By Bruce Campbell, Staff Writer
Enid News and Eagle
ENID, Okla. —
Fans going to NOC Enid’s men’s basketball games might want to get a program.
The Jets return only three players who saw action for last year’s 23-10 team and one of those (guard John Lazenby III) has been slowed by a foot injury, which could put him out for an undisclosed period of time.
NOC Enid has 13 new players, as well as two new assistants — Zach Howe and Drew Bridges.
“We’re going to be a totally different team from what we have had in the past,’’ said Jets head coach Greg Shamburg. “We’re going to be more athletic, we’ll be able to get out more and we can mix up defenses more between the man and zone.’’
The Jets, a year ago, were known for their three-point shooting. This year’s team will shoot the trey “fine’’ but will be able to take advantage of having more size and being more physical, Shamburg said.
“I like our team,’’ Shamburg said. “We’re ahead of where I thought we might be. We virtually started from scratch, but we’re making strides. We know there will be some bumps in the road.’’
The success, Shamburg said, will depend on how the freshmen handle the non-court aspects of the move from high school to college.
“They just have to learn how to play college basketball,’’ he said. “It’s a lot different. You have to stay focused longer (32 to 40 minutes). You are on the road longer. You’re away from home ... this is a pretty good group.’’
Ben Berry, the freshman of the year in the Sooner Athletic Conference at USAO in 2011-12, finally gets to play after sitting out last season with a foot injury.
The 6-foot-4 swing man averaged eight points and six rebounds for the Drovers and shot 39 percent from 3-point range.
“He gives us some maturity which will help with all the young players out there,’’ Shamburg said. “That will make a lot of difference late in the year.’’
Williams, a guard, averaged 4.3 points and dished out 47 assists as a freshman. He shot 37.8 percent from the field and 65.7 percent from the foul line.
“You can tell he’s played before,’’ Shamburg said. “He’s been doing a good job.’’
A number of freshmen should be in the rotation. Shamburg plays up to 10 players on a regular basis.
Joban Crnic, a 6-foot-4 athlete from Hawaii Preparatory School and 5-10 Cornell Neal of Midwest City will share time at point guard. Both may be in there at the same time, Shamburg said.
Crnic, who originally is from Serbia, averaged 18 points, 10 rebounds, six assists, two steals and two blocks per game in earning All-State honors in Hawaii.
Neal led the Bombers to the state finals twice. He avaraged 15 points, five assists, four rebounds and three steals per game.
Daryck Jones, Neal’s backcourt teammate with the Bombers, should be somewhere in the rotation. He averaged 15.7 points, four assists and 2.5 steals.
Freshmen inside players who have stood out so far include 6-6 Corey Alpough of Houston, 6-7 Lucas Morales of Orlando, Fla., 6-6 Josh Palmer of Tulsa Union and 6-5 Jordan Evans of Pearland, Texas.
Alpough averaged 18 points and 12 rebounds as a high school senior. Evans averaged 17 points, 4.2 rebounds and two assists. Palmer averaged 11 points and seven rebounds.
“We have a lot of depth inside,’’ Shamburg said.
Sophomore Deshawn Dean, who saw limited action as a freshman, also is back.
While the Jets don’t have a true shot blocker, they have enough size to be able to change the trajectory of some shots, Shamburg said.
“We’ll contest shots,’’ Shamburg said. “We’ll be a better defensive team and we will be able to shoot the ball well enough.’’
Howe and Bridges replace Ryan Mahoney, who left last summer to join the staff at Allen Community College.
Shamburg said the staff will be able to do more with an additional assistant.
Shamburg said he expects the Jets to contend for the Oklahoma Collegiate Athletic Conference championship. He said it’s difficult to predict junior college basketball in the preseason because of all the new players and coaches. The league will have three new coaches.
NOC Enid opens the season against Northwest Kansas Tech Friday at the Seward Classic. The home opener is Nov. 7 against Cowley College.