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TMC's Joey Fuca: Understanding the point

Mustangs point guard has learned much since his freshman year and is excelling as starter

Posted: November 29, 2009 11:03 p.m.
Updated: November 30, 2009 4:55 a.m.

The Master's College junior point guard Joey Fuca had some big shoes to fill heading into the 2009-10 season. So far, he's handled himself well and given the Mustangs leadership and an excellent skill set.

 
The Master’s College point guard Joey Fuca had some soul-searching to do over the summer.

Ryan Zamroz, one of the best scorers in program history, had just graduated, and the team was facing several questions.

The biggest one — How are the Mustangs going to hit their goal of a top-three finish in the Golden State Athletic Conference after a 16-15 season and the loss of a leader?

Fuca knew the answer. He would have to take control of the reins.

And he has responded in kind.

Five games into the season TMC is 4-1, and the junior floor general is the unquestioned leader of the charge.

“He’s a big part of our offense. He’s not just a player that can score. He creates, he sees the court well and distributes,” says senior forward Thomas Millar. “He’s the quintessential point guard. He doesn’t just have the skill set, but the leadership abilities. Not just being vocal but doing what it takes and leading by example.”

TMC head coach Chuck Martin says Fuca’s transition to a leadership role has been integral in each of his team’s four wins.

Due to injury, Fuca and several other key players sat out of the team’s lone loss, a 75-47 blowout against last year’s NCAA Division II national runner-up Cal Poly Pomona on Nov. 24.

But the team quickly bounced back with a 57-46 win in its most recent game at Bross Gym on Saturday against Montana Tech. Fuca led the charge in scoring, rebounding and distribution with 16 points, eight boards and six assists.

“The success of any basketball team is dependent on the quality of its point guard play,” Martin says. “So far this year, he’s been the perfect player. Obviously, he went though difficulties last year realizing what you do have to do to be a leader. His ability to handle that role has had a lot to do with the success of the team this year.”

Fuca says his game has progressed significantly since his freshman year. A coach’s kid, Fuca was always fundamentally sound, but he had trouble at first adjusting to the pace of the college game.

“Nervous. Kind of scared. I was real tentative,” Fuca says, describing his initial reaction to basketball after high school. “I didn’t really know what college basketball was all about. I was just kind of playing hard on defense and distributing the ball.”

Fuca had played against collegiate-level talent with on his dad’s Bay Area Amateur Athletic Union team, which is named “The Lake Show” in honor of the Lakers.

But it wasn’t the same.

“My first game we played was against Robert Morris at a tournament in Las Vegas. They were really athletic,” Fuca says. “I was kind of riled. … I couldn’t do a lot of the things I used to be able to get away with in high school, and a lot of the same moves I used to do didn’t work anymore.”

Fuca says he used a program called “Leap Frog” to work on his vertical. He gleaned what he could from Zamroz and Eric Durso, who was a senior guard during Fuca’s freshman year.

He worked tirelessly with Martin and assistant coach Chris Connolly on bringing his game up to speed.

It was necessary work, as he knew he may be called on to score early and often this year.

The results have been pretty eye-opening. Fuca increased his scoring average from 7.9 points per game last year to 22 this season, which is good for fifth nationally according to the NAIA Web site.

“I’m normally a pass-first, score-second guy, but that’s kind of flip-flopped this season,” he says. Fuca added that the midseason return of Dean Hadley, the team’s top returning scorer, will probably change that number a little.

Yet Fuca doesn’t care if he’s passing or scoring.

He just wants to win.

He also wants the opportunity to play, and those were the main reasons he chose to be a Mustang, Fuca says candidly.

“I wanted to do something special at The Master’s and I thought coach Martin was the guy to do it with. Since we’ve joined the GSAC we haven’t been in the top tier, but we’ve always played pretty tough,” Fuca says. “But we haven’t made it to the next level and that’s why I came here. I wanted to see if we could get something going.”

The Mustangs’ next matchup is Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. against Azusa Pacific at Azusa.

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