The men’s basketball team had a very successful season this year, considering having to deal with a small roster and new coach.
This season was an explosive spin-off from the 2014-2015 season that preceded it. There were many obstacles that the men’s basketball team faced and adapted to, one of which was a new head coach.
Devin Aye started his fourth season as a collegiate basketball coach and first season as head coach at Cosumnes River College this semester after leaving Lassen College. In his first season as the team’s coach, he was proud of the team’s resilience in the face of adversity.
“We lost five guys at [the start of] the semester,” Aye said, “that was due to academics. So we started the season with 13 and we lost five, so we went into the conference with eight, and then we lost another one right before our playoff game.”
Even though the men had operated as a seven man team, Aye expressed his pride in how the team responded to these challenges and played as one unit.
“Six out of the eight were freshmen,” Aye said. “So I think they just had to believe in themselves, and know that it can be done. Because, when you lose such a big part of your team going into a conference play, you can either get down on yourself or you can, you know, step it up.”
The men did, in fact, step it up by accumulating wins in their games leading up to the big eight conference, then finally securing a first place win over Santa Rosa College in the conference to advance into the playoffs.
Freshman center Bakari Bradford, agreed that the unexpected loss of players was unprecedented .
“It was quite a surprise for us,” Bakari said. “We had to step it up, you know, to stay competitive with the other teams who have a full team.”
Freshman guard Trevor Hooper said that in spite of a thinner roster, they were very successful for what they achieved at the end of the season.
Although, in contrast, freshman guard Victor Wariso reiterated that the season didn’t quite end the way they wanted to, but like his team members, thought that it was a fitting ending.
“At the end of the day, I’m just glad to have been a part of this group,” Wariso said, “They helped me grow as a player.”
Some of the players on the team said that rivals dismissed CRC as a competitor and had little hope the team would be competitive.
“We had a bunch of freshmen this year, and we really overachieved, a lot of people didn’t think we’d win the conference, but we’d end up getting it done.” Wariso said.
Even though the team lost in the the first round of playoffs, many players said they learned from this season and were hopeful for next year,including a hopeful Aye, who said he might have to be rehired to the open position.
“I hope I proved myself,” Aye said, “Next year with a full year to recruit, especially coming off a conference championship and having three freshmen be all conference, the expectations are really high. The new recruits will have to understand where those expectations are.”
Aye said that next year, CRC would need to deliver and work harder with the weight of being conference winners.
“They [the freshman] have to understand that, there’s going to be a massive target on our back, that everyone wants to take down CRC,” Aye said.
However, Aye said that the competition wasn’t necessarily a bad thing, but that the incoming team had to be ready for it.
“Obviously that’s a great thing to have, a target on your back, but the new guys, when they come in they have to understand that they’re part of an elite program and everyone’s gunning for us they’re going to try to take us down, and take down CRC, so make sure you’re ready for it,” he said.