Busters hoops excited for new season
By ADAM HOLT
It's no secret that there's a lot of turnover year to year in junior college sports.
Even with that in mind, the Broncbuster basketball programs are going to look quite different this season.
On the men's side, head coach Rand Chappell takes over for Kris Baumann, who left in June to take the head coaching job at Trinity Valley in Texas. On the women's side, Alaura Sharp returns just one full-time starter from last season's squad that made it to the Region VI semifinals.
But over a week into the start of practices for the 2012-13 season, newness isn't necessarily something to be wary of.
"Guys have had a great attitude and great work ethic, we're kind of plowing through things, slowly plowing through things, getting our offense in and our defense in," Chappell said. "Maybe as much as anything, trying to learn the intensity and the way we want to go about things."
The men's team returns one player who even saw floor time last season, in sophomore Kowan Russell, who was a role player on a team that slumped to an 18-13 finish after starting 13-2.
Chappell had to scramble to build a recruiting class after taking the job and admitted he couldn't necessarily fill every hole on the roster that he would have liked.
"I think it was kind of a rushed process," Chappell said. "You sit there and think we're going to bring in six out-of-state players, and we're looking for, is there still anybody available in-state? Rather than being able to say, we need a two-guard that can really shoot and a four-man that can really rebound, we had to just go out there and look for good basketball players."
That's not to say the new-look Busters don't have any talent. Chappell said he's excited about 5-11 transfer guard Frank Agholor, who will likely play the point. He also pointed out 6-4 guard Reuben King, a freshman from Brooklyn, N.Y., who shoots the 3-pointer well and can play above the rim. The Busters should have a number of players who can shoot well from behind the arc.
Another new name for the Busters, but not new to Garden City fans, will be Cody Bernbeck, a 6-2 guard who played at Garden City High School two years ago before signing to play football at Butler.
Defensively, Chappell wants Garden City to play tough half-court man-to-man defense — and for that to be a focus for GCCC.
"We're trying to get an identity where we're starting with defense," he said. "As I've told the guys, even when we have a bad offensive night, we would like to be in the game and have a chance to win because we were good defensively. I think we have the quickness to get out and pressure people. We're going to press a little bit."
It's a similar situation for Sharp, who wants her team to play well when the other team has the ball.
"So far, I feel like we're progressing pretty strong," she said. "We put a lot of focus on our defense, trying to make that our identity at this point. Trying to get up and really pressure the ball, play a lot of people."
The Lady Busters return KJCCC freshman of the year Tamara Jones, and Sharp said earlier that she's excited about her recruiting class, which includes a number of transfers.
Chemistry has been a strong point for Garden City so far, and Sharp said GCCC is ahead of where it was at this point last year in terms of playing well together and each player knowing her role.
"I don't want to jinx it, but I feel like our team chemsitry is in a very good place compared to where we've been in the past," Sharp said. "I think they've jelled very well together; we play very well together, we share the ball. I know last year you kind of saw us make that turn at Christmas, I think that you'll see this team really passes very well, plays well together."
The Lady Busters got to test that chemistry today, playing three exhibition games in Garland, Texas, against Mineral Area College (Mo.), Collin College (Texas) and Odessa College (Texas). Transfer guard Angelique Green will miss the games with a concussion and Garden City High School graduate Kristen Heiman will not play due to a subluxed kneecap.
"It should be good competition. I'm looking forward to it," Sharp said. "There comes a point and time where it's time to play someone else. And we're at that point, so it will be good to see how we match up with someone else. Then you'll really know what you need to work on."
The Buster men head to Goodland this weekend to scrimmage Otero Junio College (Colo.) and Northwest Kansas Technical College, a first-year program.