Monmouth-Roseville boys' basketball coach Chuck Grant doesn't worry about his team's ability to handle big-game situations on the road.|
However, that doesn't mean Grant, the school's athletic director as well, is willing to swap what he hopes are two more home dates at the Shoebox in this week's Class 2A regional tournament hosted by the top-seeded Titans.
"Of course, we pride ourselves on being a good road team," said Grant, whose 22-4 West Central North co-champions begin their postseason Wednesday night at 7:30 against either Macomb or Biggsville West Central. "One thing that helps us year in and year out is that we seem to play in a lot of big games. You get used to having that crowd at a feverish pitch."
With a double-overtime loss to Minonk Fieldcrest in last March's Princeton Sectional finals the only barrier between Monmouth-Roseville and the Elite Eight, the Titans are undoubtedly champing at the bit to get back to that level and beyond.
"It's awesome to play in a super-sectional," said Grant, who coached Mon-Rose to its only such appearance in 2007. "It'd be nice to get back in it, but we've got to stay focused on what's at hand. The last several weeks, we've focused on climbing back into the conference race, so we hadn't really talked much about the postseason.
"I do know from earlier discussions we've had that the guys would love to get back in the position they were last year and then try to take the team to the next level."
The Titans have both the outside and inside games to make them dangerous in the playoffs. They are led by junior point guard Martel Hunter's 14.5 points, five rebounds, four assists and three steals per game. His perimeter skills augmented by 6-foot-6 junior forward Trayvon Smith (13 points, eight rebounds per game).
And, Mon-Rose has played all but one of the teams in its six-team regional gathering, with the exception being theBrad Jackson-coachedWest Central Heat (14-12), who play Macomb (5-18) in the first of tonight's first-round games in Monmouth.
"And, assuming Macomb beats West Central, we have beaten them twice, but I look at them as a team that's extremely dangerous," said Grant. "They've played a tough schedule, and they've played people well. Plus, as a coach you're never really comfortable playing out of a bye. I feel like it's important to get that first-round game under your belt. Being at home, at least that's one advantage we have."
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