Tag Archives: Basketball

Sinclair sports wrap up successful season

From hitting game winning home runs to throwing down tomahawk dunks, it was an exciting year for Sinclair sports. While no team won its ultimate prize of a National Championship, three programs – Men’s baseball, Women’s basketball and Men’s basketball – enjoyed successful seasons that saw their win totals rise from the season before.

Men’s baseball

After finishing one game short of the NJCAA World Series in 2009, the Sinclair Tartan Pride had high hopes for 2010.

The Tartan Pride fought through a slow start when the team dropped four of its first six contests, but Sinclair quickly pulled itself together. The Tartan Pride finished with a record of 42-10, the regular season and postseason OCCAC Conference Champions award, the school’s first national ranking in its history and is sending more than a handful of players to Division I schools in the fall.

Although Sinclair stumbled in the NJCAA Region 12 Tournament, the season will be remembered for some explosive offensive outputs and a few incredible runs that the Tartan Pride put together.

Sinclair coach Steve Dintaman said it best when talking about his hitters.

“This team will kick you in the teeth,” Dintaman said in April.

Dintaman wasn’t lying, as the Tartan Pride offense rolled through opponents up until the regional tournament. Justin Marrero, Byron Johann, Zach Stewart and Corey Throckmorton were just a few who helped spark the high-powered offense throughout the 2010 season.

Sinclair pitching also received a lot of attention as the staff put together a string of 31 consecutive scoreless innings in a five-game span in March.

Being a two-year community college, the Tartan Pride is set to lose the majority of impact players from 2010. But, Dintaman has proven in the past that he is determined to fill the roster with impact players that will help Sinclair reach its ultimate goal: the NJCAA World Series.

Men’s basketball

Expectations were high for the Tartan Pride at the beginning of the 09-10 season. Forward British Alexander returned from a back injury that forced him to miss last season and led the team to a 14-1 start before finishing the season 22-10.

The Tartan Pride were seeded fifth in the OCCAC Tournament where they defeated Owens Community College 67-64, before losing 89-55 to No. 1 seed Cincinnati State Technical and Community College in the second round.

Alexander led the Tartan Pride in scoring at 13.7 points per game and rebounding at 8 per game, earning himself an all-conference selection as First Team All OCCAC. Guard Kevin Vest made the second team, while guard Derek Ober and forward Jason Clardy were honorable mentions.

Off the court, the Tartan Pride participated in several charitable events such as volunteering at the Muscular Dystrophy Association and serving Thanksgiving dinner at the Boys and Girls Club of Dayton.

“Sinclair is a true academic institution,” Coach Jeff Price said in January. “More so than winning ball games, we’re trying to develop good citizens.”

Women’s Basketball

Much like the men’s team, the Lady Pride also started their season strong, winning 12 of their first 15 games before injuries slowed the team down.

Coach Jeff Dillon said injuries to 6-footers Jessica Pierre and Emily Frey forced the team to re-tool midseason. The Lady Pride finished with a 19-10 record and advanced to the second round of the District XII Tournament before being bounced by Grand Rapids Community College.

Guard Chelcie Gullet, the team’s leading scorer, made First Team All OCCAC, while assists leader Jana Gross and top rebounder Emily Frey were honorable mentions.

Dillon said that the highlight of the Lady Pride’s season was a Feb. 20 upset win over then No. 2 Owens Community College.

“Our kids went into that game with a great sense of purpose,” Dillon said in March. “I will never forget the look in some of their eyes.”

Anderson determined to prove critics wrong

Thinking his team just lost a pick-up game at one of Sinclair Community College’s open gyms, former Sinclair basketball star Mark Anderson sits on the gym floor anxious to finally tell his side of the story when teammate Damon Dillard yells, “What are you doing getting interviewed right now, Mark! We’re still playing!”

Anderson gets back up to play and his team proceeds to win four straight games. He still wears the red and white he sported just a year ago when he was an All-American for the Tartan Pride, but it’s no longer a Sinclair uniform. With his eligibility gone, the shorts are Jordan and the shirt is Fruit of the Loom. After going undefeated in seven games Anderson finally sits down to talk. Between losing a scholarship to Miami University and being criticized in the media, it’s been a tough year for the former Sinclair basketball star.

“I just want people to know that I wasn’t as stupid as the media made me out to be,” Anderson said about a May 12 2009 article in the Dayton Daily News that suggested he lost his scholarship due to poor academics. “I don’t get bad grades; I’m not an F student. I never have been and I never will be.”

