The Pride seems to be following the same formula that led them a conference championship last season.
The 2007-08 season started slowly for Sinclair with early season losses to Miami University-Middletown and the University of North Carolina JV. Another slow start might spring the Pride for another run at the conference title.
“I think we’re getting better,” says first year assistant coach Herb Shaughnessy. “If we can get our defense to be a little more consistent I think we have a real good shot at the conference.”
Last season, head coach Jeff Price led his team to an 11-3 record in the Ohio Community College Athletic Association. Sinclair’s OCCAC games begin Jan. 10 at home against Lakeland Community College.
“We start out with Lakeland, who is typically one of the better teams in the conference,” says Price. “They’re very athletic. They’re a little bit like what our team is this year.”
Price says that the first five games of conference play will be the most important to the Pride’s success.
“You could shoot your self in the foot real quick,” says Price. “It’s a 14 game sprint. There is not a place where you can take a breath.”
Injuries have plagued the Pride
Freshman guard Kevin Vest missed the first three games of the season due to a shoulder injury. He returned on Nov. 15 for the highly anticipated match with Mott Community College, scoring 12 points and grabbing six rebounds in a losing effort.
Sophomore forward British Alexander’s inside presence will be missed because of a season-ending back injury and sophomore guard D.J. Johnson is also finished for the year after separating his shoulder.
“He was our best defender,” Price says of Johnson. “He could defend the point guards, he could defend the post. He was our all-around guy.”
Pride assistant coach Marcus Stewart has faith in the Pride’s inside depth.
“I don’t think it will affect us that much,” says Stewart. “We have guys ready to step in. We’re very strong in those areas.”
Losing Alexander has pushed centers Rod Benton and Kenny Lee into more prominent roles.
The 2007-08 Pride ended their season in the Region XII District 7 Finals, losing to Columbus State Community College.
“That [loss] is still sitting in a lot of the guys minds,” says Price.
Sinclair travels to Columbus State on Jan. 14 in an OCCAC match between the top two teams in the conference from last season.
After leading the country in scoring last season, preseason All-American forward Mark Anderson continues to abuse the bottom of the net and sophomore guard Jonathon Tate has progressed into more of a leader on the team.
“He’s getting rid of some of those independent thoughts,” says Price of Tate. “That process for him has become very vital to his progression. He’s very talented.”
The Pride will have a tough road to walk if they want to achieve their ultimate goal.
“Through the course of the year you’re going to have ups and downs,” says Price. “It’s going to be tough, but we should be alright.”