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New look and a strong start

COC men have 10 new players on this year’s team

Posted: November 17, 2009 10:34 p.m.
Updated: November 18, 2009 4:30 a.m.
College of the Canyons basketball players battle for a loose ball at practice on Tuesday at COC. The Cougars have gotten off to a 3-0 start. College of the Canyons basketball players battle for a loose ball at practice on Tuesday at COC. The Cougars have gotten off to a 3-0 start.
College of the Canyons basketball players battle for a loose ball at practice on Tuesday at COC. The Cougars have gotten off to a 3-0 start.

Sometimes, change can be a good thing.

The College of the Canyons men’s basketball team looks significantly different from last year.

Ten new players on the roster could lead to an adjustment period for most squads.

But after struggling through an 11-19 season, Hart grad Brian Kimble welcomed the change — especially since it helped bring a few familiar faces.

One of two returners from last year’s squad, Kimble, who redshirted last season, is a slashing scorer in the Cougars’ backcourt who has taken a leadership role this year.

The sophomore was The Signal’s All-Santa Clarita Valley Player of the Year for 2007 and said setting an example on and off the court was a priority for him this year.  

Kimble said the team’s togetherness is what sets it apart, and attributes the team’s unity to most of the players going through the learning curve at the same time.

“There’s a difference,” Kimble said. “We’re playing better as a team now. ... We’re young, and we’re making mistakes, but once we make them, we’re trying to get it back. We’re not getting down on each other. It changes the attitude. It changes everything.”

It’s made a difference on the court as well, as COC has gotten off to a 3-0 start this season.

Cougars forward Brannon Bradley agreed, but said speed has also made a difference this time around.

Bradley averaged nearly 13 points and five rebounds last season for the Cougars, and both those numbers look to improve with a year of starting experience under his belt.

“Our defense is a lot quicker than last year,” Bradley said. “We’re smaller, but we play defense with a lot of heart.”

The new faces have helped increase the team’s intensity and ability on defense, which is where it all starts, said head coach Howard Fisher.

“We’re playing with a lot of energy,” Fisher said. “We stressed defense, and our players have bought into that and realized the importance of it. It’s created a lot of opportunity for us.”

There have been adjustments with the young team, but the group has been able to pull out three wins with three different lineups.

“I don’t know if we’re trying to find a (starting lineup) as long as our five guys are competitive every day out there,” Fisher said. “We’re doing a good job of sharing the basketball. We like to have different guys shooting the ball and find the hot hand every night.”

Rendon Dominguez has been one of those hands for the Cougars. The Hart grad transferred from The Master’s College for an opportunity at more playing time and had benefitted the team with his versatility.

“He’s stepped in and been a great performer for us,” Fisher said. “Rendon starts at the three for us right now, he’s got a 3-point shot and he’s able to run the offense.”

The rangy shooter joins his brother Parker, who is more of a back-to-the-basket post presence for COC’s frontcourt.

Freshman Rasheem Harris, a 6-foot-1-inch guard from Reseda, will also play significant minutes for the Cougars, as will Cameron Bell, a 6-foot-4-inch freshman guard from Leuzinger High in Los Angeles. Both have made an impression with their defensive abilities.

Brian’s younger brother, Ben, will also contend for minutes in a backcourt.
Fisher said with a young group, controlling the learning curve will be as important as anything else.

“I think this year, we’re just trying to limit the information we give them and try to allow them to grasp concepts and new ideas and playing college basketball,” Fisher said.

Bradley said there is potential.

“We really try to focus on defense. We’re not trying to outscore the other team, but we like to run the fast break and our set offense. We’ve got a lot of shooters this year. The more disciplined we get, the better we’ll be,” Bradley said. “We just have to be patient and communicate.”



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