NCAA BK

Speedy guard Mondy has revived career at Oakland

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ROCHESTER, Mich. (AP)

(Eds: With AP Photos.)By NOAH TRISTERAP Sports Writer

It's been more than a decade since a Division I player averaged four steals per game.

Oakland's Duke Mondy is on pace for that type of season. His secret? Trying to think through each possession the same way his opponents do.

''I kind of put myself - if I was a player, at each position, what would I do?'' Mondy said. ''Like, if I was the center, what would I do? Would I kick it out? Or if I was the point guard, would I penetrate and try to kick?''

At times, it seems like Mondy is a step ahead of everyone else on the court. The 6-foot-4 senior is averaging exactly four steals per game, the top mark in the nation, and Mondy's quickness and defensive instincts have helped him revive a college career that once seemed to be headed off the rails.

''I'm huge now into giving kids second chances, if we can probe into their past and find out about them,'' Oakland coach Greg Kampe said. ''No kid from his family has ever gotten a degree.''

Before joining the Golden Grizzlies, Mondy played two tumultuous years at Providence, falling out of favor toward the end of the 2010-11 season before being released from his scholarship by the Friars. The Grand Rapids, Mich., native came back to his home state to play at Oakland, a suburban Detroit program with a reputation for high scoring and fearless scheduling.

Mondy arrived with some baggage, but Kampe was willing to give him an opportunity. Helping Mondy stay on track is an ongoing challenge. In November, Mondy and teammate Dante Williams missed games at California and Gonzaga. They were suspended after police in California arrested the players based on a woman's sexual assault complaint. Prosecutors decided against bringing charges, and the school said it conducted an internal review of the incident and ''confirmed that no crime was committed.''

''I have a real problem with what happened in California, morally, but I didn't grow up on the streets, or how he grew up,'' Kampe said. ''The compass that I have inside of me and the compass that Duke has inside of him aren't the same. ... Duke is a good young man. We've just got to work on his compass.''

On the court, Kampe has looked on in amazement at Mondy's ability to impact a game defensively. Six steals at North Carolina. Seven at Indiana. Seven more against Michigan State.

Mondy says he barely notices when his steal count climbs during a game.

''It's kind of what I do. If you do something you normally do, it's not going to stand out as much,'' Mondy said. ''In my head, I really thought I had three. I didn't know I had seven. It's just weird sometimes, how I rack them up.''

The last players to average at least four steals through a season - while playing at least 21 games - were Desmond Cambridge of Alabama A&M (5.5) and John Linehan of Providence (4.5). They both did it in 2001-02. Marques Green of St. Bonaventure finished at 3.96 in 2003-04, and Alexis McMillan of Stetson averaged 3.95 in 2002-03.

Mondy averaged 2.1 per game in his second season at Providence and 3.0 last season at Oakland.

''I've never seen anything like it. We knew it when we got him. The sit-out year, he just took the ball from us in practice all the time,'' Kampe said. ''Early on, it caused us as many problems as it helped us, because he's gambling and putting us in a bad situation, and that'll happen now and then. But you have to live with that if you want the five run-outs that you're going to get in a game.''

Mondy is clearly unlike anyone Kampe has coached - a gifted player who nonetheless presents his share of challenges for those who care about him. Kampe said recently that Mondy was two classes away from graduation, with a 2.85 grade-point average.

''So he's making it,'' Kampe said. ''It doesn't end in May when he walks. We're going to be joined together at the hip for a long, long time.''

And it sounds like that feeling is mutual.

''He's been a great mentor to me. He's been like a father,'' Mondy said. ''We bump heads sometimes, but he wants the best for me. He's going to tell me straight, how it is. He's not going to sugar coat anything. He's been hard on me. He's been helping me a lot, changing my life around.''

Tagged: California, Duke, Providence, Oakland, Duke Mondy

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