McCoy, Men's Basketball Ride Momentum into Rollins

McCoy, Men's Basketball Ride Momentum into Rollins
Justin McCoy started the season with a shoot-first mindset. Now he's trying to become a better distributor. Photo by Jason Roberts

MIAMI SHORES, Fla. -- Justin McCoy had a thought before this year.

"Being a senior, I wanted to take on more responsibility as a scorer," he said.

A scorer McCoy has been. He's reached double figures in 21 of the Buccaneers' 24 games, including a stretch of 18 in a row. A few of those games, he needed late-minute buckets to keep his streak intact, but somehow, some way McCoy's name always had double digits in the points column on his stat line.

He scored a career-high 29 against Lynn on Jan. 9 when he shot nine of 16 from the floor, burying five of 10 three-pointers in 25 minutes. His 29 points are the most a Buccaneer has scored in two seasons. Willie Whitfield, who now plays professionally for ASC Mainz in Germany, had 29 in an overtime win over Palm Beach Atlantic on Feb. 23, 2011 in Miami Shores.

Jason Junker owns Barry's school record with 48 points in a 107-72 win over Nova Southeastern on Nov. 19, 2000 at Health & Sports Center.

Buckets have been on McCoy's mind since he arrived at Barry in the Fall of 2011. He's scored in spurts and delivered in clutch moments in his two years wearing the Bucs Red and Black. He hit a gamewinner at Eckerd last year that sent the jubilant Bucs on the four-hour journey back to Miami Shores in high spirits. He hit a three with 0.5 seconds left in regulation against St. Martin's to send the game into overtime at the Lynn Holiday Classic on Dec. 19 in Boca Raton. Then he banked in a three off the glass at the buzzer to win it in OT.

"I just threw it up," McCoy would say moments after the Bucs' wild celebration unfolded at the de Hornle Center.

As the season wore on, the coaching staff asked the 5-foot-10 Columbia, Md., product to alter his game. Penciled in as the starting point guard when the season began, McCoy's game quickly evolved into more of a two-guard, what with his shoot-first mentality. Now, he's being asked to facilitate more, find ways to create and dish off as the Buccaneers shifted gears from a perimeter attack to developing a better inside presence.

"Toward the end of the season, Coach (Orlando Gonzalez) wanted me to start getting more people involved so that's what I've been doing lately," said McCoy, who is second on the team in assists behind Filip Toric. "I'm trying to be more of a distributor and get everybody involved first."

Wednesday, he'll take another crack at it in Winter Park, Fla., where the Buccaneers meet Rollins in the penultimate game of the regular season at 7:30 p.m. The game will be carried on the Tars Network.

McCoy had 21 points in the first meeting against the Tars -- one of five games he's scored over 20 points this year. But he and the rest of the Buccaneers know this game is not about how many he or his teammates can put up. It's about how few they give up to the best shooting team in the league, while finding ways to penetrate the gaps in the Tars' zone defense.

"We've got to be the aggressor on defense," McCoy said. "We've got to speed the game up on offense before they can get into that zone. That zone is really what causes us problems. We've just got to make plays."

The Bucs spent the better part of the last two days preparing for Rollins' zone defense, trying to mimic it in practice. But Xs and Os against what a team thinks the opposition is going to do is one thing. Going out and executing against it is another.

"Coach prepared us well for it," McCoy said. "It's hard to simulate their zone, but for the most part we have a good understanding of what they do."

What they do, and what Barry does the rest of the season depends on teamwork and a commitment at both ends of the floor. At times the past couple seasons, the Buccaneers haven't played complete team basketball. To win in Winter Park, they realize it requires smart decisions, unselfishness and a lock-down mentality on the defensive end.

"I feel we've been playing really good basketball the last four games," McCoy said. "To win up at Rollins would be huge for us to have that momentum going into Senior Night and going into the (SSC) tournament."


LAST TIME OUT: Barry beat Tampa on the road Saturday, 63-54 ... Five players scored in double figures for the Bucs.

SERIES RECORD: Barry is 16-44 all-time against Rollins ... The Bucs lost to the then No. 17 Tars, 72-55, at home in January ... Barry’s last win over Rollins was a 77-64 victory in Winter Park on Jan. 6, 2010.

EYES ON OPPONENT: The Tars are 8-6 at home ... Since beating the Bucs in Miami Shores, the Tars have gone 3-5 ... Kyle McClanahan leads the team in scoring (14.8) and assists (4.6) ... Dave Diakite is averaging 13 ppg and 6.5 reb ... Adam Allen is scoring 10.4 ppg.

TOP TO BOTTOM: Rollins ranks first in the league in field goal shooting at 46.5 percent ... Barry is ninth at 40.1.

SPEED LIMIT SCORING: Barry has held its past two opponents to 58 points or less ... The Bucs have held four foes under 60 points this year.

FOUR FOR FIVE: Barry has had five players score in double figures in a game on four occasions this year, the most recent at Tampa Saturday ... In 12 games, four players have reached double figures.

McCOY’S MOJO: Sr. F Justin McCoy has scored in double figures in 21 games, which leads the team ... He leads the Bucs in scoring (14.4) ... His 12.0 ppg career scoring average ranks 17th in school history.

MAGNE-FIVED: Soph. F Magne Fivelstad has scored in double figures in five straight games ... Fivelstad boosted his scoring average to 10.7 ppg ... He is shooting a team-best 60.6 percent from the field.

TORIC’S BOARD WORK: Sr. F Filip Toric is averaging 5.7 defensive rebounds per game, which is tied for second in the SSC and ranks 6th all-time in school single-season history.

SENIOR DAY SATURDAY: Barry will honor six seniors Saturday in the final regular season home game vs. Nova Southeastern at 5:30 p.m.

SSC TICKETS ON SALE: Fans can purchase tickets to the Sunshine State Conference tournament at Silver Spurs Arena in Kissimmee, Fla., Mar. 6-10 by contacting associate athletics director Jamie Carrig at 305-899-4823 or to purchase tickets.