he’s a very unselfish player.”
Anderson inhaled seven rebounds, handed out three assists, and recorded four steals to go with two eye-popping blocks in 35 minutes.
Mount St. Mary’s employed a tight man-to-man defense that threw the Bobcats out of their groove early in a sloppy, turnover-plagued first half. But the Bobcats (7-8 overall) snapped out of the funk, clawing back from a seven-point deficit as the game hit a 26-26 logjam at the break.
In a game that featured nine ties and four lead changes, the Mount never quit but were outplayed in the second half. Chris Vann who came into the conference averaging 16 points and dropped 28 on the Bobcats last year, was
Mount coach Milan Brown said that in practice, his troops focused on clamping down on Anderson and sealing off the perimeter, where the Bobcats can get El Azizia-hot.
“I was more disappointed in how many layups they made,” said Brown, who admits that his team bears more of a defensive identity than they showed tonight. Them beating us off the dribble hurt us tonight. That’s not what we teach, that’s not how we play.”
Anderson scored 10 points in the first ten minutes, as the Bobcats shot an efficient 12-for-24 from the floor in the first half. As play progressed, however, D.A. began to operate offense—knifing through a pair of defenders and finding Louis Brookins (10 points, nine boards) for an open lay-in as the momentum-pendulum swung in the Bobcats’ direction for much of the second half.
During one crucial juncture, Anderson dove for a loose ball and tried to rip it away from 7-foot, 245-pound center Jason Loughry. The Bobcats won the jump ball, and on the ensuing possession Anderson swatted Markus Mitchell, sprinted to the left side and canned a pull-up three-pointer that bumped Quinnipiac ahead, 40-32—causing an irate Brown to call a 30-second timeout.
After hitting his second trey of the game, Anderson swatted Will Holland’s shot attempt in a wild sequence that led to a Bryan Geffen layup that jacked the lead up to 11.
As impressive as Anderson was, he clearly wasn’t alone.
Fifth-year senior Karl Anderson scored 12 points off the bench and James Feldeine added 11. Evann Baker chipped in with 10. Geffen finished with a game-high seven dimes.
Smurf-size point guard Jeremy Goode led Mount St. Mary’s, whose losing streak extends to three games with the loss, with 15 points and six assists.