MCCC Men’s Basketball Resets for the Second Half of the Season


West Windsor, N.J. – For the Mercer County Community College (MCCC) men’s basketball team, sometimes a break from the court is the best medicine.

That break came in the form of the team’s annual trip to Washington D.C. In its 12th year, the Vikings’ weekend in the nation’s capital served a dual purpose. The team realigned its basketball goals for the second half of the season while players got a respite from National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) competition.

“We were banged up heading into the holidays,” said Head Coach Howard Levy. “But since then I think we’ve had some of our best practices.”

This year, the Vikings visited the National Museum of African American History and Culture. After perusing the hall’s exhibits, the team practiced at the Washington Wizard’s facility in southeast D.C.

The team also scheduled a game against Frederick Community College.

“We had a great trip this year,” Levy said. “The weekend is an opportunity for the guys to see that their coach is human too. We spent about two hours in the museum and I could really tell everyone took a lot away from it.”

Also scheduled were team dinners with Levy’s colleagues.

“Each year I make a point of introducing the players to my friends who live in the area,” Levy noted. “Everything we do is about more than basketball. In the past, players have made real connections that have helped them figure out their careers after Mercer.”

Though the Vikings’ losing skid has continued since the trip, Levy contends that continuing to build trust and chemistry will help the team pad the win column.

“When things get tough, our guys have a tendency to revert to hold habits,” Levy said. “We have good enough talent to be successful if we act the right way.”

For the Vikings, that means finding the open man within Levy’s selfless, Princeton offense.

“What’s important is addressing our playmaking issues so we can focus on the human stuff,” Levy admitted. Out of 130 NJCAA Division II teams, the Vikings rank 82nd in assists per game (13.7) and 127th in points (64).

Even so, MCCC is taking opponents deep into the second half. Ten points or fewer decided 11 of the Vikings 15 contests.

A glance at the box score tells the story of the loss column: missed free throws.  

The Vikings are shooting 63 percent from the free throw line. Their biggest win of the season, a 10-point victory over Roxbury Community College, saw the Vikings shoot 93 percent from the stripe.

Recently, four missed free-throws made the difference in dropping the Dec. 5 contest to Essex County College by a single point.

But more than the free-throws, Levy contends that the Vikings’ post-season hopes are still alive. In NJCAA Region 19, MCCC is just six games behind the first placed Essex Wolverines.

“We’ve got to get better,” Levy said, adding that he advises his players to be better teammates.

“Don’t look down the road. Take it one day at a time.”

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The Men's basketball team huddles during a Dec. 12 game against the County College of Morris.