Mentor Cardinals 2019-20

cardzfan1234

Well-known member
Mentor's next game is at home against Solon on Friday. The last time Mentor played the Comets, it was the most unexpected loss they took this season. Solon graduated four starters that were the core (along with star Sincere Carry) of the 2018 state runners-up. Mentor brought back their top three scorers from a team that went 3-0 against the Comets last season. The loss triggered the low point when the team was just 4-4 in a season where there were pretty high expectations. They had a road loss early against Medina followed by a disappointing end to the Arby's tournament. I thought Mentor could possibly win the Arby's tournament. Instead they lost in a close semifinal and then got whacked in the consolation game. The loss to Solon made me wonder if my expectations were too high. Did they peak last year? Chemistry issues? Not enough depth? I know that people use the old football excuse, but Luke Floriea was really the only regular contributor on the basketball team that played football. The rest of the starters were probably in the gym pretty regularly in the summer and fall.

Since that loss at Solon, Mentor has looked like I thought they would all season as they have won 11 of 12. The only loss was on a long road trip at Lakota East (maybe the 2nd or 3rd best team in SWO) the day after an emotional comeback win against Medina. If Mentor can beat Solon, they will clinch a share of the league. Back when they were 2-2 in the conference with four games remaining against Shaker, Medina, and Solon - that seemed pretty unlikely. A win over a Lake Catholic team that has two DI players would be a huge way to end the regular season. This should be a fun final weekend of the regular season.
 

mentfan

Member
In the Krizancic era, Mentor teams have always peaked in the latter part of the season, so its no surprise that this years team is no different. His teams are always fundamentally sound (mental toughness, great basketball IQ, intense, sound defense, unselfish, good 3 point shooters) and are always competitive. This years tournament team's performance will be very interesting, due to what I believe is their one questionable area, their depth.
 

cardzfan1234

Well-known member
In the Krizancic era, Mentor teams have always peaked in the latter part of the season, so its no surprise that this years team is no different. His teams are always fundamentally sound (mental toughness, great basketball IQ, intense, sound defense, unselfish, good 3 point shooters) and are always competitive. This years tournament team's performance will be very interesting, due to what I believe is their one questionable area, their depth.
Getting Caleb Piks healthy and back will be huge. That is a must if they are to have a shot at putting together consecutive wins against good teams like Brush, Medina, Green, Shaker, etc. As much as I like this team, they are still one or two players away (along with a healthy Piks) from being able to be a threat in Columbus. The state title team trusted 7 guys in a tight game. Depth just isn't there like that 2012-13 team.

The big three of Floriea, Chicone, and Rogers are right there with any of the big time players to play for Krizancic. It is rare that all three are hot in the same game. But that is what it will take game after game to will this team to Columbus. It would be really nice to give Coach K one final trip to the state tournament.
 

bbfan29

Member
Getting Caleb Piks healthy and back will be huge. That is a must if they are to have a shot at putting together consecutive wins against good teams like Brush, Medina, Green, Shaker, etc. As much as I like this team, they are still one or two players away (along with a healthy Piks) from being able to be a threat in Columbus. The state title team trusted 7 guys in a tight game. Depth just isn't there like that 2012-13 team.

The big three of Floriea, Chicone, and Rogers are right there with any of the big time players to play for Krizancic. It is rare that all three are hot in the same game. But that is what it will take game after game to will this team to Columbus. It would be really nice to give Coach K one final trip to the state tournament.
Are you implying this is Coach K”s final year of coaching? I wouldn’t be surprised if he retires after 40 years, however, he still looks like he could go a few more. Also, he would be a tough act to follow, based on what he has brought to Mentor basketball.
 

cardzfan1234

Well-known member
Are you implying this is Coach K”s final year of coaching? I wouldn’t be surprised if he retires after 40 years, however, he still looks like he could go a few more. Also, he would be a tough act to follow, based on what he has brought to Mentor basketball.
No inside knowledge. I wouldn’t be surprised if this is his last, especially the further they go. I could see Chicone’s senior year sealing it too. I would be extremely surprised if he goes past next season.

Whether he ends after this year or anytime in the next few, this looks like by far the best team as I look at the current freshman, sophomore, and junior classes.
 