Hitting some road blocks

Anderson said the real reason he was unable to transfer was because he only had “sixty something” credits instead of the 94 that were required.

“It’s hard to (get 94 credit hours) in two years. When you’re trying to graduate up out of (Sinclair) and go Division I (in two years), you got to take as many (credit) hours as possible,” he said. “If I could go back I would have taken 18 hours max both summers.”

After realizing that Miami was out of the picture, Anderson signed a letter of intent to play for the University of Charleston in West Virginia, but the NCAA caught him by surprise.

“Out of nowhere a new NCAA rule change came in saying that you had to have passed so many (credit) hours during spring quarter because for some reason they don’t count summer as a regular quarter, they count it as extra quarter,” he said. “I was prepared to take and pass as many (classes) as I needed to get down there, but then that rule came out and I was like, ‘Man what am I suppose to do now?’ It was like I hit another road block.”

Not giving up

Feeling frustrated and disappointed that he couldn’t transfer, Anderson said he tried to keep his emotions bottled up inside until someone gave him advice that really hit home.

“I’ll never forget when I was sitting down in the athletic office and there was a tap on my shoulder,” Anderson said. “It was Ms. Peavy. I guess she had just got news about what was going on and she told me, ‘Don’t quit, you’re not going to be considered a failure unless you quit. Move on from this, start fresh and stay focused.’ ”

Inspired by those words along with the support from his family, Anderson said his mindset improved dramatically. Upon the advice of Sinclair basketball coach Jeff Price, Anderson re-enrolled in classes at Sinclair.

“I had got word from coach (Price) that a lot of Division II schools were interested in me and that I needed to just come back (to Sinclair) and take care of a few classes,” he said. “I still had some Division I offers, but with how the NCAA works I would have only had one year of eligibility so I said whatever, I’ll just go to Division II so I can have two years (of eligibility).”

Majoring in Physical Education, Anderson took classes part-time both fall and winter quarters and said his grades were good. With his academics solid, Anderson said he currently has offers from Walsh University, Urbana University, Saginaw Valley State University and Glenville State University. He plans on making a choice on which school he will attend by the middle of spring quarter so he can take summer classes and work out with the team at the school he chooses. Anderson said there’s just one more thing he has to do before he transfers.

“Right now I’ll admit that my game isn’t as sharp as it was because I wasn’t really playing ball much during winter quarter,” Anderson said. “It’s just about getting my timing and my wind back, just the little things like that that go away when you don’t play for a little bit no matter how good you are.”

Anderson said while this last year has been tough, he used it as a learning experience.

“The biggest lesson I learned from all of this is don’t take anything for granted and listen to the ones that are in your circle because they’re not going to steer you wrong. Just know who your real people are that will stick with you no matter what you are going through.”

NBA playoff predictions: journalists versus jocks

With the NBA playoffs already in full swing, the Clarion decided it was time to make some predictions.  But after we looked back at our underwhelming preseason picks, we decided to get some help from a couple guys that actually play the sport. Here is a preview of what we think is going to transpire:

Kevin Vest—2010 Second Team All-OCCAC

Team no one wants to play — Oklahoma City Thunder

I’m picking the Thunder because they’re very young and talented, and with the league’s leading scorer in Kevin Durant anything is possible.

Breakout player — Kevin Durant

Kevin Durant is a proven scorer that will show his winning attitude and leadership ability in the playoffs.

Finals Prediction — Cleveland Cavaliers and Los Angeles Lakers

It’s the matchup that everyone wants to see:  Kobe vs. LeBron.  It would be the most entertaining finals as well as the most likely.

Finals MVP — LeBron James

LeBron can do anything he wants on the court.  He gets his teammates involved early and takes over the game late.  He is also a proven winner.

Joseph Stueve — the Clarion Editor

Team no one wants to play — San Antonio Spurs

Over the last month, the Spurs have knocked off the Lakers, Celtics, Nuggets and Thunder on the road and beat Orlando and Cleveland at home.

Breakout player — Russell Westbrook

Oklahoma City has a tough test ahead against Los Angeles, but Westbrook shouldn’t have a hard time making Lakers point guard Derek Fisher look like an old man.

Finals prediction — Cleveland Cavaliers and San Antonio Spurs

A rematch of the 2007 NBA Finals, Cavs forward LeBron James will get his redemption and his first ring.

Finals MVP — LeBron James

James is an unstoppable force and nothing will stand in the way of him and the Finals MVP award.

