Published 1/4/2013 in Sports
By ADAM HOLT
New team, new coach, and now, a new challenge.
After an up-and-down first half of the season where the Broncbusters went 8-6, the Garden City Community College men's basketball team starts conference play with a 7 p.m. home game against Butler on Saturday.
For a squad made up almost entirely of freshmen and transfers, that's coached by someone who's been out of the Jayhawk Conference — and junior college — for years, KJCCC play should be a learning experience for all the Busters.
"Obviously, everybody on our team, basically it will be their first Jayhawk Conference game," head coach Rand Chappell said. "They may not know exactly what it takes, but we're trying to educate them. I think they're really excited about it, and want to play well."
At the same time, GCCC isn't too worried about being overwhelmed. To an extent, conference play is conference play, regardless of what league it might be.
"Any time you're going into conference play, every possession counts," said point guard Frank Agholor, who transferred in from Hillsborough Community College (Fla.). "You've just got to execute as much as you can, play defense, work on everything possession to possession."
"I probably will learn something I didn't know, being it's been a long time," Chappell said. "At the same time, I think conference basketball across the country, whatever conference you play in, or when you watch it on television, you see that the intensity level goes up by about 25 to 50 percent at conference time. People are playing harder and tougher, and more physical. I am familiar with that, and that's what we expect it to be."
The matchup against 12-2 Butler is the first of three games in a stretch of five days, against the top three teams in the Jayhawk West. Garden City heads to No. 4 Hutchinson (14-0) on Monday, then hosts No. 9 Barton (13-1) on Wednesday.
Before they worry about those games, the Busters have to contend with the Grizzlies. Butler has five players averaging at least 8.5 points per game, led by Sean Osler and his 11.9 average.
The Busters will be looking for consistency. They weren't able to sweep any of their weekend games during non-conference play, and have struggled to find a lasting rhythm on offense.
Still, the ups and downs of that 8-6 start had some positives for GCCC.
"I think the chemistry's actually there, since we all got a feel for each other," Agholor said. "Winning and losing was, I want to say, a good thing, so we understand where to go from there."
While it's a tough start to the conference schedule for a team that's still in some ways trying to find itself, the expectations are still there for Garden City.
"We'd like to get some results, and we'd like to get them now," Chappell said. "But either way, I feel like we're moving in the right direction, and we're gonna have some success in the conference in the second semester."
"This is a true test for us to see how good of a team we can be," Agholor said. "I think if we make a good run against these teams, it looks pretty good for us going in."
Notes: Freshman starting guard Reuben King didn't get back to Garden City until Thursday night, after being held up with some family commitments and travel issues. King is from Brooklyn, N.Y.
Sophomore guards Terry Webb and Jamez Jones, both Wichita natives, were yet to report back, as well.
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