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Democrat Photo by Ted Waddell

SCCC COACH CHRIS DePew makes a point to his players during a timeout at a recent game.

A Varied Season

By Ted Waddell
LOCH SHELDRAKE — December 13, 2005 – The Sullivan County Community College Generals have had a very interesting beginning to their 2005-2006 basketball season.
At the start of the season, the Generals won their first game against Berkeley 86-48, followed by a couple of close losses to Ulster Community College (69-68) and Passaic (62-60), which at the time was the second-ranked team on the country.
SCCC then ripped off six consecutive wins: Manhattan CC (75-71), Genesse CC (79-68), Niagara CC (69-65), Dutchess CC (96-69), Westchester CC (82-63) and a forfeit in the December 6 game against the Bronx Community College Broncos, when the bus driver missed a turn and was about an hour from the Canadian border when he called SCCC Coach Chris DePew to ask for directions.
Then this past Saturday, the Generals suffered their first home-court loss at Paul Gerry Fieldhouse in more than two seasons. SUNY Orange overcame a double-digit deficit in the second half to top SCCC, 71-64.
SCCC took a 7-3 record into last night’s game at Rockland Community College.
The Generals were the number one-ranked team in the nation in the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) Division III preseason poll.
However, after losing three of its first 10 games, SCCC has dropped out of the NJCAA Div. III poll.
On top of the early-season losses and falling out of the Div. III poll, the Generals players and coaching staff didn’t know if DePew was going to have to order new business cards until the first day of classes.
Last spring, the buzz on the street was that the SCCC administration gave DePew, who was serving as both athletic director and head coach of the men’s basketball program, a choice. He was asked to pick one job or the other – but not both.
“I prepared for the season half- hoping, half-guessing that I would be the coach and in a position to lead the team, but as athletic director, how could I bring in a coach this late, and how’s that going to effect the team,” DePew recalled.
“It was tough, I probably put my family through hell dealing with it all summer,” he added.
“I had to prepare for both things, and I had a lot of kids who were just waiting on the other end of the phone...‘Yes, come’ or “No, it’s a no-go’.,” DePew said. “A lot of kids weren’t going to come back and a lot of the new recruits weren’t going to come if I wasn’t the coach.”
Then on August 30, the first day of the fall semester, SCCC Dean Dave Thomson walked in DePew’s AD office and offered him the head coach’s job.
“Luckily for everyone, it worked out,” he said.
So DePew is now in his fourth season as head coach of the Generals.
He hopes this season will be memorable and add to the “Sullivan Generals Basketball Tradition of Excellence.” That tradition includes: NJCAA national champions (1992, ’95, ’96); NJCAA national runner-up (1994, 2001, ’02); Region XV champions (1988, ’89, ’92, ’93, ’94, ’95, ’96, ’99, 2001, ’02) and Mid-Hudson Conference champs (1992, ’94, ’96, ’99, 2001, ’03, ’04, ’05).
The Generals are scheduled to play 30 games in the regular season, and DePew hopes to stretch it to 36. Those extra six games would be three at the Region XV tourney and and another three at the National Championships at SUNY Delhi on the way to the NJCAA brass ring.
“I’m happy where we are right now, and in regards to the season this far, we got off to a bumpy start, but I know we’re going to be a good basketball team,” DePew said in an interview last Tuesday.
“We are at a point now where we have two All-Americans who have been through the wars,” he said of Kevin “KJ” Johnson and Everage Richardson, who along with returning fellow sophomores Jon Frasier and Dwain Joseph take to the floor as team captains.
“They’re like the bread and butter, the leaders, the go-to players,” DePew said of his All-Americans.
DePew noted that after lining up his “focal players” in the form of “KJ” and Richardson, he hit the recruiting trail to find “some kids I could surround them with… as role players around the focal points.”
“The difficulty with Sullivan County Community College basketball is that nearly every kid I bring in was the focal point of his high school team,” DePew commented. “I’m already looking at a couple of guys who will be our focal points next year – Josh Lott, Michael Hines and Jason Johnson – they’re stepping up to the plate and playing well.”
“We’re in good shape,” he added.
