Peach State Sports Blog

Mercer looks to bounce back against Kennesaw State

Bob Hoffman knows it’s going to take some time for this year’s Mercer basketball team to come together.

That’s just natural after losing all five starters -- and seven seniors total -- off last year’s team.

So he’s not going to overreact to one loss.

That’s why Hoffman is remaining patient after the Bears suffered their first loss of the season, 63-47 on Sunday at Seton Hall. Mercer (1-1) returns home to Hawkins Arena on Wednesday to host Kennesaw State.

“I told the guys (Monday), ‘We had some games on the road last year when we didn’t get it done. It wasn’t a perfect season last year. None are,’ ” Hoffman said. “Hopefully, we will learn from this and grow and be ready to play Wednesday night.”

The Bears shot the ball well and scored 88 points in a 40-point win over Piedmont on Friday in their season opener. But Mercer struggled with its shooting touch Sunday, hitting 20-of-54 from the floor, including 3-of-15 on 3-pointers.

“We really settled almost the whole game, and we had talked so much about making second attacks, which is what we call it, trying to get two paint touches on one trip because that changes the dynamics of what they’re running,” Hoffman said. “They kept changing defenses, going match-up to man, and we didn’t really adjust. Our shooting will be fine. We took some guarded shots we shouldn’t have, and there were some open shots we just didn’t make.”

Still, the Bears stayed in the game and trailed 47-42 with about nine minutes left. Then came an eight-minute scoring drought.

Mercer also had a five-minute drought in the first half.

“If you’re on the road or if you’re at home, against good teams, you can’t have stretches like that without the ball going in,” Hoffman said. “We felt like we had opportunities and just let them get away.”

The Bears’ home opener was played in front of a packed house with banners raised before the game to honor last year’s A-Sun co-regular-season and tournament titles and a third for last year’s trip to the NCAA tournament.

“It was a blast,” Hoffman said. “It was a credit to everybody who worked hard for us to get those crowds. It just shows and proves to the guys we’re recruiting, to the guys we have now, that what they have accomplished does matter. I hope it continues.

“They wanted to honor that team’s accomplishments and see what we have this year, and I think they went away thinking, ‘These guys have a chance.’ ”