Kilgore's Coach Brian Hoberecht Credits Whole Crew
Coach Brian Hoberecht of Kilgore College gives credit to his players -- not simply the solid starting five, but also the heavily involved bench. His backups do far more than clap, cheer, wave towels and offer high fives at time-outs.
To be sure, he’s sold on his starters. Given the chance, he wouldn’t trade his starters for any in the country. Ditto for his all-important bench. That’s one of the biggest reasons that Kilgore, Texas has run up a 24-2 season record and a No. 4 ranking in the National JC Athletic Association poll posted Feb. 14. The Rangers won 17 games in a row to open the season and have lost twice: by one point to Navarro, Texas (65-64) and by eight points in overtime to Bossier Parish, La. (109-101). Last year’s team went to the National JC Athletic Association Tournament in Kansas and lost in round one to host Hutchinson 95-86. It finished that season 10-1; that, combined with the sterling record this season, makes Kilgore 34-3 in its last 37 games.
But this team, Hoberecht says, ranks as one of the best he has coached in his 22 seasons. “Our depth has been a strength of this team,” said Hoberecht. “We are deep and athletic. This group has been very efficient, and all the players have great basketball IQs. We have 10 players who can contribute and make an impact on the game every night. Role identification and the ability to have multiple people contribute in big games throughout the season has been a big part of us being successful. The energy every player brings has allowed everyone to excel in multiple situations.”
The usual starting five has done well. That includes Dantwan Grimes (floor general who controls the tempo and leads the squad in minutes played with about 32 a game); Isaac Hoberecht (plays like the coach’s son he is); Da’Sean Nelson (athletic and bouncy and leading the team with 14.7 points per game); Paul Otiene (physical and first in team rebounding with 7.6) and Mason Taylor (versatile wing who impacts both ends of the floor) have regularly done a superlative job.
Some 12 players average between 4.5 minutes and 32 minutes a game. And when any of the reserves get in a game, Kilgore loses little if anything. Taylor contends that those on the bench are just as important as the starters. “They push us in practice every day,” said Taylor. “Rarely do you see a drop-off when we sub. It’s a good feeling. We rely on each other. We know we’re deep and all of us can play.” Taylor, who transferred to Kilgore from the Air Force Academy, said the fact each player understands his role well has been big. “We’re all accountable and we trust each other.”
Reserves Obi Ezekewesli and Duane Posey average a combined 10.5 points, 4.2 points less than Nelson. DaVeon Thomas, who could start on numerous other juco teams but comes in off the bench for the Rangers, averages 11.4 points. Said Posey: “It would be good to start, but it doesn’t really bother me. I trust my teammates. I don’t feel like we lose much. We know we are all capable. The goal for each of us to get a win, to put the team first and not put what we do individually first.”
The team's success is not all that surprising to Hoberecht. He knew this team would be very good last July when it assembled. There was something special about them. Then and now. “They love to play and to play well,” said Hoberecht. “That really matters to them. They have high standards.”
Hoberecht’s colleagues in Texas agree. “Their bench played big when two of their starters were not available and didn’t play in two games,” said Coach Lance Madison of Lamar St.-Port Arthur. “They ended up winning those two games, without a full roster available. He (Hoberecht) has them playing hard, smart, defending, and sharing the sugar.”
Paris Coach Bill Foy paid Kilgore the ultimate compliment when he said: “They remind me of our team that won it all (the NJCAA Tournament) in 2005. I don’t see any weaknesses. I would be surprised if they don’t make some noise at the NJCAA Tournament.”
This year’s Division l tournament is March 14-19 at the Hutchinson Sports Arena and Kilgore should be in the hunt for the championship. “They are not going to beat themselves,” according to Madison, “you are going to have to beat them.” That means beating the five players on the floor and a strong bench, too.
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