The men’s basketball team is already off to a tremendous start at the beginning of the fall 2012 season, posting a record of 4-1 and a winning margin of just over 28 points.
“This year is different from last year because we are hungry. Last season left a real bad taste in our mouths. We need to be more prepared and strong minded. We’ve been working long and hard to step our game and take it to that next level,” says sophomore standout, Cortrell King.
Last semester, the Sharks had a successful season holding a 13-11 overall record for the regular season. Their final game of the season was against a familiar opponent in Nassau Community College. The Sharks defeated Nassau twice during the season, a win on December 22 (83-75), and again on February 16 in overtime (92-90). Less than a month later, the two teams faced off again in the playoffs as the Sharks held the number four overall seed in their tournament. They were dominated in the game on March 2, with a final score of 90-45. This is the cause of much hunger for the newly equipped Sharks.
“Last season we had a good overall season, but it was extremely overwhelming. We had many first year players who were not use to the intensity of the college game. There is a big difference between the regular season and the playoffs. Nassau had a veteran team and took advantage,” said Head Coach Victor Correa.
Though, this season so far has been different for the team. They have defeated Kingsborough, Queens’s borough, Ulster, and Dutchess County Community Colleges by 28.5 points per game. Their defense has been impeccable so far this season, limiting their opponents to 48 points per game.
“One of our goals is to just keep it day by day and play our game. We need to let the game come to us, and we need play team ball and great defense,” said King.
The biggest task for the team so far this season has been the chemistry. The team only has two returning players which are eligible to play this semester. Point guard, Nick Gallina is the other returning player for the Sharks. This season, he has leaded the team in assists, and has had multiple games of double digits in assists.
“We need to just keep playing together. Eventually the chemistry will come to us. We don’t have as much chemistry, but I believe we have even more talent. We are a deep team and everyone just steps up their game to that next level. We are talented enough this season to accomplish any of our goals. If we can get it all together, play our basketball, play hard defense, and compete to the best of our ability we will do great,” said Gallina.
A bright spot so far on the season for the Sharks has been their bench play. Freshman Brandon Smith is one of rising stars on the team. Before the season officially started, Smith was in a car accident which set him back. However, with a double-double in two of the last three games, this young man has also stepped up his game.
“I had to get back into the flow of the game. It took me a little bit, but I am finally getting it back. The most important part is to play good defense and focus in on each one of our opponents,” said Smith.
Another aspect the team is especially grateful for is its size. They are able to play more one on one, or man defense. A direct correlation between the defense, and their size, is the rebounding which is another strong suit for the team so for this season. The Sharks have a lengthy team led by Cortrell King, Brandon Smith, and Chris Milender.
“We have size for the first time in a while. We have Brandon Smith, who is a hard working guard that has great potential. He is a great player to put in for Gallina, so he doesn’t have to run the team the entire game. Most teams have a rotation of seven or eight guys, where I have 11. We are very deep this season on the bench. When one guy comes out, we don’t miss a beat by putting in a bench player. This will help us later in the season, when most teams will be playing their starting five for most of the game,” Coach Correa said.
The team is on a quest for its first National title since the 2003-2004 seasons, where the Sharks stunned the nation in an 83-81 victory in overtime against Eastfield College (TX). Coach Correa is now entering his third season as Head Coach, after being promoted from Assistant Coach, which he held for five years.
The next couple of games will be tough for the Sharks as they play the Bronx, Sullivan, and common foe Nassau Community College. Their next game will be Thursday, December 6, at Bronx Community College. The next home game for the Sharks at the Grant campus will be played this upcoming Saturday, December 8, at 2 P.M. against Rockland Community College.