MJC Hoop Preview: Men looking for a clean slate

ragostini@modbee.comNovember 12, 2013 

  • 2013-14 MJC Men’s Basketball

    #NamePositionHt.YearHigh School/Hometown
    1Eric MelgarG5-7Fr.Sierra/Manteca
    3Edwin CastellanosG5-9Fr.Davis/Modesto
    4Julius DixonG6-0Fr.Downey/Modesto
    5Joel RubleG6-0Fr.Clovis/West
    10Keegan SanchezG6-0Fr.Patterson/Patterson
    11Zach GonzalesG6-2Fr.Riverbank/Riverbank
    12Kaden JohnsonG6-3So.Enochs/Modesto
    21 Blake TerryG6-2Fr.Waterford/Waterford
    23Blake HouserG6-3Fr.Downey/Modesto
    24Josh AllenF6-7Fr.Downey/Modesto
    32Anthony HubbardG6-3So.Turlock/Turlock
    33Evan GrimesG6-2So.Antioch/Antioch
    42Joe CrankF6-5Fr.Smithville, Texas/Salida

The 13-man Modesto Junior College roster represents a new start to the program.

How do we know that? Here’s a clue: The Pirates totaled 2,106 points in 2012-13. Only two players are back, and they combined for only 232 of those points.

Yes, MJC hoops is turning the page.

“I felt we underachieved last year,” said Paul Brogan, who begins his 13th season as head coach. “It brought us back to recruiting the right type of player – kids who love basketball and will forgo individual accomplishment to win games and want to be coached.”

MJC tips off the season Friday at 2 p.m. against Feather River in the first round of the ninth Fresno City Tipoff Tournament. Brogan and assistant Mike Williams can’t wait to officially set aside the Pirates’ 12-16 performance last season (4-10 for seventh place in the Big 8 Conference).

Evan Grimes (8.3 points per game), an attacking wing, returns and is expected to start. Kaden Johnson (1.2 ppg), a sophomore reserve, also is back. But that’s all. Gone are Tashawn Mabry, Mike Hill, Brenden Evans, Ricky Inderbitzin and the rest of last year’s team.

Brogan hoped MJC had changed course after its 18-12 campaign in 2012, the Pirates’ first winning season and first playoff berth since 2007. Instead, the Pirates regressed.

The reboot begins with freshmen such as point guard Eric Melgar, a sharpshooter from Sierra High, 6-2 guard Zach Gonzales out of Riverbank, 6-3 West Valley transfer Anthony Hubbard from Turlock, 6-7 Downey graduate Josh Allen and Grimes. Hubbard made the all-freshman team in the Coast Conference.

“All five starters can hit 3-pointers,” Brogan said. “We’re going back to a dribble-drive offense that we used during our winning seasons. We had some success with that late last year.”

Others expected to make contributions are guards Keegan Sanchez, Edwin Castellanos, Blake Terry (the grandson of former record-setting Stanford star Claude Terry), Joel Ruble, Blake Houser, Joe Crank and Julius Dixon. The 6-5 Crank, raised in Salida, has bounced back after he spent his high school years in Texas.

Modesto will lack the power of previous teams. Only Allen stands taller than 6-5. But Brogan seeks a more sustained effort regardless of height or rebounding strength.

“This team reminds me of our good teams when we were deep and played defense and scrapped,” he said. “They can put the ball in the basket, and they work extremely hard at both ends. We haven’t had that in a while. I don’t know how many wins we’ll have, but we will reach our full potential.”

Bee staff writer Ron Agostini can be reached at ragostini@modbee.com or (209) 578-2302. Follow him on Twitter @ModBeeSports

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