The Black Hawk College men's basketball team is ready to make amends for a 2011-12 season that didn't come close to expectations.|
"We're definitely going to win more than nine games," said sophomore Austin Long, referring to last seasons 9-21 mark. "That definitely left a bad taste in our mouths. I think we can compete for the (Arrowhead) conference title, too."
Those in the BHC camp hope that change is in the air.
"Last year was definitely not a year I'm used to," said Orion product Danny DeBacker, also a sophomore. "To only win nine games was tough on me, the team, our sophomores. Hopefully we provide the leadership to win more than nine games. We're definitely capable of that."
Veteran coach Darren Bizarri likes the composition of this year's team and sees a different aura around the program as the two classes are mixing well.
"We've had a good run lately in practices," said Bizarri. "When you string good practices together, you get better as a team. I'm hoping the light came on and that the kids take a step forward and keep building on it."
The Braves may struggle a bit early on. Not only will they will be working a number of talented freshmen into the mix, but they will be without starting front-court standout Jared Kuban for up to six weeks. The Geneseo product strained an MCL knee ligament in a recent scrimmage and is rehabilitating it back to health.
"It's a shame for him. He was really playing well," Bizarri said of Kuban, who was injured when a teammate stepped on his foot. "The game had slowed down for him, he was finishing around the basket, and he had added four inches to his vertical."
Because of that, it will be a different looking BHC team for a few weeks.
"We're going to be a little smaller than the plan was coming into the year," said Bizarri. "But we've got a lot of perimeter guys, and I think we're going to be pretty athletic and active on the perimeter."
One of those youngsters will be taking over the point guard position. Deqwon Horn, who prepped at Chicago's Von Steuben High School, has earned the nod already.
"He's a Public League kid," Bizarri said, noting he feels as if Horn is ready for the spot. "He's always playing fast, but he's never rushed. He's been really good at the point. With continued progress, he could be the best point guard we've had come through here and we've had some pretty good point guard play."
DeBacker and freshman Greg Kent (Chicago) also will see time at the point.
At the off guard will be freshmen Josh Russell, Sheawn Bedford and Heith Beach with Long and a fellow sophomore in Rock Island's DaShawn Banks. Moline's Mike Maffie also could get some playing time.
Bizarri said that Long also could fit in at both forward spots depending on if the team goes big or small, and that it's important for Banks to be productive around the basket.
Davenport West product Cody Cooley will get time on the front line along with Erie freshman Jordan Schaller and Bellevue, Neb., product Kang Char, a hulking 6-foot-9 player.
"I really like the freshmen," said Bizarri. "We've got good skill, some good athleticism, we've got a little size."
It could all lead to a much more successful season than last.
Coaching staff: Darren Bizarri is entering his sixth season with the Braves and sports an 89-66 collegiate record. His assistants are Derek Lindauer, Rod Harper and Dennis Kerscheiter.
Last year: 9-21.
Returning sophomores: DaShawn Banks (5-11, G, Rock Island HS), Cody Cooley (6-8, F, Davenport West HS), Danny DeBacker (6-3, G, Orion HS), Jared Kuban (6-7, C, Geneseo HS), Austin Long (6-5, F, Alleman HS).
Newcomers to watch: Freshmen: Heith Beach (6-4, G/F, Converse, Tex./Judson HS), Sheawn Bedford Jr. (6-2, G/F, Universal City, Tex./Judson HS), Deqwon Horn (5-10, G, Chicago/Von Steuben HS), Greg Kent (5-10, G, Chicago/Richards East), Duol Mayot (6-3, F, Omaha, Neb., eligible second semester), Josh Russell (6-2, G, Thornton HS), Jordan Schaller (6-6, F, Erie HS)
Schedule: NOVEMBER: 6, at DMACC, 7 p.m.; 9, Wilbur Wright, 7 p.m.; 14, at Lincoln, 7 p.m.; 16, Clinton, 6:30 p.m.; 18, McHenry County, 3 p.m.; 20, Kirkwood, 7:30 p.m.; 27, at Augustana JV, 5:15 p.m.; 29, St. Ambrose JV, 6:30 p.m. DECEMBER: 3, St. Ambrose, 6:30 p.m.; 6, Triton, 7 p.m.; 8, at John Wood, 5 p.m.; 10, Augustana JV, 6:30 p.m.; 12, Clinton, 7:30 p.m.; 15, Olive Hardy, 3 p.m. JANUARY: 3, Elgin, 7:30 p.m.; 7, John Wood, 6:30 p.m.; 15, at Kishwaukee*, 7:30 p.m.; 17, Highland*, 7:30 p.m.; 22, Sauk Valley*, 7:30 p.m.; 23, at Black Hawk East*, 7:30 p.m.; 29, Carl Sandburg*, 7:30 p.m.; 31, at Illinois Valley, 7:30 p.m. FEBRUARY: Feb.: 2, at South Suburban, 3 p.m.; 5, Kishwaukee*, 7:30 p.m.; 7, at Highland*, 7 p.m.; 12, at Sauk Valley*, 7:30 p.m.; 14, Black Hawk East*, 7:30 p.m.; 19, at Carl Sandburg*, 7:30 p.m.; 21, Illinois Valley* 7:30 p.m.
Region IV Tournament: Feb. 28-March 9. NJCAA Tournament: March 10-23
* - Arrowhead Conference games
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