By Rob Potter
LOCH SHELDRAKE November 11, 2005 The Sullivan County Community College Generals opened their 2005-2006 basketball season with an 86-48 victory over visiting Berkeley College in a non-conference game Tuesday night at Paul Gerry Fieldhouse.
Following the game, however, SCCC Coach Chris DePew was not smiling.
Well, it was a win, he said matter-of-factly. But for our season opener at home as the top-ranked team in the nation, I really expected us to play much better tonight.
DePews high expectations for the Generals performance going into the contest were based on a number of factors. Among them were the fact that he added several talented players to a team that reached the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) Region XV title game and won its third consecutive Mid-Hudson Conference championship during the 2004-2005 season. In addition, SCCC was ranked number one in the NJCAA Division III mens basketball pre-season poll.
But the Generals got off to a slow start against Berkeley College, which is located in West Paterson, NJ. The Bulldogs blocked three SCCC shots in the opening minutes and grabbed a 6-0 lead with 17 minutes remaining in the first half.
Slowly but surely, however, SCCC (1-0) erased that deficit. With 15:58 left in the half, Kevin Johnson swished a 3-point shot to pull the Generals to within two points, 10-8.
About 25 seconds later, Michael Hines put back a missed free throw to give the Generals their first lead at 11-10.
It was a lead the team would not surrender the rest of the night. Within six minutes, SCCC had a double-digit lead. Freshman forward Jason Johnson grabbed an offensive rebound and immediately put the ball off the glass and into the hoop to make the score 21-10 with 9:30 remaining in the half.
SCCC enjoyed a 44-21 advantage at halftime and led by as many as 38 points in the second half.
Four Generals finished in double figures. Leading the way were preseason All-American Everage Richardson and freshman forward Jason Johnson. Richardson, a sophomore guard, netted 17 points, while Johnson recorded a double-double with 10 points and 14 rebounds.
Donte Harrison scored 14 points and Hines added 13 points.
Sophomore point guard Kevin Johnson finished with eight points and dished out 11 assists.
While DePew was not totally pleased with his teams performance, he was also concerned about the officiating. For example, Richardson was whistled for two technical fouls, one in each half.
With 3:15 left in the first half, the referee called a technical on Richardson when he bounced the ball off the floor after being fouled on a drive to the hoop. With 12:48 remaining in the game, the referee called a technical on Richardson for doing a push-up before getting back to his feet after being knocked to the floor on a hard foul. By rule, Richardson was ejected from the game immediately after being called for his second technical foul.
DePew said he usually does not comment about referees, but said that he was very disappointed with the officiating on Tuesday night. The coach, now in his eighth year at SCCC, said the referee told him that by doing the push-up, Richardson was taunting the opposition.
DePew felt that the second technical on Richardson was a ridiculous call.
Aside from his frustration with the Generals slow start and how the game was called, DePew found a few positives. He noted that Josh Lott, Hines and Jason Johnson all played a great game.
Everage and Kevin Johnson are our bread and butter, but we need other players to step up as well, DePew said. Thankfully, Josh, Michael and Jason all stepped up to the plate tonight so we could get a win.
Despite his teams second loss of the season the Bulldogs lost their season opener 82-56 to host Dutchess Community College on Monday night Berkeley Coach Brian Mahar was fairly pleased with Tuesday nights contest.
We have a young team and being able to stay with the top-ranked team in the opening minutes was great for our confidence, Mahar said. Our center Cliff Destin had a great game. The whole team played with heart and kept competing.
Still, Mahar noted that the Generals did what they needed to in order to earn the victory.
They had the advantage in size, talent and experience, he said. Those are three things you cant afford to give up in a game like this.
Berkeleys leading scorer was forward Glenn Walker, who netted 13 points. Destin and forward Jahlil Shannon each added 10 points for the Bulldogs.
Note: The Generals will play their next two games on the road. They will be at Ulster Community College on Tuesday, November 15 and at Passaic (NJ) Community College on Thursday, Nov. 17.
SCCCs next home game is scheduled for Monday, Nov. 21 versus Manhattan Community College. Tip-off is set for 7:30 p.m.