GCCC hopes similarity equals success
By J. Levi Burnfin
The similarities are apparent between the men's and women's Garden City Community College basketball teams.
They both have new head coaches who were assistants last year. They both have only two returning players. They both will play an up-tempo style of basketball, but have the ability to slow it down, as well. And they both will rely heavily on transfer players this season.
There are some differences. The Lady Busters are coming off an 29-4 season and a run to the Region VI Division I Semifinals. On the other side, the Busters went 12-19 and were eliminated in the first round of the conference tournament.
Regardless, both teams are now starting from scratch.
New Head Coaches
Head men's coach Brady Trenkle was an assistant on last year's team under Rand Chappell. He coached at Dodge City for eight years, the first four as an assistant and the last four as a head coach before taking the job at Garden City.
Head women's coach Nick Salazar was an assistant under head coach Alaura Sharp for the past two seasons. Prior to that, he served as the head coach for Highland (N.M.) High School in Albuquerque.
The two men returning for the Busters are 6-foot-3 guard Reuben King, and 6-5 forward Jade Cathey. King played in 31 games last season, averaging 11.9 points and 4.4 rebounds per game. Cathey played in only 17 games, becoming eligible at the semester break, but made his mark during that time, grabbing a team-high 7.2 boards and averaging 13.4 points per game, garnering a Region VI All-Region Honorable Mention award.
"They're having to learn a whole new system," Trenkle said about his two returners. "We're demanding more on the little things right now than they've ever known before."
Learning the new system under a new coach, Trenkle said, makes it seem as though there are no returners. Everybody is learning together and developing together.
Trenkle also noted their experience in the conference could be invaluable.
"It's good to have guys that have played in the Jayhawk back," he said.
Returning for the women are a pair of guards — 5-9 guard Jasmine Christmas and 5-10 guard Allegria Chisom. Chisom posted averages of 4.9 points and 2.5 rebounds per game in 33 appearances. She also shot 50 percent from three-point range (21 of 42). Christmas red-shirted last year after averaging 5.3 points and 3.3 boards per game in 2011-12, playing in all 33 games.
"We definitely feel like, even though we're returning only two, we do have some pretty significant experience," Salazer said about Christmas and Chisom, along with three transfer players for the Lady Busters.
Both teams have several transfers. Talan Whitaker (Northwest Kansas Technical College), Jeremy Wilson (Coffeyville), D'Shon Taylor (John Brown University), and Keegan Oyugi (Neosho County), all are expected to play big roles this season, Trenkle said.
Whitaker, Wilson, and Taylor are all post players with similar games that Trenkle believes can put his Busters in a position to be multiple on both ends of the floor.
The 6-5, 230-pound Whitaker played in 30 games at Northwest Tech, averaging 10.1 points and 7.4 rebounds per game. Wilson is a 6-6, 225-pound forward who scored four points and three boards per game for the Red Ravens. Taylor, a 6-5, 210-pound post, grabbed 5.3 boards and 9.7 points in only 19.6 minutes per game last season.
The trio will provide much of rebounding and defense of the rim for the Busters despite not having overwhelming height.
"We're pretty comfortable with our 6-5, 6-6 kids down there because we're all muscle," Trenkle said.
The three transfers for the Lady Busters are 5-5 point guard Shauqunna Collins, who played at Jackson (Mich.) Community College, 6-1 forward Sandra Davis, from Bowie (Md.) State University, and Zantaya Davis-Jackson, Middle Tennessee State.
Collins led Jackson in scoring with 13.2 points per game in 26 appearances. Davis played in 25 games, scored 2.6 points and grabbed 3.3 boards in limited time. Davis-Jackson did not record a game played with Middle Tennessee State.
Both teams will rely on their depth as they will run an up-tempo style of play at times, and neither have a go-to star to lean on every night. The depth will also be useful as the KJCCC is becoming more strict with hand-checking on defense, calling more fouls on defense during play.
"I like our depth," Trenkle said. "We don't have a definitive star on the team. I can say I wish I did, but I think we have different guys that can step it up each night."
Salazer said almost the same barely an hour later in separate interviews.
"I actually feel like (depth) is one of the strengths of this team," he said. "I don't know that we have a superstar the way some of our fans have seen in the past. I don't know that we have a Tamara Jones who is going to score 20 and get 10 rebounds every night, but I also know that we have more depth than we ever have had."
Jones played for the Lady Busters last season, earning NJCAA All-American honors, before transferring to play at Southern Mississippi University.
That depth will coincide with both team's preferred style of play of being able to speed up and slow down when needed, which both coaches said they'll need to do in a difficult conference.
Both teams begin their regular season schedules on Friday. The Busters travel to Colby to take on Sunrise Christian Prep at 5:30 p.m., and the Lady Busters head to Liberal to compete with Murray State (Okla.) at 2 p.m.
The first home games of the season will be at the Pepsi Classic, Nov. 8-9, at the Perryman Athletic Complex, for both squads. The Busters host Kingdom Prep and North Platte, Neb., while the Lady Busters host Howard College (Texas) and Eastern Wyoming.