In just their first season at Mount St. Mary’s, transfers Andrew Smeathers and Chris Martin have made quick and favorable impressions.
Smeathers, a 6-foot-8, 205-pound forward from Butler, has played in just seven games – starting all seven – after sitting out the first semester per NCAA rules. But the junior already leads the Mountaineers (6-9 overall and 2-2 in the Northeast Conference) in scoring at 11.4 points per game and ranks second in rebounding (4.9) and assists (1.7).
“Andrew’s one of our most complete players in the sense that he’s a really good rebounder and defender and he can score,” coach Jamion Christian said Wednesday. “He does all three of those things very well. And he also brings a consistent mindset every day to practice and games. You always welcome guys that are going to make you better, but it still takes time for people to get adjusted. So I knew adding him was going to make us better.”
Martin, a 6-0, 185-pound shooting guard from Marshall, ranks fourth on the team in scoring (8.0 points) and assists (1.1) and second in assists-to-turnover ratio (1.4). The junior has played in 14 games, including seven starts.
“He’s a creative scorer,” Christian said of Martin. “… Chris is really starting to play well. I hope that he’s turned the corner because if he has truly turned the corner, he can make our team pretty special.”
Smeathers and Martin each compiled 32 points in the team’s last two contests, which turned out to be wins against Central Connecticut State and St. Francis Brooklyn.
Mount St. Mary’s has had success with transfers as guards Sam Prescott (from Marist) and Rashad Whack (George Mason) helped the team win last year’s NEC tournament championship and advance to the NCAA tournament. Christian said the coaching staff’s assignment is to continue to ease their acclimation to the program and their teammates.
“We do have a formula and recipe that we think works,” Christian said. “… A large part of that recipe is patience and conversation. You’ve got to understand that when you take a transfer, these guys didn’t play somewhere else, and so you’re taking on somewhat similar to a wounded child. So you’ve got to really nurse them back to health.
"Sometimes that’s tough love, but a lot of times, it’s just sticking with them and trying to put them in a position where they can be successful. Sometimes that’s an easy lay-up early in a game or a wide-open shot or just a pat on the back sometimes where you say, ‘Hey, I believe in you. We’re going to ride with you.’ … That’s what we’ve tried to do with both Chris and Andy. It’s just really having their backs and believing in them. They’ve given us some good games and some good minutes.”