Comets address roster vacancies

Men’s basketball season is underway, coaching staff seeks to get a few sophomores with freshmen

By Mike Thomas, Scene Editor

After a strong start in the Las Positas College tournament last season, the men’s basketball team struggled to find its identity after the departure of three out-of-state players due to financial aid issues. The Comets started 2-1 before going on a five-game skid after that tournament last season.

“We had to re-think and change our identity,” men’s basketball coach Miguel Johnson said.

CCC snapped out of its slump heading into conference games and finished the 2014-15 season 14-12 overall, 11-5 in the Bay Valley Conference.

Even though the Comets missed the playoffs last year, they were able to build team chemistry and only endured loses from the top three teams in the BVC.

This year the Comets are getting used to playing with each other. The majority of the basketball players this year are freshmen while some sophomores transferred from other colleges. Sophomore guard Bobby Syvanthong, a Diablo Valley College transfer,  said he wanted to play basketball for his hometown and help bring a basketball environment back to CCC.

“I think this year the freshmen are a talented group, but there are some growing pains we have to go through as a team,” Johnson said. “We have to get the freshman and all of the first-year sophomore guys that haven’t played under me to understand what’s expected.”

After a two-year hiatus, First Team All-BVC selection forward Larry Wickett returns for his sophomore season and is already making an impact on the court.

Johnson said the coaching staff addressed all of the team’s weaknesses from last season by recruiting freshman who can shoot the perimeter shot, and size for the low post game. He said he thinks this time the team is a contender for a playoff berth with all the talented freshmen on the roster.

“We have talented freshman like Rae Jackson, who is capable of scoring 25 points per game,” he said, “and we have Jeremiah Alston who can make 3-pointers and Deonte Smith at 6 feet 7 inches who gives us a presence inside.”

The Comets currently hold a 3-3 overall record. Due to early season lack of chemistry, the squad has been inconsistent on finding a groove during the games. This led to some tough losses during the tournament games.  

“I feel like we’ll come together soon,” Syvanthong said. “It’s a long season, so you know we have a lot more days to get everything together. By conference time I think we’ll be ready. But as for the tournament games, at least we came out with a even record.”

The potential of the team showed in a 84-77 loss to Santa Monica College Thursday at the Diablo Valley College tournament. The Comets were down 43-38 at the end of the first half after trailing by 10 points early in the game. But they cut the deficit in half with some intense defense.  In the second half they showed flashes of the intense defense, but it was not enough.

“I feel like we beat ourselves in the game and we didn’t play at our own pace,” freshman guard Jason Wright said. “I feel once everyone connects and finds their roles we will be an unstoppable team.”

Syvanthong said the guard position will be the core of the 2015-16 team because he said he and Wickett are the vocal leaders of the team. The team does have a history of playing together before joining the Comets. Some grew up with each other and played together at different times in their lives.

“The point guard always has to be the leader of a team. Others players can be leaders, but the coaching staff wants the guards to be the vocal leaders on the court,” Syvanthong said. “It’s not going to take that long for us to gel because we’ve played together somewhere, either open gym or other leagues. We’re all pretty close.”

The team’s next game will be against Butte College (5-2 overall) at the Foothill College tournament Friday at 8 p.m. 

The Comets currently sit at sixth in the state in field goal percentage shooting 49 percent. They are shooting a decent 34 percent from beyond the 3-point arc.