Returning only two players from last season, the Brahmas prepare for the 2016-2017 season to tip-off with a locker room filled with fresh faces.
The 2016 – 2017 men’s basketball team comes into the season with new pieces and new goals.
The Brahmas return only two members of last year’s team, guard Javonte Matthews and forward Anthony Suber. According to head coach Charles White, four of the five sophomores from the 2015-2016 team moved on to four-year universities. White believes that this season’s team has at least four players with Division-1 talent.
Without a player over 6’7” the team lacks size so, according to White, it will need to play scrappy.
“When the opportunity presents itself we want to push the ball,” White said. “We do a better job at pushing because our guys are active, it’s just a matter of getting the ball in the hole. You can’t go out there and hope you can make shots, you have to go out there and make shots and get some stops. That’s the name of the game this year, getting stops. Our goal is to keep teams under 30 a half.”
True point guard play is a piece this season that they didn’t have last year. According to White, last season’s point guard, Montel Shirley, made all-conference but was a converted scorer. This season, starting point guard Kelton Conway, a bounce back from CSUN, offers the Brahmas a true playmaker handling the ball. White describes Conway as a dynamic player that can get up the floor and a good leader. According to White, the left-handed point guard is still learning to play the position as a leading role, but has the ability to make others better and move the ball.
The Brahmas face tough competition throughout their schedule. The season opens Nov. 15 against Glendale Community College, ranked No. 11 in Southern California, according to the California Community College Men’s Basketball Coaches Association. For their second game, Pierce will visit East Los Angeles College, the No. 8 team in the state. Other out of conference games scheduled include Cerritos College and Citrus College, ranked No. 7 and No. 10 in Southern California respectively. According to White, Chaffey College, the No. 5 ranked team in the state, could also be added to the schedule.
Assistant coach Ron Allen Sr. says the goal of the season is to compete and communicate, and believes the Brahmas record will take care of itself.
“I expect us to be in shape and very very competitive,” Allen Sr. said. “The team will have a sense of purpose and a hot passion for the sport with a lot of intensity. From a technical standpoint we want the team to understand the principle of being coached while they develop.”
White enters his first full-season as head coach for the Brahmas after taking over mid-season last year after six years as an assistant at Pierce.
“You always think that you want to be a college head coach, and then all of a sudden bam! Here it is man,” White said. “Last year was easy, so to speak, because everything was set up. I didn’t have to do the paperwork or anything like that. Now I understand what head coaches go through, and it’s still not over yet. We still have to get guys cleared, fundraising. There’s a whole lot more to it.”
Athletic Director Bob Lofrano is confident in White and looks forward to seeing the team on the court.
“I don’t know what he has on the floor, but I know him personally,” Lofrano said. “I think he does a fine job and is easy to get along with for the team. They play together. They’re very cohesive.”
White has a coaching staff that he can depend on to help him transition to the head coach’s office.
“I have guys that actually know what they’re doing,” White said. “It’s easy to just go in there and push a couple buttons here and there because they have everything setup for me.”
The season is set to tip off with Red VS Black Madness on Thursday, Nov. 3. The event will feature both a men’s and women’s split squad game and 3-point contest as well as a dunk contest. The women’s game starts at 5 p.m. and the men’s at 6:30 p.m. in the South Gym.