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’Stangs went wrong way

The Master’s College lost 12 of last 17 contests

Posted: March 8, 2009 1:56 a.m.
Updated: March 8, 2009 4:55 a.m.

The Master's College guard Ryan Zamroz soars toward the basket for a layup against Hope International on Jan. 17 at Bross Gymnasium in Newhall.

 
On Jan. 6, The Master’s College’s men’s basketball team knocked off NAIA powerhouse Concordia in Irvine in a thrilling 91-86 overtime victory.

Few NAIA teams were hotter.

The Mustangs were 11-3 and cracked the top 25 and gave every indication that recent past mediocrity would be erased.

Fast forward 58 nights to this past Thursday and things couldn’t be any more opposite.

The season was officially over after a 73-66 loss to the same Concordia team.

The Master’s College lost 12 of its last 17 games to finish 16-15.

TMC finished sixth in the conference at 8-12.

Reflecting on the season, head coach Chuck Martin cited a couple of reasons for the turnaround in the wrong direction.

“An inability to guard night in and night out and we ran into teams that were better inside,” Martin said.

Yet The Master’s collapse remains perplexing.

How could a team that defeated NCAA Division I team Pepperdine in an exhibition Nov. 7, Division II Cal State Dominguez Hills and Cal Poly Pomona and the top three teams in the Golden State Athletic Conference falter down the stretch?

Martin said he knew the team’s deficiencies would catch up with it down the stretch.

As the season closed, TMC tried to fight through.

A victory over GSAC regular-season champion Fresno Pacific in the regular season finale March 2, though, showed that the Mustangs may have had some life remaining.

But Thursday’s loss was symbolic of the final stretch.

The Master’s gave up too many second-chance points and didn’t have enough in the tank to upset Concordia again.

Martin points back to the beginning of the season when things started to go awry for the Mustangs.

Raphael Harris, a 6-foot-7-inch forward, had to quit after one game due to personal issues.

Junior guard Jenero Jefferson later quit.

The final blow came Jan. 3, when stat-stuffing swingman Dean Hadley tore cartilage in his knee.

He tried to play through it, but missed the team’s final nine games.

Thus, Ryan Zamroz, recently named an All-GSAC guard, had to carry a heavier burden.

In the first five games without Hadley, Zamroz, who averaged a team-high 18.9 points per game, made just 22-of-69 shots.

Senior center Matt Sowa led the team in rebounding at 6.8 per game and blocks at 1.2 per contest, but both numbers were not elite in conference.

His rebounding average was 10th and blocks were sixth.

This gives Martin an idea of what kind of players are needed at TMC going forward.

Martin will also have to replace Jeremy Haggerty’s 14.4 points per game.

But the third-year head coach said he has many challenges in recruiting.

One of the biggest challenges is the type of player he can recruit.

“We’ve got to get kids here that fit in The Master’s environment and win games in the GSAC,” Martin said. “Quite frankly, not very many have been good fits. It’s an environment that’s strictly Christian.”

Martin said there are requirements for kids who want to attend The Master’s, basketball player or not.

One large requirement is that a kid must be Christian and show that he/she is in the application process.

Martin has to bypass some players because of the requirement.

“I think my frustration sometimes is that I can get involved recruiting a disciplined kid, a good kid, but I can’t recruit him because he’s not a Christian kid,” Martin said.

The coach added that some of his conference opponents that are also religious school are more lax on their religious requirements.

Nonetheless, The Master’s nabbed one solid player in Temecula Valley high’s Devin Dyer, a sharpshooting guard who scored 22.6 points per game this season.

That doesn’t address the absence of a big body down low, but Martin said he’s looking.

cosborne@the-signal.com

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