Irish60

Well-known member
Mentor does seem to be peaking at the right time! They may not have enough to knock St. Edward, but IMO they are the only team in NEO that can keep the Eagles away from Columbus.
 

cardzfan1234

Well-known member
Mentor does seem to be peaking at the right time! They may not have enough to knock St. Edward, but IMO they are the only team in NEO that can keep the Eagles away from Columbus.
Mentor and St Eds play in different regions, so if both teams kept winning they wouldn’t meet until the state semifinal. Mentor’s path to Columbus will have to include wins over Brush, Medina, and probably Green - although Shaker might have something to say about that. Green is in a loaded Canton district, but they are the best of the bunch.

St Eds plays in the Toledo/Akron region. Because that makes a lot of sense as they are so close to Toledo and Akron...
 

3out2in

Well-known member
I was at the game at Shaker last week and Piks still had his arm in a sling. Any idea when he'll be back?
 

cardzfan1234

Well-known member
I was at the game at Shaker last week and Piks still had his arm in a sling. Any idea when he'll be back?
Might be as soon as a couple weeks. Hopefully the district semifinal. Even healthy, I’m not sure how much Mentor can expect out of him right away. While this injury allows him to keep up with the cardio, he can’t shoot at all during this time of recovery. I imagine anyone would be a little rusty if they had to take all this time off. But still, even a rusty shooting Piks can bring other things to the team - length, rebounding, defense, and experience.
 

cardzfan1234

Well-known member
The regular season is over. Mentor finished 16-6. The team started 4-4 and then won 12 of 13 games before losing in the finale against Lake Catholic. If you had asked me how many wins this team would get before the season, I would have put the over/under at 19.5. I expected a loss in league play. One at the Arby's Classic was probable. And then a third loss somewhere was very feasible against the likes of Lake Catholic or in the league. By my own standards, built strongly on the basis of returning the top three scorers from a 20-win season last year, Mentor didn't quite hit the mark in the regular season. I don't think they are headed into the tournament quite as strong as they seemed a year ago, but they are pretty close.

The tournament is what it is all about now. Mentor's backcourt tandem of Luke Chicone and Luke Floriea will have a lot of the load on their shoulders. Coach Krizancic has often called them the "best backcourt in the state." They will need to play like that in order for Mentor to get to Columbus. With Cleveland Heights back in the fold, Mentor's path out of Euclid is admittedly a little more difficult. I am more concerned about the Tigers than I ever was about the Arcs. Cleveland Heights has a backcourt (Garvin Clarke and EJ Farmer) that can rival, and probably surpass, what Mentor has.

Chad Rogers has had a very good senior season, often leading the team in scoring. His inside/outside game makes him a dangerous offensive threat. Getting Caleb Piks back will be a nice shot in the arm for the team. Piks brings a lot of the "little" things that win basketball games. Rebounding and defense are at the top of that list. Anything he can give scoring-wise will be a bonus, but if he can get 6-8 rebounds a game and play his usual intensity on defense - Mentor becomes closer to a complete team.

As for the rest of the team, I think more often than not we will see a rotation of just six players. Just a hunch. The other two that weren't mentioned are Andrew Witte and junior Kyle Culler. Along with Piks, these are the two guys that are going to be counted on to defend the other team's best players. Culler has been a nice shooter all season and his defense has impressed me lately. Culler has probably taken more charges than the rest of the team combined. He has good defensive footwork. I would like to see him routinely take 5 or 6 outside shots per game rather than the 2 or 3 shots he takes now. He has a good shot. Witte is a senior who has put together his three best offensive games in the final stretch against Shaker, Solon, and Lake Catholic. If Mentor can get that kind of offensive scoring to go along with the rest of what he brings, Witte will be a key player in Mentor's tournament run. Cam Miller, Cael Gray, and Andrew Smith have seen some crunch time action in small amounts the past couple of weeks. With the return of Piks, their services will be mostly limited to spelling someone in foul trouble. But they will have to be ready.

It might not be Krizancic's last year (but it could be), but this is his last real shot at returning to Columbus. To get there, Mentor will have to beat three good teams that are right near their level of talent. Winning one game against teams the like of Brush, Cleveland Heights, Medina, Shaker, McKinely or Green is certainly very possible for this team. But winning three consecutive games against teams of that caliber is going to be tough. This is not a team that looks like they can beat the likes of St Eds or Moeller. But it would be a great way to go out if the team can put together an awesome run just to get to Columbus.
 

