Roster depth and conditioning improved start to season
By Mac Moore
Every player is out of breath, running full speed as the scoreboard above the basketball court shows 15 seconds left on the clock. There is no let up for the Cavaliers even though there isn’t another team on the court. The scoreboard is counting down the final practice drill, and the players know they can’t let up here or in the game.
“We definitely are in better shape than last year’s squad,” said sophomore guard Pat Jones. “I know I worked harder during the summer and Coach definitely put more emphasis on it.”
The men’s basketball team doesn’t want a repeat of last year. After starting out 9-12, the team dropped eight of their last nine games. The huge drop-off to end the year was definitely a disappointment for the group.
“The sophomores kind of became complacent, not really wanting to finish the year,” Jones said. “A lot of it had to do with injuries and a couple guys weren’t eligible at the end of semester. By the end of the season we had a walk-on starting so it definitely wasn’t ideal.”
Injuries were a sizable problem for the team. By the end of the season, the team was practicing with eight players, two of which were walk-ons. The point guard position was non-existent as the season came to a tough close.
“We didn’t have anybody,” said Coach Mike Jeffers. “Once Arvaughn Baker went out for the year, and Pat Jones was in-and-out. Yeah, we had some point guard issues.”
Last year’s leading scorer Christian Hildebrandt, now attending Texas-Pan America, was a wing player that had to convert to a point forward that brought the ball up the court. That hindered the offense as Hildebrandt was unable to focus on setting himself up in scoring position.
Jeffers believes that if the team can avoid the injury bug better this year, the team has cleared up the point guard issues from last season. Jones, who had to take the point guard position out of necessity when healthy last year, will be looking to score this year.
“That gives us flexibility with Pat, having him play that last year,” Jeffers said. “He’ll play off-guard, looking to catch and shoot. The point guard is thinking ‘I need to set someone up’. Pat needs to think ‘I need to score.’”
Jones might be the go-to-guy, but he also will not have to be a one man show with the depth of this roster.
“We’ll probably have all five starters score double digit points. We’ll be pretty solid from top to bottom,” Jones said.
Transfer sophomore Preston Oakes added that roster depth will relieve some of the scoring pressure from not just Jones, but the rest of the players.
“We know if one person is not on with a shooting night, we got some people that will pick them up,” Oakes said. “We’ve got some good freshman that will produce some numbers, a lot of guys that will contribute to the team.”
Much like the injury plagued returning sophomores, Oakes played limited time for University of Central Missouri before transferring to JCCC. Oakes believes that experience will not matter as much as the season progresses.
“Our team chemistry keeps building every day,” Oakes said. “We need to keep building on that, keep gelling. We’ve had a lot of guys playing so we are trying to find which guys play well together. We’re not the biggest team so we are going to have to play fast and quick so we just [have] to adapt to the style of play that we’ll play this year.”
Contact Mac Moore, sports editor, at email@example.com.