With its season not set to start until Dec. 13, we delayed the Mount Vernon preview story a week. It ran Sunday in The Journal News and takes a look at the new-look Knights, who, after winning back-to-back state championships, graduated all five starters for the second straight year. The remaining players from those teams hope to ensure the area’s top program simply retools rather than reloads.
Here’s the preview, followed by a look at Mount Vernon’s 2012-13 schedule…
• • • • •
MOUNT VERNON — Josh Doughty has heard the buzz. He’s taken all talk that Mount Vernon might be in for a rebuilding year and let it seep in, storing it as motivation.
Not that he needs it. Doughty and the Knights’ other returning contributors will concede their team lost more than most, but, as reserves on a two-time state champion, they are eager for a greater opportunity.
They also know nothing other than winning.
“We’re not used to losing,” Doughty said. “We’ve won states two times in a row, so we’re trying to get there again. We don’t want it to be a letdown. We want to win everything again.”
To achieve that goal, Mount Vernon will be forced to replace five senior starters, something last year’s team accomplished without a hitch. But this year’s group isn’t blessed with the size and star power of the Class of 2012, which, among other things, included Isaiah Cousins, who has already earned a starting spot at Oklahoma as a freshman.
Coach Bob Cimmino has anointed Doughty the new leader after he served as a backup point guard the last two seasons.
“I like the pressure,” Doughty said. “I worked hard for this moment, so I should be able to lead this team to a lot of wins. They’re going to help me. I think we should be good.”
Of course, that will require far greater production from acrobatic senior Jamal Lewis and rugged 6-foot-4 juniors Brandon Martin and Yhanni Bartley. All played minutes last season with varying degrees of success.
“We have an opportunity to shine now,” Lewis said.
Senior forward Jalen David earned most of his minutes in lopsided wins, but his scoring touch could make a difference after the Knights graduated most of their offense. Doughty believes David can lead the team in scoring.
“I think he realizes he has the green light if he does things on defense,” Cimmino said.
In the preseason, junior guard Devonte Banner quickly secured a role with the returning group with his scoring, defense and toughness. But none of those players stand taller than 6-4, leaving the Knights vulnerable, especially against the non-league giants that populate its schedule.
“We’re small, but we’re strong. We’re tough,” Martin said. “If we play bigger people, we’re going to take advantage of it. We’re going to run.”
And they’ll need to. The Knights open with three games in Edmonton Thursday through Saturday and will follow with dates against Bishop Loughlin, Bishop Kearney and Wadleigh in addition to two games in Erie, Pa., Jan. 19-20. Bishop Kearney, a Rochester-area team that will play Mount Vernon at West Point on Jan. 6, has a front line comprised of 6-10, 6-10 and 6-9 forwards.
Cimmino compared this to his 2009-10 team, one that lost six regular season games (two to New Rochelle) but rallied to win the gold ball anyway.
“Our goal is to get better and I think our schedule is going to allow for that,” Cimmino said. “We’re going to get beat up along the way. If our record is not so good, it doesn’t really matter. Crunch time for us is the playoffs.”
• • • • •
I know people are interested in Mount Vernon’s schedule, so I have posted it below. If you count them up and are wondering, yes, the Knights are actually still looking to book an 18th game.
Mount Vernon, 2012-13 Schedule
Dec. 13-15 — GoAuto REB Invitational Basketball Tournament in Edmonton, Canada (3 games)
Dec. 22 — vs. Bishop Loughlin, at Wadleigh High School, 4:15 p.m.
Jan. 6 — vs. Bishop Kearney, at West Point, 4:15 p.m.
Jan. 9 — at Mamaroneck, 4:15 p.m.
Jan. 11 — HOME vs. Scarsdale, 4:15 p.m.
Jan. 15 — at White Plains, 4:15 p.m.
Jan. 17 — at New Rochelle, 4:15 p.m.
Jan. 19 — vs. Erie McDowdell, at Erie, Pa., 8:30 p.m.
Jan. 20 — vs. Toronto Academy, at Erie, Pa., 8:30 p.m.
Jan. 26 — HOME vs. Benjamin Bannekea, 2 p.m.
Jan. 29 — HOME vs. Mamaroneck, 4:15 p.m.
Jan. 31 — at Scarsdale, 4:15 p.m.
Feb. 1 — HOME vs. Wadleigh, 5 p.m.
Feb. 6 — HOME vs. New Rochelle, 4:15 p.m.
Feb. 8 — HOME vs. White Plains, 4:15 p.m.