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College basketball: Is TMC for real?

The Mustangs men are off to their best start in years

Posted: January 13, 2012 1:55 a.m.
Updated: January 13, 2012 1:55 a.m.
The Master’s College’s Devin Dyer has helped lead The Mustangs to the No. 16 ranking in NAIA Division I. The Master’s College’s Devin Dyer has helped lead The Mustangs to the No. 16 ranking in NAIA Division I.
The Master’s College’s Devin Dyer has helped lead The Mustangs to the No. 16 ranking in NAIA Division I.

The Master’s College men’s basketball team is on pace for one of its best seasons in school history.

On pace is one thing, keeping pace is another.

Already, TMC has two wins over teams ranked in the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics Division I top 25 coaches poll and another against an NAIA Division II ranked team.

At 12-4 overall and 4-1 in the Golden State Athletic Conference, the No. 16 Mustangs are tied for first place in a conference in which they’ve never finished better than fifth place.

So what could possibly be keeping head coach Chuck Martin up at night?

Well, on Tuesday night, it probably had a lot to do with his team’s 91-80 loss to fourth-ranked Concordia in Irvine, the highest ranked opponent the Mustangs have faced this season.

Though the score was tied 76-76 with 4:43 to play, too many missed free throws and not enough defensive stops prevented TMC from knocking off the defending conference champions this time around.

But Concordia isn’t all that’s bothering Martin. It’s about the big picture.

It’s the question of whether or not his team can sustain this level of play.

“I believe it because of the kids we have. Our play against good teams has kind of verified that,” Martin said. “But we’re going to find out. I told the guys last night, the next two weeks are going to be very telling whether we’re going to be a contender or a pretender.”

With just five GSAC games gone and 13 to go, the difficulty of the conference has only begun to present itself.

Excluding TMC, three other GSAC teams are ranked in the latest top 25 poll and another two are receiving votes.

Martin argues that even the non-ranked teams in the conference are tough, especially now that everyone is in the meat of the season.
“It’s really exciting for spectators, it’s really exciting for the fans,” Martin said of conference play. “It’s a nightmare for the coaches.”

If this is the squad to finally break into the top level of the GSAC and perhaps make its first NAIA National Tournament appearance since 2000, a few things may need to continue happening.

For one, the Mustangs rank second among all NAIA Division I teams in opponent field goal percentage, allowing just 36.8 percent shooting defensively.

Opponents are scoring just over 60 points per game on TMC, which ranks fifth in the nation.

Combine that with consistent outside shooting from the experienced guard combination of Anthony Cammon, Leif Karlberg and Devin Dyer, and it all spells a winning formula.

“The way we play offensively, the way we play defensively is designed to win when we, across the course of the season, aren’t going to have the most talent every night,” Martin said.

Cammon led the team in scoring last year and is well on his way to repeating with his team-high 15.6 points per contest.

The front court is seeing improved play from returning junior Paul Brown, whose 37 blocks puts him at second among all NAIA Division I players.

A pair of freshman forwards in Chris Patureau and Jon Hogan are also chipping in needed minutes to help out on defense.

In his sixth year as head coach at the school, Martin said he’s built an extended recruiting cycle of players with a specific style and character that fit The Master’s College’s mold of a student-athlete.

Rather than reaching out to NCAA or community college transfers, TMC has moved toward players straight out of high school.

“It’s not easy to find 10 kids and put a roster together where everybody buys in and wants to play defense, rather than just going through the motions of defense,” Martin said.

A little more than halfway through the season, the group is doing much more than playing defense, they’re playing a high brand of basketball.

Is it high enough to keep winning?

“That’s the big question,” Martin quipped.


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