|Coppin St. brings 20 losses to NCAA tourney vs. Mount St. Mary's|
|Written by Admin|
|Monday, 17 March 2008 14:56|
At least Coppin State is unique.
The Eagles will be the first team to start the NCAA tournament with 20 losses, when they take on Mount St. Mary's in the opening-round game Tuesday night.
``We're definitely not looking at their record to see how good they are,'' Mount St. Mary's coach Milan Brown said Monday. ``They're going to be a tough test.''
At one point this season, Coppin State lost 17 of 18 games and was 4-19. But the Eagles finished with a rush, winning 12 of their final 13 games, including the Mid-Eastern Conference tournament championship, and earning an automatic NCAA bid.
Coppin State, from Baltimore, won the conference championship by beating Morgan State 62-60. Mount St. Mary's (18-14), from Emmitsburg, Md., won the Northeast Conference tournament, beating Sacred Heart 68-55.
The Mountaineers are making their third NCAA tournament appearance and first since 1999. Coppin State is making its fourth appearance and first since 1997.
Mount St. Mary's is 3-0 against Coppin State, and the two teams haven't met since 1984. The winner of Tuesday's game will face top-seed and No. 1-ranked North Carolina in the East regional in Raleigh, N.C.
Brown is especially worried about Coppin State's senior point guard Tywain McKee, who is averaging 16.6 points a game and tied a season-high 33, including a floater in the lane with two seconds remaining, to lift the Eagles over Morgan State.
``That's always scary in a one-game situation that a player can have a night where he can just beat you by himself,'' Brown said. ``We're going to try to make sure we give him a few different looks, hopefully, and just make him take a lot of potentially tough shots.''
Coppin State coach Ron ``Fang'' Mitchell said the Eagles were having team chemistry problems earlier in the season, but turned things around when the seniors took a greater leadership role and the younger players got game experience.
``We had to mix that together, and it took some time,'' he said.
Mitchell said his team will have to worry about the perimeter play of Mount St. Mary's guards Jeremy Goode and Chris Vann. Goode averages 14.3 points a game and 5.5 assists and Vann averages 14.4 points.
Brown said his team is playing its best basketball of the season, reaping the benefits of several sophomores beginning to click at the same time. He said the bench is deep, with eight or nine players getting significant playing time in an effort to wear out opponents.
``We're overwhelmed that we're here. We have a chance to do big things,'' Vann said. ``We're enjoying every bit of it.''
Brown said he had a sense over the weekend that his team might end up playing Coppin State, so on Sunday his team practiced as if they would play the Eagles.
``I guess maybe it looked like I was a genius,'' he said.