The Linn-Benton Community College men's basketball team is hoping that continuity and talent lead the Roadrunners to success in 2018-19.
Following a 22-win 2017-18 campaign for the Roadrunners, which saw them make their way to the Northwest Athletic Conference Final Four, LBCC (1-0) will look to go even further this season with five returning players, including two starters.
Roadrunners coach Everett Hartman, who’s entering his third season with the team, feels that this year's group has the potential to be even better than last year's.
“We’re excited about our group this year," he said. "We’re more athletic and deeper than we were a year ago, but every team has to develop its own identity. Last years’ team was probably the tightest team I’ve been around in my 32 years in terms of camaraderie and unity.
"We think we have the talent to be even better than last year, but this team is going to have to find that out on their own.”
Forward Taylor Jensen, who along with guard Bailey Evers are the returning starters, feels that the team has very good cohesiveness among one another.
“Our chemistry is very good and we have five returners, so we’re building on already good chemistry,” Jensen said. “Combine that with the new guys we’ve brought in, and we’ve really gelled as a unit. Wins and losses will come, but we just have to get better every single day.”
Added guard Riley Davis: “I feel really good about our group. I’ve got pretty high expectations for our group and we’ve got a very good-looking squad heading into the season.”
Given the high turnover rate at the two-year college level, it’s often times hard to sustain success with players constantly coming and going each season. While it may not be the most ideal scenario, Hartman and his staff have embraced what it takes to win at this level, and that’s a lot of local talent with high character.
“That’s the nature of the beast at the two-year level,” Hartman said. “We do look for local talent, and we’ve got some local talent this year. We lost out on a couple recruiting battles and that’s water under the bridge. If you can have five, six, seven returners and bring in the rest in newcomers, that’s a really good model.”
While the Roadrunners figure to have a solid group this season in many regards, Hartman still wants them to make their biggest strides on the most important end of the floor.
“We need to get better defensively,” Hartman said. “That’s a common theme for any basketball team regardless of level. We shoot the ball pretty well and have depth, so we’ll be able to utilize that. We want to play a more up-tempo game and push the ball. Last year we played 32 games ... so we really watch minutes played very closely and try to make sure we’re keeping players fresh.”
LBCC opened their season with 93-76 win over Tacoma last Friday night. The Roadrunners have a motto that they’ve embraced that’s simple, yet effective.
“Our daily mantra is play hard,” Hartman said. “We think that if you focus on the process and the day-to-day work, the results will take care of themselves. Our goal is always to make the NWAC tournament, but at the same time we don’t want to get too caught up in wins and losses.”