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TMC men’s basketball preview: Shaped by adversity

Mustangs trying to avoid repeat of last year

Posted: December 10, 2012 1:55 a.m.
Updated: December 10, 2012 1:55 a.m.

The Master's College seniors Leif Karlberg, left and Devin Dyer were two of the team's top scorers last season.

 

The Master’s College men’s basketball team always knew the importance of a quick start — but it learned last year that early success doesn’t guarantee prolonged success.

In 2011-12, the Mustangs had their best start to Golden State Athletic Conference play in school history, beginning the GSAC season 8-3 after a 70-62 victory over Fresno Pacific.

But the TMC squad managed just one win in its next eight GSAC contests, including a 75-67 loss to Biola in the first round of the conference tournament.

“People outside looking in said we folded late,” said TMC head coach Chuck Martin. “We didn’t really fold, we started losing games in a fashion we were winning earlier in the year. Did I think we were playing over our heads up to Jan. 31? I don’t know. We were winning games and we’re good defensively and finding ways to win games.”

The Mustangs are again finding ways to win, opening the season with an 8-3 record entering their winter break.

“Bad experiences and good experiences can define you,” Martin said of the effect last season will have on this year’s team. “Like I said, no one is going to feel sorry for us. We don’t care if anyone feels sorry for us. We return four good players that were starters and our class of five kids that are contributors or potential contributors have a chance to mesh into a very good team.”

This year’s squad, though, is dealing adversity of its own.

Injuries have forced the Mustangs to change things around, and how quickly they adapt will go a long way in determining how their season turns out, with conference play beginning on Jan. 8.

The Mustangs only key graduation loss was guard Anthony Cammon, who averaged 15.2 points per game and was an All-GSAC and NAIA third-team All-American.

Filling that void was supposed to be Monice Garrett, a point guard with the skills to distribute the ball to returning guards Leif Karlberg and Devin Dyer.

But Garrett is out with an injury until at least the Jan. 1, Martin said, and in his absence, Dyer has moved over to lead from the point position.

“What’s going to matter is, ‘Can we adapt and be as good as we were capable of being, but a little different?” Martin said. “You are moving a guy to the point that is absolutely going to score more points and is a fabulous defender. Devin has proven to be tough in our league, at our level. There’s no panic or even concern. We’ve gone to practice every day and just said we have got 10 pretty good players. The key for us is getting better defensively.

Dyer was a spark plug for the Mustangs last season, averaging 10.7 points per game in 2011 while showcasing his ball handling skills and ability to drive the lane.

But shifting to point guard isn’t just something he’s OK with. It’s actually something he’s wanted to try for quite a while.

“It’s something I’ve thought about for a while because of my size as a two guard,” Dyer said. I’m kind of small. My whole college career I’ve wondered why I never thought about playing point guard a little more or if I should try and wondered if the opportunity would ever come about — and it did.”

The team has also picked up another game-changing offensive threat this season in newcomer Jason Logan.

“It’s pretty obvious Logan has been the game effector. He scores it and he rebounds it and we’re noticing he’s very spectacular in the things he does,” Martin said. “If you look at the numbers, he does some of the dirty work too. I think he’s going to be a great defender.”

Logan leads the team with 69 rebounds and 11 steals and is second only to Dyer with 108 points.

“He’s capable of guarding just about anybody that we might encounter in our league,” Martin said. “Him in particular is always going to affect games.”

That’s something that has made Dyer’s transition to the point easier.

“It definitely helps our offense,” Dyer said. “We have more scorers and he is definitely a big help with his ability to get into the lane and his aggressiveness to make his own shot. And if we need something we have several guys who can go to.”

Another of those guys is Karlberg, a sharpshooting guard who led the team with 95 3-pointers last season and scored 11.2 points per game.

A pair of sophomores at the power forward position should help take some of the burden off post players Austin Loeb and Paul Brown in returning player Chris Patureau and transfer Korey Anderson.

Loeb is a newcomer who gives TMC an offensive post threat it hasn’t had in years. In contrast, Brown is a returning defensive threat in the post.

“Loeb has been the best low post threat we have had since I’ve been here,” Martin said. “He is very comfortable with his back to the basket.”

The Mustangs will also look to benefit from their depth with 10 players averaging double-digit minutes so far this season.

Part of that is because of the numerous injuries the team has suffered early in the season.

But it’s also because the team boasts multiple, talented athletes at each position.

“With this team, we haven’t really dwelled on who’s starting and who’s not maybe more with this group than any other,” Martin said. “I haven’t even counted how many different lineups we’ve already started because of the injuries. That’s probably a trend that’s going to continue.”

That depth has allowed the Mustangs to be more aggressive on defense, an area that was a point of concern for TMC early in the season.

The road will once again be tough, with TMC scheduled to play eight teams currently ranked — including a 75-65 loss to NCAA Division II Cal Poly Pomona on Nov. 13.

“The pressure we feel in (the GSAC) is just try to get better,” Martin said. “One thing that won’t happen in this league is people coming back to the pack. Six teams in our league last year were all ranked top 10 in the country at one time or another.”

That included TMC, which was 10th on Jan. 31 before losing six of its last seven in to end the regular season.

The Mustangs remember that well — and they’re determined not to let history repeat itself.

“We have a few returners and we were there last year,” Dyer said. “We know what it was like and we want to prevent that from happening, so we’re really stressing that we shouldn’t get complacent. We might be off to a good start now, but don’t get complacent with where we’re at — keep pushing forward.”

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