cardzfan1234

Well-known member
Tournament win #1 is in the books. An 88-58 win over Mayfield on Saturday. Caleb Piks did return, but he does have a wrap on a couple fingers on his shooting hand. I wonder if that is going to be on for the rest of the season. Either way, it is nice to have him back. He brings rebounding, length, defense, and experience for a team that can use more of all of those things. On Wednesday, Mentor will be in the district semifinals at Euclid against University. I don't know that these two teams have ever met in the tournament. I wasn't there, but I do believe these two played once at Mentor in a holiday tournament several years back. I don't know anything about University except that they are going to be a pretty big underdog.
 

cardzfan1234

Well-known member

All-District teams came out. Luke Chicone is Mentor's lone 1st teamer. Rogers and Floriea both got 2nd team. Piks, Culler, and Witte were honorable mention. With the top three all being so equally close in their play and importance, it would be hard for me to distinguish which player deserved 1st and which didn't. Maybe the difference was that Chicone is the true "basketball guy" as the other two are headed to DI schools for sports other than basketball. Had Mentor won a couple more games, they may have deserved to get two guys on the 1st team. But with only 7 spots available, that is pretty tough. St Eds got two guys, but they are both DI basketball players and four year starters on the unanimous #1 team in the area.
 

cardzfan1234

Well-known member
Congrats to Mentor on a gutsy district championship last night. Down 6 halfway through the 4th quarter, things didn't look good. Hugley was scoring at will. The team started to press a little bit on offense, taking more threes rather than trying to attack. But they settled down, got some stops and turnovers, and put the ball in the hands of Luke Chicone as often as possible. Mentor's talented trio played fantastic as Floriea, Rogers, and Chicone all scored 20+. Scoring-wise, the role players weren't able to get much scoring going. But they had their moments. Kyle Culler is a charge-taking machine. His defense has been a bright spot. Same with Caleb Piks. He can't contribute offensively like he used to, but his defensive energy and rebounding yesterday were very crucial.

Yesterday was Mentor's 13 district championship in the past 20 seasons. During that time, here are there records in each round:

sectional final: 18-2
district semifinals: 16-2
district finals: 13-3
regional semifinals: 4-8
regional finals: 2-2
state semifinals: 1-1
state final: 1-0

As you can see, the only glaring "What?!?" is the regional semifinal record. Why Mentor has been so dominant in district finals and struggled the next game has puzzled me for years. One factor is that a team that has so often relied on the outside shot has trouble shooting in college gyms. But that is all I got because it doesn't make much sense to me. They were the clear underdog 2 or 3 times, but that's about it. This region is pretty wide open. All four teams are very capable of coming out. Hopefully Mentor can find a way. This season is not going to end in a state championship with juggernauts like Moeller, St Eds, and possibly Hilliard Bradley (the only team to defeat Eds this year) awaiting the CSU winner. But one final trip to Columbus would be a sweet way to wrap up (or almost wrap up if he has another season in him) Coach Krizancic's amazing Mentor career.
 

cardzfan1234

Well-known member
For a minute there, it looked like Mentor was going to succumb to their regional semifinal curse and drop to 4-9 in those Sweet 16 matchups. A 5-8 record is a little better. The team found a way to overcome blowing the end of regulation when they had a 6 point lead late. Found a way to comeback in OT down 5. Found a way to pull out a 2OT win with Luke Floriea on the bench for the last 12 minutes of the game. Found a way to win when it looked like they were playing 1 on 5 on offense for stretches with Floriea out, Rogers a bit out of sorts, and nobody else on the team showing willingness to do anything but give the ball right back to Chicone. A very, very quality win. I would say it was their best win ever at this stage. The other regional semifinal wins were against Barberton (2002), Avon Lake (2010), Berea (2011), and Hoover (2013). Medina was the best team out of that bunch.

I would put Chicone's 39-point performance yesterday right near the top of Mentor's big-time performances in the tournament. The other games that come to mind are two big district final wins over Brush where a Mentor guard just exerted his will to win. Cole Krizancic's 41 points in 2012 and Luke Floriea with 30 point-game in 2019. Over the years I have sen Eddie Zienkowski, Adam May, Joey Meyer, Jaron Crowe, Justin Fritts, Jeff Foreman, Jack Korsok, etc. have some big games - certainly a lot in the regular season. Some had an extra special performance in the tournament. But to do it at a critical tournament game is another level. The state championship season of 2013 never had quite a moment like that. Namely because the team had so much depth that just one guy wasn't needed to carry the offense like that.