British Alexander—2010 First Team All-OCCAC

Team no one wants to play — Dallas Mavericks

The Mavericks have a veteran team full of scorers and athletes. I think that if they get hot no one will stop them.

Breakout player — Carmelo Anthony

I think Anthony will break out because he has that killer instinct and is always looking to score and take over.

Finals Prediction — Cleveland Cavaliers and Dallas Mavericks

Cleveland will win it in six games.

Finals MVP — LeBron James

You can’t go against James if Cleveland makes it to the finals.

Samuel Huist — 6-foot-5 and can’t dunk

Team no one wants to play — Los Angeles Lakers

The Lakers are far and away the most talented team in the playoffs and with Andrew Bynum back their defense should be strong.

Breakout player — Lamarcus Aldridge

With guard Brandon Roy most likely out for the playoffs, the pressure is on Aldridge to pick up his scoring and I don’t think that will be a problem with how the Western Conference plays defense.

Finals Prediction — Orlando Magic and Los Angeles Lakers

I expect a rematch of last year’s finals with the same outcome, Lakers in five. Orlando has no answer for Kobe.

Finals MVP — Kobe Bryant

The best player in the league will continue adding to his legacy with his second straight finals MVP award.

Basketball teams conclude solid seasons

Sinclair Tartan Pride coach Jeff Price and Lady Pride coach Jeff Dillon both made good on preseason predictions that this year’s basketball teams would be better than lasts.

The Tartan Pride finished with a 22-10 record, a three game improvement over last year’s squad, while the Lady Pride finished the season with a 19-10 record, which was nine games better than last season.

Men’s basketball

Nationally ranked in the coach’s poll for three weeks, the Tartan Pride began the season 14-1 before coming back down to Earth during conference play, going 7-7 in the OCCAC.

The Tartan Pride were seeded fifth in the OCCAC tournament, where they defeated Owens Community College 67-64, before losing 89-55 to No. 1 seed Cincinnati State Technical and Community College in the second round.

Looking back, Price said his season highlights were the community service projects his team took part in such as volunteering at the Muscular Dystrophy Association telethon, as well as how his team came together and grew as individuals.

“College coaches are not reinventing the wheel,” Price said. “As coaches we try to work on chemistry and continuity. The special challenge with this year’s team was we only had two players back from last year.”

Those two players were forward British Alexander, who only played a handful of games last year before being medically red-shirted with an injured back, and guard Kevin Vest. Price said two players on the team – guard Damon Dillard and forward Maurice Mendoza – never played high school basketball.

“This season taught me probably just to be a little bit more patient,” Price said. “Our whole group spent the entire year getting to know each other on the court and off.”

Alexander led the Tartan Pride in scoring at 13.7 points per game and rebounding at 8 per game, earning himself an all-conference selection as First Team All-OCCAC. Vest made the second team, while guard Derek Ober and forward Jason Clardy were honorable mentions.

“For the other coaches to give us the respect of voting four of our players’ all-conference was really good,” Price said.

Women’s basketball

Led by sophomores Chelcie Gullet, Jana Gross and Jessica Pierre, the Lady Pride also got off to an impressive start to their season, winning 12 of their first 15 games before injuries slowed the team down.

“This group was extremely talented and molded together very well,” said Lady Pride coach Jeff Dillon. “Things were clicking very well before (center) Jessica Pierre went down with an injury versus Lakeland.”

Dillon said the injury to Pierre and a later injury to forward Emily Frey, both 6-footers, forced the team to re-tool midseason.

Dillon said without a doubt the highlight of the Lady Pride’s season was a Feb. 20 win over No. 2 Owens Community College, 76-74.

“Our kids went into that game with a great sense of purpose,” Dillon said. “I never will forget the look in some of their eyes.”

The Lady Pride finished 8-6 in the OCCAC and crushed Ancilla College 88-40 in the first round of the District XII Tournament before losing 70-54 to Grand Rapids Community College.

Gullett, the team’s leading scorer, made First Team All-OCCAC, while assists leader Jana Gross and top rebounder Emily Frey were honorable mentions.

Both coaches are already busy recruiting for next season’s teams. For the latest information on Sinclair basketball recruits, remember to visit sinclairclarion.com.

The art of blocked shots

In his seven years as head coach of the Sinclair Tartan Pride, Jeff Price said he’s never had a better shot blocker than 6-foot-6 forward British Alexander.

