Sunday, January 10, 2010

A junior college game we saw earlier this week

It wasn't a league game so to speak as City College of San Francisco (CCSF) is a member of the of the Coast Conference North Division while Cabrillo College (near Santa Cruz) also resides in the Coast Conference albeit in the South Division. Neither team plays each other once conference action begins, sticking to opponents within their respective divisions. The visiting Rams, laden with former Bay Area prep talents, arrived 14-1 and #1 in the coach's poll as the state of California's top-ranked team.

Host Cabrillo began the game 6-6. So how did the Seahawks manage to earn a 29-24 halftime lead?

If called upon, CCSF Coach Justin Labaugh would likely offer a few reasons. However, it was apparent to observers that the Rams were not playing to their respective strengths in this speed and quickness (CCSF) versus brawn and beef (Cabrillo) matchup. The Seahawks physically took it to Labaugh's group in the initial 20 minutes, making it a linebacker meets ballet dancer half.

Labaugh's message during the intermission must have been along the lines of "go to work."

That's because it was a different story in the second half. At the 15:45 mark, CCSF had edged ahead 39-34. With 10:35 on the clock, Cabrillo was hanging in there, down by just seven at 50-43. After that, there was no looking back for the Rams as 6-foot-5-ers Da'Ron Sims and Bennie Rhodes asserted themselves -- Sims finally introducing his athletic physicality and Rhodes dribble-driving past defenders. The defensive intensity of Labaugh's bunch was also notably higher.

The game ended 73-60 in favor of CCSF but with the outcome known for some time.

Previous reports had indicated CCSF was quite the offensive machine, slicing and dicing for dribble-drive shots, racing down the court after nabbing rebounds and displaying a must-go-out-and-defend degree of shooting range.

Well, the first half contained its share of bricklaying on the part of the Rams, especially with most outside the paint shooting efforts as the ball made thud, thunk and swish (of air, not net) sounds more often than not. Such was not all that much improved in the second 20 minutes but the CCSF collective quit taking them and played to its strengths.

So in a one game observation, what did the players with Bay Area prep connections display?

Da'Ron Sims (McClymonds) - excellent hops and maneuverability inside, limited shooting range, with a Big Sky Conference or so level destination awaiting him at the next level

Jonathan Williams (Kennedy) - the Cabrillo defenders seemed to forget he was a lefty, has a solid D-1 body but no standout skills

Deend Parker (Lincoln) - he possesses the size to play both the wing and in the backcourt at 6-foot-5 and another year of seasoning should be able to get him to a Big West-type team -- higher if he can play the point at the next level

Calvin Douglas (Antioch) - a solid defender and also the only Ram to put down an open 20-footer -- his next level will be decided on what coaches see as his top skill and how solid does he performs it

Bennie Rhodes (Castlemont) - didn't show much on shooting range tonight but was able to dribble-drive around the Cabrillo defenders and either score or get fouled, a very good athlete but a seemingly slight body

Steven Brown (Palo Alto) - he gave a strong defensive effort but didn't display an offensive repertoire, at least in this matchup

Daryl Cooper (Sacred Heart Cathedral) - solid ballhandler and defender but not a creator

Summary: the CCSF roster is chock full of physical ability but the question after tonight is what top skill does each possess and how well and consistently does he perform it looking at the next level? No go-to players for the next level were on display, much more a bunch of complementary, unselfish types.

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