The MSJC men's basketball team will look quite different when they take the floor on Thursday in Fremont at the Ohlone College Tournament, but the coaches and players will be hoping for the usual Eagle's results.
Patrick Springer has stepped down as head coach, Pacific Coast Athletic Conference Player of the Year Dwayne Benjamin has moved on to the University of Oregon, all conference guard Dajuan Smith is at UC Santa Barbara, but yet the Eagles as always are expecting a strong season. Last season MSJC went 25-5 and advanced to the Final Eight of the State play-offs. This year the Eagles are ranked 11th in the CCCBCA pre-season rankings and #5 in the Massey rankings. MSJC has won at least 20 games and qualified for the post season in 7 straight seasons.
New coach Trent Skinner moves over from the assistant's chair he occupied for five years to take over MSJC for the 14-15 season. Sam Williams (Reno, NV) an all PCAC North division selection from last year returns to lead a group of six sophomores. Williams averaged 10.4 points and 4.4 rebounds a game last year as he played in all 30 of MSJC's games and started 13 of them. Guard Blake O'Donnell (Yucaipa) also returns after playing in 29 Eagle games last year. Also returning are a pair of post players in 6'8 Austin Klug (Riverside) and 6'10 Isaiah Jones (Sacramento), both will be expected to play expanded roles this year. Tre Hunter (Los Angeles) and Alan Palesano (Hemet) return in the back court and will be looked to for outside shooting.
The new crop of freshmen will be led by a pair of point guards, PeeWee Gardner (Oakland) and Nikko Turner (Riverside). Roosevelt Adams (Hemet West Valley) and Andrew Pendleton (Hemet) will be counted on to add depth in the front court. Rounding out the new class are Donte Walker (Modesto), Tranote Jones (Washington DC), Marcus Fuller (Riverside), and Devin Shallowhorn (Riverside).
"I like our personnel, we have some depth at each position and I think we are excited to get started", said Skinner. "We will have some things to figure out early in the season like rolls, and what style of play fits our guys best, but I think we will be an exciting team to watch and be highly competitive."
The Eagles will open the year with a game against Hartnell on Thursday to start the Ohlone Tournament which runs through Saturday. The following weekend MSJC will take part in the San Diego City Knights Invitational November 14-16th. The Eagles first home game of the season will be on Saturday November 22nd when they host Saddleback College in a 3 pm game.
Sam Williams leads a group of six returning sophomores for this season's MSJC men's basketball team. Williams and the Eagles start their season on Thursday when they travel to Fremont to take on Hartnell College in the first round of the Ohlone Tournament.