Garden City Community College head men’s basketball coach Brady Trenkle has always deployed a deep rotation in his previous two seasons at the helm of the Broncbusters.
This year might be his deepest team, though, with all 14 players possibly playing in games, Trenkle said, ahead of Friday’s season opening game in the Colby Classic against the Colby All-Stars.
That depth is helped by five returning players from last season, including one starter and three part-time starters.
Antorian Moore, 4.8 ppg and 5.1 rpg, started 25 games, followed by Gage Loy (16 starts), JT Bennett (15 starts) and Tykei Hallman (8 starts). Trenkle had four returners combined in his first two seasons at GCCC.
“When you’ve got kids, who are now sophomores and had a lot of games under their belt, you just see a big difference in them,” Trenkle said of his second-year players. “They understand the game better and the pace of the game better. I think that’s the improvement you’re going to see in those guys.”
Trenkle also returns Zach Beard, who played in nine games in 2014 for the Busters before leaving the team for personal reasons. But Beard, a Wichita North High School graduate, is back for 2015-16.
“He’s done everything we’ve asked of him,” Trenkle said of the now sophomore who was pivotal in an upset of Trinity Valley on Nov. 7, 2014, with 22 points on 7-of-9 shooting and 4 for 4 from 3-point range.
Outside shooting is one area where Trenkle believes the Busters may be improved heading into this season, thanks not only to Beard but the addition of some newcomers, including transfer Jabar Ray and freshmen Aaron Ray, no relation, Jamar Gilbert and Josh Fleming.
“I think that’s the biggest improvement we have,” Trenkle said.
Yet, when a couple of players were asked who was the most difficult newcomer to guard, both Hallman and Garden City High School graduate Caleb Tramp pointed to Liberal product DeVondre Livingston, a sheer sign of the depth in talent that Trenkle said his team has.
At point guard, Aaron Ray, Gilbert, Beard and James McNeal, a Kansas City, Kan., product, will vie for playing time, while Jabar Ray, Bennett and Fleming will split time at shooting guard and small forward. Brandon Jones, Hallman and Tramp can all play inside and outside, while Livingston, Moore, Loy and Jones comprise the front court.
“I feel really confident about the team, that we’re going to keep getting better,” Loy said.
Finding a way to start the conference season strong, though, is a big focus for Trenkle and the Busters after starting the 2014-15 KJCCC season 0-5. Starting strong is even more important this season with the combined conference schedule that is now 19 games instead of 17, and includes four conference matchups in December. Usually, conference games began after the winter break.
The Busters were selected by the conference coaches to finish 10th in the Jayhawk Conference in the preseason poll.
There are a couple of questions Trenkle does have for his deep squad.
“Rebounding is a question for me right now,” he said. “I don’t know how well we will rebound. There’s been some scrimmages where we got out-rebounded, and that’s always been a strength for us in the past.”
There’s is one area Trenkle is certain about his team.
“We’ve got an interesting team. They’re going to be entertaining to watch, I know that,” Trenkle said.
Note: Returning sophomore Myrek Fowlkes, who averaged 7.3 ppg and 4.1 rpg last season, suffered a season-ending injury in the preseason.