“In his two years here, Brit’s had some pretty impressive blocks,” Price said. “He’s had blocks where he’s blocked it off people’s heads and he’s had blocks where he spiked it down so hard it’s bounced above the basket.”

Alexander said to be a good shot blocker a player must have quickness, athleticism and good timing.

“I guess you got to know how to jump, but it’s mostly about timing,” Alexander said. “You can’t go for a block while it’s still in their hand because most likely you’re going to hit their hand or their wrist and you’ll get a foul called on you.”

Tired of getting called for fouls due to his aggressive style, Tartan Pride center Terence Lang said he studied the way Alexander blocks shots to improve his own game.

“I pay a lot of attention to the way Brit times his blocks,” Lang said. “I was used to just blocking and fouling people, but now I time out who I’m going to block and how I’m going to block it.”

Alexander said since most players release their shot at the peak of their jump, he never jumps until they do and doesn’t go for the block until the ball leaves their hand. Price said blocked shots have a huge impact on basketball games.

“To have a good shot blocker is definitely a game changer because other teams prepare for known shot blockers,” Price said. “Whether a player wants to admit it or not when he gets close to a shot blocker, his shot does change.”

Sinclair does not keep track of all-time blocked shot records, but Price said he imagines Alexander would be top-5 in school history because he’s been nationally ranked both years he’s played. This year Alexander is averaging 2.6 blocks per game, but Price said that number is misleading because Alexander alters an additional five shots per game that don’t make it into the box score.

“You don’t necessarily have to touch a ball to block a shot,” Price said. “You can change the trajectory of a shot and you can change the mindset of a shooter.”

Alexander said one of his favorite blocked shots happened at the University of Dayton Arena when he blocked a shot into the crowd when he was playing for Trotwood Madison High School. Alexander said he can also bait a player into a shot block.

“If I’m chasing somebody I’ll be jogging so when they turn around and look they think they have a wide open lay-up, but once they turn around I speed up and the next thing you know they’re getting their shot blocked,” he said.

Alexander said when the crowd gets loud after a block, it gets him pumped up, but he said blocking shots also comes at a price.

“Down in Cincinnati I went up for a block and my hand got smashed between the ball and the backboard,” Alexander said. “I sprained my middle finger. It’s still swollen now.”

Alexander said he’s never earned a nickname for blocking shots and said he would never taunt a player after a block by waving his finger like former NBA player Dikembe Mutumbo because he said it’s too unsportsmanlike.

“I usually just laugh (when I block a shot). Like if I block somebody and throw (the ball) into the crowd you might see me smile,” Alexander said. “I’m a goofy person. I smile about a lot of stuff, but if I block somebody it’s funny to me because they get mad.”

The others out West

The Los Angeles Lakers and the San Antonio Spurs dominated the NBA’s Western Conference in the 2000s. The two teams combined for nine conference titles over the last 10 seasons.

It’s clear the Spurs are not as strong as in previous years, so the West is open to contenders looking to knock off the defending champion Lakers.

Dallas Mavericks

Outside of the Lakers and Spurs, the Mavericks were the only other team out west to earn a Finals berth. After losing to the Miami Heat in six games, Dallas hasn’t been able to regain its 2006 playoff swagger.

One trade, though, has the Mavs thinking championship when Caron Butler and Brendan Haywood came over from the Washington Wizards before the deadline.

The Mavericks filled two spots in their starting rotation and now match up with the Lakers better than ever.

Denver Nuggets

The Nuggets are familiar with the Lakers in a playoff setting, but not in a good way. Los Angeles has sent Denver packing for two straight years in the playoffs.

Led by Carmelo Anthony and Chauncey Billups, the Nuggets are tough to count out thanks to its high-scoring offense. Denver is second in the NBA in points per game.

Denver hasn’t had difficulty beating the best teams in the league, as the Nuggets are 24-11 against teams .500 or better, as of Feb. 26.

Utah Jazz

Like the Nuggets, the Lakers have disposed of the Jazz for two years running.

The Jazz are an intriguing team. Every year, the talent is undeniable in Utah, but injuries always seem to get the best of the Jazz.

Utah is one of the few teams in the league that can play multiple styles and can match up with just about every team.

The Jazz experienced a ton of problems when playing on the road last season going 15-26. Utah has played well away from home going 14-12, as of Feb. 26.

Deron Williams and Carlos Boozer provide a solid foundation. As long as the Jazz can avoid injuries, they will be players in the West.