It was easy to miss last week.
Heck, it was even easy to miss when you were staring right at it.
But keep watching, and what you’re going to see is this version of the Garden City Busters men’s basketball team is the most talented in several years. I’ve covered the Busters throughout head coach Brady Trenkle’s entire time at the helm, starting in the 2013-14 season.
This team is Trenkle’s most talented. By how much is still to be seen, but this team has absolutely all of the characteristics of a region-contending team.
Can it be as good as Kris Baumann’s 2009 team that reached the NJCAA tournament? That’s a tall task, but the path to get there may look similar.
That 2009 team was only 9-7 in conference play. It took some time to reach their potential. As can be the case for this Busters’ team. With double-digit freshmen, including its breakout star so far, Jamir Thomas, they will have some growing pains.
And they may hurt more than in 2009, because the KJCCC played just 16 conference games, not 26 like this year. And the Busters have a tough slate to begin Jayhawk play, traveling to Butler Saturday to open the schedule, before hosting Barton on Nov. 15.
So the Busters made pick up a few losses on this side of the New Year, but watch out come February. At least, that’s when head coach Brady Trenkle sees this Buster team hitting on all cylinders.
“I don’t want to be good early,” he said. “I want to be good in late January, February. That’s when we’re going to hit our stride this year.”
Still, even in the early going, the Busters got a 79-76 win over a tough, talented Sunrise Christian Prep team on Saturday in the final night of the Buster Shootout at Conestoga Arena. Ignore the “Prep” in the name, because that’s a junior college-level basketball team.
Isaiah Chandler is heading to Wichita State. A few others have several Division I offers. Buddy Hield played there in 2012, and they sent 27 players to Division I schools from 2014 and 2015.
And the Busters beat them, and they physically man-handled them in the second half. Thomas out-scored Chandler, 15-5, in the final 20 minutes, as the two big men battled on both sides of the court.
But that was apparent. What may have been missed is Jeff Otchere’s five blocks — though, seeing the 6-11 Otchere swat balls out of the air like he’s on the volleyball team is hard to not notice.
Then there was Theo Holloway’s individual run in the second half, when he hit three treys in a matter of minutes, and finished with 14 points. Then there’s Pierre Johnson, the point guard who somehow hauled in eight rebounds, just one short of Thomas’ team-high. He also chipped in four assists.
Don’t forget Elvis Harvey, who needed just seven shots to score 13 points, and should have had more if he goes better than 4-for-9 from the charity stripe, and I’d bet he will in every game from here on out.
With just Kansas Wesleyan left on the non-conference docket, the Busters likely will be 4-0 heading into the conference slate. But then they may lose a few games.
Don’t let it fool you. It’s just going to take some time.