Early identity shift alters chemistry, winning percentage

Men’s basketball team lose three players, struggle to keep outset record intact


Qing Huang / The Advocate

Comet forward Justin Johnson jumps for a lay up during CCC’s 82-69 win against the Storm at Napa Valley College on Feb. 20, 2014.

By Robert Clinton, Sports Editor

The 2014-15 men’s basketball season seemed to be a rollercoaster ride for the team this year.

From the beginning, the Comets were hit with obstacles, which led to the team having a slow start to the season.

Through the teams ups and downs, the Comets were able to overcome many of the challenges that were put in front of them and ended the season 14-12 overall, and 11-5 in Bay Valley Conference (BVC) play.

This was a most difficult year from a coaching point of view, basketball coach Miguel Johnson said.

The Comet basketball team started off the season strong with a record of 2-1 in a tournament hosted by Las Positas College.

The 2-1 beginning looked to be the start of good things for the team.

But the departure of three out-of-state players because of financial aid issues came as abrupt and shocking to the team, and coaching staff.

After those three players left the team the Comets went on a five- game skid.

“We had to re-think and change our identity,” Johnson said.

As the season progressed, the Comets began to figure things out and started to win games.

When BVC play began, CCC started playing much better basketball.

Johnson was able to get his players to buy into the system he would preach to them every day in practice and during games.

Guard Pekelo McKenzie said the team stayed together and carried their weight the best they could.

The  Comets finished 3-7 against teams who were not in the BVC.

Things began to click once BVC play began.

The team gained more confidence after their tournament at Riverside Community College and as a result, they began to build the team chemistry back up and made strides in the right direction.

The Comets started off strong, winning four out of five against formidable BVC opponents with wins coming against Merritt College, Solano  Community College, Mendocino College and College of Alameda.

A playoff appearance was a strong possibility and forward DeAndre Russell said, “It takes a real coaching staff to get athletes to believe.”

The Comets continued to compete at a high level behind guards Tajai Johnson, Dawson Johnson and forward Justin Johnson.

The team began to play together making it hard for opposing teams to win in the Gymnasium, where the Comets went 6-2 in the BVC.

CCC has a 28-4 home record in the last four years, Johnson said.

Two standout moments of the season were the games against Yuba College.

The Comets were leading in both games late, but failed to hold on and close the game out.

In each game the Comets were battling, but would come up short because of execution at the right time by the 49ers, and costly turnovers by CCC.

If the Comets were able to just come away with a split they would have had a better chance of making the playoffs.

Along with the two crucial loses to Yuba College the Comets were also unable to defeat College of Marin.

In the two games the team played against Marin, CCC lost by a total of 11 points.

The Comets lost the first game by six points, and the second game by five.

Johnson said the fate of their season would have changed if they were able to come away with at least one victory against Marin.

The Comets battled as much as they could, but the lack of depth would come back to hurt them.

Even through all of the obstacles the team faced, they still ended the season strong and with expectations of making the playoffs.

Russell said the hardest thing for the Comets was finding out they would be “absent” from a chance to play in the playoffs this season.

Johnson said he will always remember this season because the players gave it their all on the court.