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On the Path

Democrat Photo by Rob Potter

GENERALS JAMAL RAPHAEL, left, Kevin Johnson (32) and Everage Richardson (34) surround a Berkeley (NJ) College player as he attempts to put up a shot in SCCC’s first game of the 2004-2005 season.

To NJCAA Glory

By Ted Waddell
LOCH SHELDRAKE — November 26, 2004 – Chris DePew, Sullivan County Community College Athletic Director and head coach of the school’s men’s basketball team, is a familiar face around town. But except for a couple of returning sophomores, his cadre of freshmen hoopsters are new kids on the block.
“Last year’s team was strictly sophomore-based,” said DePew, reflecting back on the squad that posted a 26-6 overall record during the 2003-2004 season.
“We didn’t have a lot of depth, and I had to rely on them playing a lot of minutes… the sophomores had been to a regional championship [the previous season], had experience and understood the system,” he added.
DePew said the 2004-2005 Generals have their own team identity. Of the 13 freshmen who are listed on the team’s roster, 11 of them are suiting up for games as of press time.
“It’s a new experience, brand new kids learning a new system,” he said. “We’re young, but we’re very talented… once they start to jell and learn each other’s games, I think this is going to be a special group.”
DePew said that if his band of freshmen sticks together for a couple of years while wrapping up their studies and learning his brand of hoops, “they’re going to make a lot of people very happy.”
So far, the Generals are pleasing their coaches and fans. After an 84-54 win over Bronx Community College on Saturday night, SCCC is a perfect 4-0 on the season.
Leading the team to victory over Bronx CC were sophomore guard Greg Johnson and freshman forward Antoine Williams. Johnson scored a team-high 21 points and Williams netted 17 on the evening.
The Generals’ coach said he fully expects this squad to qualify for the 2005 National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) Region XV Championships, which will be held on Saturday and Sunday March 5 and 6 at Westchester Community College in Valhalla.
“I’m sure we’re going to have some bumps along the road,” DePew said.
As a case in point, DePew cited last Thursday night’s 83-80 victory over the Passaic (NJ) Panthers as a demonstration of the composure and team unity of the Generals. After the opposition took a lead in the first frame and came charging back in the second half, the Generals didn’t let a Panthers’ comeback rattle their resolve to win.
“These guys understand that things happen and that other teams go on runs,” he said. “We just need to adapt and move on.”
DePew said that with last year’s team, there would have “been a lot of yelling and finger pointing.” But the Generals of 2004-05 are a lot different when it comes to dealing with pressure.
“For these guys, it’s all about ‘let’s get the ball and go,’” he said. “They’re young, but they’re hungry and want to win.”
The only sophomores suiting up this year are Ghiles Jackson, Greg Johnson and Greg Primus.
(Jon Bentley, a returning sophomore, called it quits at halftime of Thursday night’s game after he “caught a flagrant technical,” was benched by DePew and then had a few words with the coach.)
The Generals’ tri-captains for the season are Jon Frasier, Jackson and Primus.
Of the 15-man roster, a dozen players, or 80 percent, clear the 6-foot mark, with Frasier and Jamal Raphael earning the tallest player honors at 6 feet 6 inches.
At press time, the “Five Freshmen” starters are Kevin Johnson, Greg Johnson, Antoine Williams, Frasier and Raphael.
“I think Kevin Johnson is our best shooter, and Greg Johnson and Kelvin Nelson are probably our best all-around players,” DePew said.
“We are extremely deep, and I have nine guys who would start on any other team,” he added.
DePew said a lot of his players are giving up their time on the fast track for the good of the team.
“They are sacrificing some minutes and points to better our chances at making it to the nationals,” he said.
The Generals coach said he views the two-time defending NJCAA Division III national champion Suffolk County Community College at Selden Clippers as the Generals’ arch rival. Suffolk-Selden amassed a perfect 34-0 record last season. In the past two years, they have only been defeated once, and that was at the hands of SCCC.
The Generals are scheduled to square off against Suffolk-Selden on Saturday, January 29, “Down in the Bunker” at Paul Gerry Fieldhouse.
“Our kids have that date circled on their calenders,” DePew commented.
The 2004-05 season of hoops is DePew’s seventh overall at SCCC, his fourth as AD and third as head coach of the Generals. He is assisted by Troy Nowlin (2nd year) and Kevin Hanlon (1st year).
So what’s DePew’s system?
“My theory and system of basketball is 94 feet of in-your-face basketball,” he said. “We press for the entire game, we like to get out and go.
“We’re a running, gunning program,” he added. “I like exciting basketball, and that makes us a dangerous team.”
See more about the 2004-2005 SCCC Generals in Tuesday’s issue.

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