The Mt. San Jacinto men’s basketball team will look to rebound after missing the play-offs last year for the first time in 21 seasons. The Eagles who were in the play-off hunt until the very last day of the season finished 18-13 for the programs’ 13th consecutive winning season. Head Coach Patrick Springer is entering his fifth season at the helm for the Eagles and brings in an overall record of 81-42 at MSJC.
The team will have a different look in 2007-08 as they will try and replace three Division I transfers. Gone are all conference guard Lorenzo Keeler (Cal Poly SLO), Andre Gilbert (Kansas State), and Dane Johnson (Hofstra). Gilbert only played in 11 games last season due to a shoulder injury and was never at 100% after the third game of the season.
Many new faces have arrived on campus, two of which were brought in to shore up the perceived lack of point guard play last season. Point guards Raymond Williams (5’7” SO San Diego) and Mark Williams (5’10” FR Wilmington, DE) will get plenty of minutes and see time on the floor together for the Eagles. Raymond is a transfer from San Diego Christian College. Both have explosive speed and can score as well as distribute the basketball.
The two new point guards will be joined in the backcourt by Long Beach State transfer Tim Island, a 6’5” shooting guard originally from San Diego. As a freshman last year at Long Beach, Island averaged 11 minutes a game for a team that won the Big West and qualified for the NCAA Tournament. Mark Wilson (6’5” FR G Crenshaw HS) is an explosive athlete who will join Island on the wing. Others expected to contribute in the backcourt include, Nate Harvey (5’11” SO G San Diego), Sam Brown (6’3” FR G Hemet West Valley), Justin Jack (6’5” SO Fort Washington, MD), and Jesse Jimenez (5’10” FR Hemet).
The frontcourt will be led by a pair of second year Eagles out of Minnesota. 6’7” forward Dejuan Flowers returns after averaging 10.6 points and 7.4 rebounds a game as a freshman. Lee Stephens 6’4” (8ppg, 5.5rgg) also returns after being a part time starter a year ago. Frontline newcomers that will see minutes include Tim Taylor (6’7” FR Chicago), Derrick Langley (6’6” FR New York) and Kent State transfer Rodney Williams (6’5” SO Los Angeles).
The Eagles open the season by hosting the Hemet Elks Lodge Tip-Off Classic November 9th and 10th where they will take on Southwestern, and Riverside. During the non conference season MSJC will also participate in tournaments at Southwestern, Palomar, Riverside, and Ventura before hosting the Kiwanis Holiday Tournament December 28th and 30th.
Once conference play begins the Eagles will again have to work their way through one of the toughest conferences in the state as they battle the likes of Chaffey, San Bernardino Valley and last season’s state runners up Antelope Valley, who finished third last year in the conference.