Riverside basketball is on again

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By Fred McCarthy

By Fred McCarthy

After falling a game short of making the state finals tournament, the Riverside City College men’s basketball team continues its quest to rebound from last season.


The Tigers finished last season with a record of 23-7 but lost in their final game of the year at home, against Saddleback College, in overtime, 73-69.


The loss came in the regional finals, sending Saddleback to state instead of the Tigers. The season before Riverside had defeated Saddleback in the state championship game.


This season could easily setup another meeting with Saddleback in regional or in the state championships, apart from the two regular season meetings that will take place during the season.


With six returning players this season the Tigers have a few veteran players on a young team, but still have high expectations. Over the course of the season coach John Smith hopes for the team to continue to improve in all aspects of their game, and to have it all figured it out by the time conference games roll around.


“This year’s team is young, but no different from any other team in terms of what is expected from them. We have a lot to improve on but our main goal is to be clicking on all cylinders by the middle of conference and building towards the playoffs,” Smith said.


The start of any season can always be challenging. The Tigers dropped their opening game against DeAnza College 72-68, in the San Jose City tournament.

Those tough losses leave the coaching staff with a tough job to figure out what needs to be done to make the team better.


“We are trying to focus on our timing offensively and rotations defensively, when we get those two points of emphasis down, we should be hard to beat,” Smith said.


Early in the season it can be difficult to find out which players play well with each other, and that is something that Smith is trying to figure out along with how long players can be on the court before tiring.


Since the opening loss the Tigers have bounced back with two wins in the San Jose City Tip-off to win the consolation title, and a win against Miramar to improve their record to 3-1.


The team had some time to rest with the Thanksgiving break before the season continued. The Tigers are set to appear in four more tournaments before the start of conference games beginning on Jan. 5 with Saddleback.


With the remodeling of Wheelock Gym the Tigers will only have six home games in conference play. Five will be played at North High School, with the last game of the season against Orange Coast being played at Huntley Gym on Feb. 18.


That game against Saddleback in the regional finals was also the final game to be played in Wheelock Gym before the remodel began in July. The newly remodel gym is scheduled to be finished around August of 2011.


Smith remains very confident that the team can continue the success of previous seasons, and have a very successful season.


“We feel if our players compete at the highest level and pay attention to the details of preparing game to game, then we should give ourselves a chance to win every time we step on the court,” he said.

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