Men’s basketball prepares for the first games in a year and a half

The 2021-2022 men’s basketball team hold wall squats after running sprints during practice on Sept. 14 at City College in Santa Barbara, Calif. There are only two returning sophomores on the team this season.

Jenna McMahon, Staff Writer

City College’s men’s basketball team is returning to the court after not playing for about a year and a half.

Their first game experience is going to be this weekend, Sept. 17-18, in the Southern California Fall Juco Jamboree in Irvine. They will be one of 54 teams participating.

“It gives us an opportunity to see our guys in action and get them on film so we can use it as a teaching tool. Instead of just playing each other every day for ten weeks, we get to play other competition,” said Head Coach Devin Engebretsen.

The coaching staff and the team feel as if they have a lot of potential for the upcoming season with only two returning sophomores from the COVID-19 season and the rest freshmen.

“With this group, we are really excited,” Engebretsen said. “We have a lot of diverse players in terms of talent and skill.”

He said the team has really good guard play, noting the outside players are “exceptionally strong.”

”They all work very well together and have fun playing,” Engebretsen said. “We think we’ve got some really special players here.”

From an offensive standpoint, Engebretsen has been emphasizing sharing the ball, playing together and attacking the rim.

“You are never more open than you will be when you first catch it,” Engebretsen said. “We are training these guys to be ready to catch and shoot when they get it and also to attack.” 

This is Engebretsen’s first event as head coach. He has been doing everything he can to prepare the team for the tournament.

“I think that we have not had a program like this in a very long time for City College,” said Head Assistant Coach Keani Albanez. “The boys are invested, they’re positive, they’re encouraging [and] we’re encouraging them as well. I think that only positive things can come from that.”

Not only is this weekend a chance for the team to get experience with games, but also allows them to work on their personal goals and team goals, so they can work better together. 

“I’m looking to get looks [from universities] and also help everybody on my team succeed not only just for myself,” sophomore Wilfrid Nado said. “But [I] also want to help my team grow and really show that we’re a different team than we were a couple years ago — really prove that we’re a new team and program.”

Beyond performances on the court, Engebretsen said he is encouraged by his team and how the leaders have focused on getting together and spending time with each other outside of practice.

“We’ve been bonding a lot, playing basketball like open gym and just hanging out as a team, going to get food or something or shopping,” Nado said.

With a new coaching staff and a young roster, the team has put in work on and off the court to make sure they’re going the extra mile to make this a memorable season.

“I think our coach put in some good sets, got us moving around, he really knows what he’s doing. So I think we should go in there and go 4-0,” sophomore Brycyn Gossett said.