Lone senior has adapted to Raiders

Mpondo a critical part of defense in a 2-year stint.

He also speaks four languages, which could mean complaints to the coaches four different ways.

“Right away, I nipped that in the bud,” WSU coach Billy Donlon said with a smile. “I said, ‘If you wanna say something because you’re frustrated, just say it in English.’ ”

Mpondo, a 6-foot-8 forward and the team’s only senior, will be the sole honoree at a Senior Night ceremony after tonight’s the game withDetroit at the Nutter Center.

The Raiders (12-15, 7-8), currently in seventh place, will try to climb closer to sixth place (the lowest spot that hosts a first-round league tournament game) and then talk about a player Donlon said has been important, despite a truncated two years in the program.

“I haven’t been here four years, but I’ve been here as long as anybody else, and I’m the oldest guy on the team,” said Mpondo, who averages 3.6 points and 2.8 rebounds and has scored in double figures four times this season. “I try to lead the young guys and try to help them understand what Coach Donlon wants us to do.”

Donlon said Mpondo has been one of the team’s more consistent defenders, important for Donlon and the Raiders, who rank 27th nationally in scoring defense.

“We have more good (inside players) than we’ve had in the six years I’ve been in the league, and that’s put defense at a premium,” Donlon said.

One of the biggest changes Mpondo faced came recently. Correcting a hair-cutting mistake (he cuts his own), Mpondo was forced to basically shave his head. He responded with 12 points and five rebounds against Wisconsin-Green Bay last Friday and six points and four rebounds against UW-Milwaukee on Sunday.

“I play well with it,” he said of the new cut. “I might just keep it.”

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