Entering the season with a new head coach and only six returning players, the Glendale Community College men’s basketball team had goals of getting the program back to respectability with six freshman joining the roster.
Midway through the 2017-18 season, the team is ahead of schedule as they get near .500 with major improvements showing the growth of the team.
Guy Meyer, who took over this season as head coach, knew he had to get the team to buy into his goals.
“My expectations have been for our guys to embrace practicing hard, improving habits and transferring that over to game and competitive situations,” said Meyer. “I think it has been a battle every day, but the guys are learning.”
Meyer was hired by GCC after spending time at both division one universities in New Mexico, most recently as a member of the University of New Mexico as video coordinator/director of scouting. Hired there in April, Meyer would coordinate summer camps during his short time in Albuquerque. Meyer oversaw academics, community service, player well-being, meals, travel, and opponent scouting and preparation. He was also a five years assistant coach/associate head coach at Cochise College in Douglas, AZ. He graduated from Fort Lewis College in in 2007 with a bachelor’s degree in communications then earned his Master’s in sports & health administration from New Mexico Highlands University in 2011.
Through 13 games, the Gauchos have built a 6-7 record but Meyer sees major improvements on and off the court.
“They have done well in battling,” said Meyer. “If you are involved in college athletics at any level, you are being judged on winning and losing game so with our record at (6-7), I would say we have done average. But I also think that our guys have improved habits and become much better players since August.”
They opened the season winning one of three games at the College of the Desert Tournament in California with a 77-67 victory over Compton College Nov. 3. They won three straight, before dropping five of their last seven games (as of Jan. 3).
Meyer said his one worry early in the season is the lack of one player stepping up to take control of the team.
“My biggest disappointment from my squad is the fact that we haven’t had someone step up and take the leadership role,” said Meyer.
Returning sophomores Darren Lujan, Tre Newman, Dom Bradley, Kireed Johnson and Micah Rentrope have led the Gauchos early on this season. Bradley is leading the offense averaging 15.7 points, 52.7 shooting percentage, 10.3 rebounds and 1.7 blocks per game.
“Bradley has done a good job of leading through hard work and proper actions,” said Meyer. “We have yet to have a player step up and lead us vocally, emotionally and psychologically and that is what we are looking for right now.”
Lujan (averaging 15.2 points per game), Newman (14.1) Johnson (13.0) and Rentrope (9.4) have led the Gauchos to an average of 83.3 points per game which ranks tenth (out of 10) in the Arizona Community College Athletic Conference this season.
“We were just talking about this yesterday, we are last in offensive rebounding and if we can get rebounds defensively and get back and not give up transition baskets, we will be in every game,” said Meyer.
Meyer added that they need to get more production from the freshman and people coming off the bench to improve in the second half. Freshman Trayceon Graves has been the top scorer of the newcomers, but is only averaging 3.5 points in 11 games and an average of just short of four minutes a game.
With 15 games remaining, including five against nationally ranked teams, the Gauchos will continue to battle for a chance to continue to build for future success on the court.