The 2005-06 Generals’ roster includes:
• Adama Bagayoko, freshman, #55, Integrated Arts High School: a transfer student from SUNY Morrisville, not eligible to play until next semester.
“I think he’s going to be a pretty good part of what we’re trying to do,” DePew said. “He’s a big kid who works hard at the post.”
• Princeton Campblin, freshman, Nyack: “Comes from a strong high school program, sitting out the first semester getting his grades in order… will be an immediate force… big, physical, strong, fast… brings a lot to the table.”
• Rashea Cook, freshman, #14, John F. Kennedy: last year, his high school team was New York City champion; “Works real hard in practice, a role player right now… expect him to mature by next year.”
• Jon Frasier, sophomore, #12, Far Rockaway: “Two-year starter, super athletic… jumps right out of the gym, one of our high flyers… one of the kids we send out in the transition to finish.”
• Donte Harrison, freshman, #31, Fort Hamilton: Because of freshman ineligibility, didn’t play at all last year, sitting it out as a red shirt; “Didn’t play a lot in high school, but is enthusiastic and is learning the game… giving us quality minutes… about 22nd in the nation in rebounds.”
• Michael Hines, freshman, #33, Beach Channel: As a high school senior, averaged about 20 points per game; “Starts at the ‘three’ position, brings a lot to the table defensively.”
• Jason Johnson, freshman, #23, Richard R. Green: “Our biggest surprise of the year… started out as a reserve player, getting better and better every single game… terrific around the basket.”
• Kevin “KJ” Johnson, sophomore, #32, St. Raymond: One of Sullivan’s NJCAA pre-season All-Americans; “He’s our leader, our point guard… he’s our floor general, like having a coach on the floor… emotional and vocal leader of our program.”
• Dwain Joseph, sophomore, #44, Far Rockaway: Starting at the ‘four’ position; “He’s doing all the little things I need him to do… he’s the kid who’ll step up and take charge, go out there and bang underneath the boards… I always put him against the other team’s best offensive player.”
• Thepsenm Julien, sophomore, #52, Fort Hamilton: “A role player kid, didn’t play in high real hard...very athletic, a great practice player.”
• Josh Lott, freshman, #5, Berkshire Academy: “One of our point guards in the future… we had Irv Opong, now we have ‘KJ’, and Josh is going to be our point guard next year… I’m going to turn the ball over to him… a good strong player, the heir apparent to the point-guard role.”
• Roberto Macklin, sophomore, #21, Beacon: Will become eligible this week; “an instant impact player for our program… won the dunk contest at the [preseason Generals’] jamboree… can jump straight out of the gym, a big time player.”
• Elyze Merzier, sophomore, #24, Transit Tech: “A good little guard, tough, strong… looking to make an impact and move up to a four-year school.”
• Mustafa Palmer, freshman, #3, Martin Luther King: “Good strong, solid guard… role player this year, looking for impact from him next year… if he continues to develop, looking for him to step up and make things happen next year.”
• Daniel Pearson, sophomore, #40, Sheepshead Bay: Expects to take to the floor at mid-semester, “Getting his academics in line… very athletic, strong guard who can jump real well… good defender.”
• Juan Ramos, freshman, #11, Two Bridges Academy: “The kid can flat out stroke it… has to learn the game a little more on the college level… can really shoot… works hard in practice.”
• Everage Richardson, sophomore, #34, Washington Irving: “He’s our all-world player, probably one of the three top players who ever walked through these doors… he’s incredible, a coach’s dream, an absolute pleasure… I’ve been involved with this young man for the last two years, and he’s getting a lot of interest from the Division I level… if he continues at his present pace, will break the school’s all-time scoring record sometime in late January.
(Sullivan’s current career scoring record of 1,122 points is held by Shiron Brown, who played from 2000-2002.)
• Javell Rosser, sophomore, #00, Clara Barton: “A good solid backup point guard… third starter behind KJ Johnson and Lott… very vocal leader on the bench, our sixth man.”
• Cory Sanders, freshman, #42, JFK: “Could be a big impact player for our team next year… looking for good things from him.”
• Jakar Wells, freshman, #10, Boys & Girls: “A leaper, very athletic wing player… gets up and down the floor real well, brings a lot to the table.”

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