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COC hoops cooks up new formula

COC Women's Basketball Preview: Path to competing begins with scheme change

Posted: December 17, 2013 10:45 p.m.
Updated: December 17, 2013 10:45 p.m.
College of the Canyons women’s basketball players, from left, Keke Mathews, Shawn Kolani and Jordan Oster. College of the Canyons women’s basketball players, from left, Keke Mathews, Shawn Kolani and Jordan Oster.
College of the Canyons women’s basketball players, from left, Keke Mathews, Shawn Kolani and Jordan Oster.

It wasn’t broke.

But College of the Canyons women’s basketball head coach Greg Herrick felt he had to fix it.

Or added a new wrinkle if you want to call it that.

Herrick’s patented stampede offense wasn’t going to get the job done in 2013-14, so he added pick-and-roll sets to make the run-and-gun offense more dynamic.

Thus far, College of the Canyons’ overall results are mixed with the Cougars getting off to a 5-5 start this season.

This will be a unique season for COC — not just in offense, but in makeup and placement.

Starting with the placement, the Cougars moved from the Western State Conference, South Division (which they were the dominant force of) to the North Division.

That instantly put the Cougars in a tough spot with perennial power Ventura, which was the state’s No. 2 seed in last year’s state tournament, having ruled over the North.

COC has the second-longest active playoff streak in the state (20 years) to Ventura.

“It’s challenging,” Herrick said. “I’m not one to back down from that. It’s going to be harder to win. We had our way with the south for years.”

As far as makeup is concerned, the Cougars are size challenged and freshman heavy.

Last season’s team had the ability to defend with size in the post.

This team doesn’t have that luxury.

There are 17 girls listed on the roster (the biggest in Herrick’s 22 seasons at the helm of COC) and 14 are freshmen.

The heavy load will be placed on the sophomores — particularly small forward Keke Mathews and point guard Shawn Kolani.

Through 10 games, Mathews was scoring 20.3 points and pulling down 9.6 rebounds per game and Kolani was at 15.0 points and 8.4 assists per game.

They are two main reasons why Herrick felt the need to tinker with things.

“Shawn and Keke need to score 20 points for us to win games, so why not put the ball in their hands,” Herrick said.

The point of the pick and roll is not only to get those two the ball, but to open up opportunities in the perimeter for COC’s jump shooters.

Streaky sophomore guard Jennifer Franco and Saugus graduate and freshman Jordan Oster will be two girls counted on to hit open shots when Mathews and Kolani draw the double teams.

“(That) role is very pivotal,” Kolani said of the open shooter. “We’re not hitting our shots, we’re not winning.”

COC has been an odd team to figure out early.

The Cougars defeated then state No. 1 Mt. San Antonio College 68-67 on Nov. 30, then lost to Ventura two days later 85-59.

“If we have every game like Mt. SAC, we’d be a great team overall,” Mathews said. “We execute, we’ll go far this year.”

COC begins conference play on Jan. 8 hosting Pierce College.

There is hope that the Cougars will have another weapon at some point during conference play.

West Ranch High graduate Hannah Green left Sonoma State recently after playing just one game with the team.

The Wildcats all-time blocked shots leader and the Foothill League’s best defender over the last two seasons intends to play for the Cougars and would instantly give COC a presence it lacks inside.

It remains to be seen if she will be eligible.

Until then, COC has to go with what it has.

That’s not a bad thing, Kolani said.

“I think the road is endless,” Kolani said. “When we bring our full intensity, all our energy, we can beat anybody. For right now it’s about working on consistency. When we become consistent, we’re really good.”



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