Mobley’s search for confidence, Providence’s search for answers
- By Kevin Farrahar
You remember Brandon Mobley. If not, here’s a refresher.
A year ago in the first round of the Big East Tournament Providence scored the first nine points of the game, stunning a veteran Seton Hall team that saw its NCAA Tournament hopes slipping away after a 28 point season-ending loss to DePaul followed by a woeful start in New York City versus the Friars.
The Pirates, led by seniors Jordan Theodore and Herb Pope, looked rattled in Madison Square Garden until a freshman averaging just five points a game came off the bench and sparked a 21-3 rally that turned the tide. Providence never recovered and were run off of the floor, 79-47.
Mobley, a 6’9 freshman who’d done little during his freshman year, scored seven points during the run and finished the night with a career-high 16 points and eight rebounds, making six of seven shots and both three pointers he attempted. Providence had to have been blindsided, as the Hall had four terrific offensive options in Theodore, Pope, sophomore Fuquan Edwin (who’d torched PC at the Dunk in January) and three point gunner Aaron Cosby.
The late season splurge salvaged what was nearly a lost season for Mobley, who had a few moments as a freshman, but didn’t look like the same player who had been named to the National Prep School Invitational All Tournament team along with the likes of Michael Carter-Williams, Nerlens Noel, Kaleb Tarczewski, Mo Harkless and JaKarr Sampson a year prior.
The range he showed in scoring 25 against Harkless and South Kent wasn’t there, and the aggression displayed in grabbing 13 boards versus Notre Dame Prep came and went. His confidence, in both his game and his surgically repaired shoulder, was on the mend throughout his first college season – for good reason.
The summer prior to enrolling at Seton Hall, Mobley dislocated his shoulder and tore his labrum. While he felt like his shot came back early, his faith in his shoulder holding up took longer, as newjerseynewsroom explained in February:
Every time Brandon Mobley would reach his gangly right arm in a scrum for the ball he’d have flashbacks. His mind would travel back to the shoulder injury that put the start to his college career on hold. He had a perpetual fear that the shoulder would pop out just like it did in the Jersey Shore Basketball League over the summer.
So the first thing Mobley had to do was get over the trepidation of re-injuring the shoulder when he came back to practice in December.
It wasn’t easy.
But after a few weeks of premonitions, Mobley had a chat with Seton Hall’s doctor that put his mind at ease.
“He was like ‘hey, it’s staying in there. It’s not coming out. Even if someone’s pulling on it with all their force it’s not coming out,’” Mobley said during a quiet moment in the locker room after last night’s game. “Once I got used to that and I got my wind back up, got back in shape, I was fine.”
But getting back in basketball shape took some time. The shot came back quickly since Mobley starting shooting six weeks after surgery, which was two months before he was cleared to practice. Although he found his stroke, the 6-foot-9, 210 pounder was winded after three of four trips down the floor.
Like any other freshman, Mobley also had to adjust to the speed of the game. And he had to do so after missing the first nine games of the season.
He returned in December, but after his Big East Tournament outburst Mobley said it was the first time time he felt his confidence level was back to where it should be.
Now a sophomore, Mobley has been a critical piece for a quietly solid Seton Hall bunch. He’s recorded five double doubles already, including 16 and 10 in sparking a road win against DePaul in the Big East opener. He scored 23 at LSU. Most recently, Mobley had 18 points and seven rebounds against Louisville on Wednesday.
He’s a 10 ppg scorer who is taking 2.5 three pointers a game and making them at a 50% clip. At 6’9 he’s a matchup problem on the perimeter, one capable of beating teams from deep and willing to get dirty inside. With Edwin, Cosby and Mobley Seton Hall may shoot their way into a few upsets in 2013.
It’s somewhat ironic timing that Providence heads to Seton Hall Sunday as their star freshman works his way back from shoulder surgery – in search of the confidence that alluded Mobley for much of his freshman season.
“This is not me”
- By Craig Belhumeur
A Thursday morning article written by Mike DiMauro, for Connecticut’s The Day newspaper, has sparked conversation across Friartown over the play of freshman Kris Dunn thus far this season. Coming off of a game in which Dunn saw just nine minutes of the floor, many were left wondering as to why there was such a severe cut in playing time for the New London native. Mike DiMauro found the answer.
“This is not me. My shoulder still isn’t right. It’s set me back a lot. Trying to get back into this is like trying to teach a baby how to play basketball. I’m not dribbling as hard.”
Through six games played, Dunn entered last night’s Syracuse contest averaging just over 27 minutes a game. With his 27 minutes a game, Dunn has struggled to carry over the success he was accustom to on the high school level. DiMauro points out in his article, “There had always been a look about Kris Dunn. In his old life, anyway. The big smile. Wiseguy. Happy. Loving life. And why not? Great family. A million friends. King of the world. Or at least the 06320.”
Unfortunately for Kris Dunn, the Providence basketball fan base has not been exposed to this side of the freshman point guard. In the wake of his commitment to Providence College, followers of PC basketball were zeroed in on his McDonald’s All-American honor and rank of 23 on ESPN’s Top 100. From his signing in early November 2011, up until the announcement of his shoulder injury, Friar fans were salivating over what this season could bring, having brought in a top five recruiting class. After news broke that Dunn would be sidelined for up to six months with a torn labrum, the excitement for Dunn’ debut in a Friar uniform was put on hold.
Flash forward to December 18, 2012, 173 days after Ed Cooley confirmed that Kris Dunn required surgery on his torn labrum. Shortly into the first half, Dunn took his first steps towards the scorer’s table to make his college basketball debut against Colgate University. In his first appearance on the Division I scene, he ended the night with a stat line of 7 points, 13 assists and 6 rebounds.
Referencing the anticipation of Dunn’s debut for PC fans, this stat line brought everyone right back to their thoughts from early November – a McDonald’s All-American was wearing a Providence College jersey. Finally, PC was making strides to return to the glory days where winning was routine in Providence.
Since that Tuesday December night, a lot has changed. Cooley has seen his team fall from 8-2 to 8-7 with losses coming at the hands of Boston College, Brown and DePaul. Dunn has averaged just 5 points, 2 assists and 3 rebounds per game, a stat line very difficult for some in the PC fan base to swallow.
What must be reiterated is that Kris Dunn, under all of the accolades and awards that carried him to Providence College, is a freshman college student. As painful as it is to muster, it is important to set aside the excitement, anticipation and expectations that most had for Kris Dunn.
Dunn was unable to dribble a basketball for several months. Once able to return to practice, he was held out of drills that presented contact. All of this, on top of the fact that he is in his first year at college, are reasons to cut Dunn some slack.
Kris Dunn will be an impact player for Ed Cooley, it’s just a matter of time.