Kudos to Mentor for living to play another day. Now Round 3 with Shaker Heights. I sure hope these guys don't get too overconfident in the fact that they beat Shaker twice already. Back in the state championship season, Mentor was playing Shaker Heights for a 3rd time. During both games, Mentor had huge leads of nearly 20 and Shaker came back to win both games. In the third game at CSU in the semifinal, Mentor again got out to a huge lead - but this time, they never let it go. So Mentor has experience with Shaker in a situation like this.
 

SVillegrad

Well-known member
Sucks that there is a viturally zero chance the tournament continues, but Chicone's performance was one for the ages. He was in that zone where he wasn't going to let Mentor lose that game.
 

Bball216

Well-known member
If the Mentor vs Medina game was the last one I watched this year (streamed it) - what a way to go out. The performance by Luke Chicone was nothing short of amazing. I cannot remember a bigger game on a bigger stage.
 

bbfan29

Member
For a minute there, it looked like Mentor was going to succumb to their regional semifinal curse and drop to 4-9 in those Sweet 16 matchups. A 5-8 record is a little better. The team found a way to overcome blowing the end of regulation when they had a 6 point lead late. Found a way to comeback in OT down 5. Found a way to pull out a 2OT win with Luke Floriea on the bench for the last 12 minutes of the game. Found a way to win when it looked like they were playing 1 on 5 on offense for stretches with Floriea out, Rogers a bit out of sorts, and nobody else on the team showing willingness to do anything but give the ball right back to Chicone. A very, very quality win. I would say it was their best win ever at this stage. The other regional semifinal wins were against Barberton (2002), Avon Lake (2010), Berea (2011), and Hoover (2013). Medina was the best team out of that bunch.

I would put Chicone's 39-point performance yesterday right near the top of Mentor's big-time performances in the tournament. The other games that come to mind are two big district final wins over Brush where a Mentor guard just exerted his will to win. Cole Krizancic's 41 points in 2012 and Luke Floriea with 30 point-game in 2019. Over the years I have sen Eddie Zienkowski, Adam May, Joey Meyer, Jaron Crowe, Justin Fritts, Jeff Foreman, Jack Korsok, etc. have some big games - certainly a lot in the regular season. Some had an extra special performance in the tournament. But to do it at a critical tournament game is another level. The state championship season of 2013 never had quite a moment like that. Namely because the team had so much depth that just one guy wasn't needed to carry the offense like that.

Kudos to Mentor for living to play another day. Now Round 3 with Shaker Heights. I sure hope these guys don't get too overconfident in the fact that they beat Shaker twice already. Back in the state championship season, Mentor was playing Shaker Heights for a 3rd time. During both games, Mentor had huge leads of nearly 20 and Shaker came back to win both games. In the third game at CSU in the semifinal, Mentor again got out to a huge lead - but this time, they never let it go. So Mentor has experience with Shaker in a situation like this.
Any chance that this was Coach K’s last game of his career as Mentor Coach? I have heard rumors that he was ready to give it up after last year, but decided to stay with these guys for another year. In any case, whatever he decides to do, its been a great ride. His 650 wins & his record speaks for itself, as for his legacy. He has brought Mentor basketball to a new level, as one of the most respected & one of the best in Ohio. In any event, based on his decision, I personally want to thank him for all the thrills & excitement he has brought to the fans of Mentor.
 

cardzfan1234

Well-known member
Any chance that this was Coach K’s last game of his career as Mentor Coach? I have heard rumors that he was ready to give it up after last year, but decided to stay with these guys for another year. In any case, whatever he decides to do, its been a great ride. His 650 wins & his record speaks for itself, as for his legacy. He has brought Mentor basketball to a new level, as one of the most respected & one of the best in Ohio. In any event, based on his decision, I personally want to thank him for all the thrills & excitement he has brought to the fans of Mentor.
Anytime after the state championship, it has seemed to be year-to-year decision for him. This would've been a good year to go out with the possible expectations of a district title and maybe a run to Columbus. I thought maybe he would hold onto one more year to ride out Chicone's career, but this is definitely a much better team than what will be in place in 20-21. If it was the last one for Coach K, a very bitter-sweet way to end it. On the one hand, what a win. And he goes out winning his last game...which is how he would've wanted it to end - although not like this. The obvious bitter part was that they (almost certainly) don't get to finish the season on their terms. I guess there is still a window open to return to play. Thankfully it hasn't been completely closed yet. But it is impossible to predict and most likely won't happen.

If that was the end, what a career. He has completely transformed the program and hopefully whomever takes it over (whether it is next year or the year after) will be able to use that momentum.
 
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