2012-13 Junior College Basketball Preview: Delta hopes to build on two straight district final four appearances
October 30, 2012 in JUCO
It’s hard to believe, but college basketball season is almost here. This week, we’ll preview Michigan’s 19 junior college teams.
At a glance
- Coach: Lonnie Griffin, third season
- Last year: 13-18, 8-10 MCCAA
- Conference: Michigan Community College Athletic Association (MCCAA)
- Key losses: Jody Hill, Tyler Dwyer
- Key additions: (freshmen) Jawaun Doggett, Bernard Whitehead, Caleb McIntosh, Malcolm Sterling, Marcarius Coakley, Rahmaude Stringfield, B.J. Batts, Tre Johnson, Aaron Prim, Jacob Dotson, Tony Purifoy; (sophomores) Jojuan Graham, Anthony Mills, Brandon Anderson
- Team website
- Delta C.C. news on BallinMichigan
If Delta College is going to return to the district final four for a third straight season, the team will need to find a replacement for the nation’s sixth leading scorer.
Over the past two seasons, Griffin has built Delta into a program capable of competing with the top teams in the state. Last season, the regular season record wasn’t great, but Delta under Griffin has played its best basketball going into the district tournament. In 2011, the Pioneers upset favored Henry Ford in a semifinal game to make the district final. In 2012, Delta once again upset Henry Ford, this time in the quarterfinals, before losing to Oakland Community College in the semis.
The team returns two contributors from last season in Jakob Holland (8.7 points and 7.4 rebounds per game) and George Smithers (3.0 points per game). Delta also has a familiar face on its roster in Graham. Graham played for Delta as a freshman on their 2011 team, then sat out last season. As a freshman, he played in 27 games and averaged 10.9 points per game. Graham, who played at Flint Southwestern, was one of the top scorers in the Saginaw Valley League in high school, and his experience should help Delta recover from the loss of Hill.
Hill was a force for Delta last season, averaging 26 points per game and, at times, carrying a very young team through parts of the season. He was an inside-outside scorer, a great finisher and, when other teams double or triple-teamed him, he was a willing and good passer. He leaves a gaping hole in the lineup that will likely require multiple incoming players stepping up to fill.
Aside from Hill, the team also loses Dwyer, a solid, garbage-man type of undersized forward who was really crafty around the basket. Dwyer averaged 12 points per game and led the team in rebounding at 7.5 per game. Delta’s incoming class has some size in it, but the team will definitely need one of its new players to do some of the dirty work under the boards that Dwyer was good at.
As with any young team, early struggles are to be expected, but if Delta can get off to a better start than the 4-10 mark they started last season at, they’ll have a chance at a better record and better seed going into the district tournament. Delta has proven to be an effective team closing a season. If the Pioneers can work on more consistency at the beginning, they’ll continue to be a program on the rise in the state.
Circle these dates …
- Jan. 19 and Feb. 16 — The Pioneers finished tied in the standings with St. Clair last season. They’ll try and move ahead of the Skippers in the MCCAA East his season.
- Jan. 30 and Feb. 27 — Henry Ford is one of the top programs in the state, but Delta has played the Hawks as well as anyone in Michigan has. They’ll get two more chances in the regular season to continue their strong play in a really underrated rivalry.
Delta has a great facility and is located close to Saginaw, one of the state’s great basketball hotbeds. Griffin is well on his way to building Delta into one of the state’s elite programs.
- Alpena needs to replace talented foursome from last season
- Sophomore Larry Taylor leads an improving Jackson C.C. program into season