Tag:Mark Macon
Posted on: February 21, 2012 10:43 pm

Mark Macon never let the losses get him down

Mark Macon's Binghamton group was the last team to win a game this season. (US PRESSWIRE)
By Matt Norlander

Binghamton dodged history Tuesday night, giving Vermont a 57-53 loss, meaning the Bearcats won't go 0-30 this season. There have been wire-to-wire winless ball clubs in college basketball history before, but none have ever played 30 and lost 30.

That will still be the case. The Bearcats delivered what Ken Pomeroy dubbed the upset of the season when they held on at home against the top-ranked team in the America East, the 19-11 Catamounts (now 12-3 and in danger of losing the No. 1 seed in the league tournament to Stony Brook).

Binghamton had lost 27 in a row dating back to last season, when it played its last game in a loss to, yep, UVM. Overall, the Bearcats had dropped 39 of 41 games prior to Tuesday night's morale-boosting victory. Macon's working with a team that has no seniors on it (it's been ravaged a by the fallout of the academic and drug scandal), and because of that he's remained positive all the way.

No, really. After the game, I spoke to Macon on the phone and  tried my best to squeeze out of him what the low point from this season was. He wouldn't budge.  He was relentless in his positivity. 

“There were no low points at all because it was about building and rebuilding and creating winning ways,” he said. “The biggest thing is to know there’s another game and another chance to win. You’ve got to keep your focus as a coach and a coaching staff.”

This was a team that once averaged 20 turnovers per game. Now it's down to 13.1 giveaways per game, a 23 percent rate, which is still in the bottom fifth in all of hoops, but "that's growth," Macon said.

Vermont defeated Binghamton by 20, 73-53, on Jan. 12 in Burlington. The Catamounts were successful inside all night long on that Thursday. Tuesday night that was not the case. Macon said his primary scouting report objective was to fight the post and own it inside before the UVM bigs ever got the ball. They did, and since some shots finally fell for this team -- which, shooting 45 percent from the field qualifies as "finally" -- the Bearcats scraped to get the bagel out of the W column.

Macon had adjusted his starting lineups all season long, too. At one point he went totally young, starting three freshmen, a sophomore and a junior. He's leaned toward an older group as of late, though. Javon Ralling, Taylor Johnston, Jimmy Gray (juniors); Robert Mansell (sophomore); and Ben Dickinson (freshman) started in the Vermont game for Binghamton.

The win allowed Macon, for the first time this season, to say how the preface to tonight's game was the same as it was all year long for he and his coaches.

“I don’t go into games thinking we’re not going to win,” Macon said. “And for me to even think that way would not be who I am. My life is built on positivity. There’s really nothing to be negative about. I can only control what I can control. I don’t even have to discuss being 0-30 because it’s not going to happen."

No, it is not. Once again, college basketball is filled with 345 teams that share two things in common: none are without flaw and all know what it's like to go to sleep as a winner.

Posted on: January 14, 2011 3:37 pm
Edited on: January 14, 2011 4:03 pm

Can scandal-rocked Binghamton earn a tourney bid?

Posted by Eric Angevine

You may remember the name Binghamton. The small mid-major in upstate New York was the America East representative to the Big Dance two years ago, where they drew the unenviable assignment of facing Duke in the Greensboro pod. That ended predictably enough, but it was hardly the worst thing that would happen to the program in 2009.

What did happen thereafter was revelation of exactly how Binghamton had become so good so fast, which pointed fingers at lax academic standards for athletes. That was tacked on to a series of criminal complaints against Binghamton players, including theft, drug abuse and a horrific physical assault. There's a Binghamton Scandal wiki page if you have the stomach for it.

So, long story short, the school has had a massive turnover in players and leadership, leaving former Temple star Mark Macon in charge of the program. Macon has struggled to field a competitive team, starting walk-ons and DIII transfers some nights.

It's tough not to feel for the guys who have been left to clean up the mess, so it's nice to see that the Bearcats are, somewhat miraculously, 3-0 in the conference right now. If you said you saw this coming after a 3-10 non-conference record, you'd be the world's worst liar.

The amazing thing about the sudden surge is the absence of any definable star power on the team. In the team's first league roadie, at New Hampshire, it was senior forward Mahmoud Jabbi who led the team with 17 points. After that, it was a home game with Stony Brook, French-born forward Moussa Camara drilled five treys to pace the Bearcats. In yesterday's home win over UMBC, the hot hand belonged to sophomore guard Jimmy Gray, who had a career high of 23 points .

How on earth did this happen? Nobody knows. Jabbi himself can only resort to cliches at this point . "I think we just go out on the court and we play hard,” he told AExtra. "Guys really know their roles well and we have a certain game-plan that we go out there and we follow.”

Will this winning trend continue? The Magic 8 Ball says 'outlook unclear, ask again'. The America East lead is a notoriously slippery thing to hold on to, usually decided on the last week of conference play. Even then, the bid goes to the school that wins the league tourney, and nobody else. Marc Macon's Bearcats have just shown that they can rip off three conference wins in a row. If they do it again in Hartford this March, this team is back in the Dance. The right way, this time.

Photo: AP
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