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Tigers to have veteran presence with Brown, Blanford
November 8, 2011Marshalltown Community College
Even for a team of change, there are a couple of constants.
For the Marshalltown Community College men's basketball squad, those constants are Rashaad Brown and Sherman Blanford.
The sophomore pair are the only returning starters back from last year's team that went 14-15 and was bounced from the opening round of the NJCAA Division I Region XI tournament.
MCC boasts only four players back from that team with leading scorers Tyler Brown and Chris Caird not among them.
The Tigers, however, have reloaded with 6-foot-9 Nebraska recruit Keith Coleman and 6-foot-8 Idaho recruit Marcus Bell.
Integrating those two pieces along with a host of others on a team that can go 11 deep has been a process smoothed by the veteran presence of Rashaad Brown and Blanford.
"They've done a great job of leading the way. Kind of explaining what we're doing and how we do things," said MCC head coach Brynjar Brynjarsson. "Their leadership has been tremendous."
Taking charge of a young and relatively inexperienced team has been a focus for the duo leading into this weekend's season opener at the Southeastern Classic in West Burlington.
"We're basically trying to be the most vocal people on the court. Try to show some leadership," said Brown, who averaged 8 points-per-game last season. "There's a lot of people who haven't played college basketball or ever really been on a team, so we've got to show them the ropes."
Brown was thrust into a leadership role almost by default a year ago.
"Rashaad had a way of being a leader from being the point guard. He had to mature pretty quickly last year," said Brynjarsson.
"He's moved that on from last year to this and stepped it up to another level."
Blanford, meanwhile, led with his hustle and a motor than never seemed to drop below fifth gear as he routinely battled with players who held a significant size advantage.
"Sherman leads with such hard play. He's always enthusiastic," Brynjarsson said. "He comes out and gives everything he's got and does a nice job leading by example."
Beyond losing Tyler Brown, the ICCAC DI's leading scorer, to Illinois State and Chris Caird, a 12 ppg scorer, to Santa Clara, the Tigers will play a slightly different brand of basketball with the size and physicality of Coleman, Bell and returning contributor Nilson Santana, a 6-foot-8 forward.
"We've got a low-post presence. Last year, we had big men, but this year we've got a lot of muscle down there," noted Rashaad Brown. "There's going to be a lot of banging down there this year."
The increase in big bodies may mostly change the way Blanford will operate.
Listed at 6-foot-5, Blanford led the conference a year ago with 8.68 rebounds per game while playing mostly in the post.
This year, he'll likely cede time on the block to the towering trio.
"It's an adjustment for Sherman to sometimes be feeding the post. It's an adjustment for Sherman to be more in the ballhandling role," noted Brynjarsson. "Overall, it is an adjustment (for the entire team) because it just changes how we're playing. It's just changed how we can approach things overall.
"Sherman is probably the guy it has impacted the most."
That means evolving and expanding his game.
"I still have to keep rebounding," Blanford said. "I just have to add more stuff to my game like dribbling and shooting."
Blanford could have used the help on the boards Coleman and Bell will bring last year as MCC ranked last in the conference in cleaning up the glass.
That figures to change this season.
"We should be able to outrebound every team we play," Blanford said. "We work hard down low."
The Tigers, who hosted a scrimmage against Ashford last month, open their season Friday at 3 p.m. against Moraine Valley. They'll take on Culver Stockton at 1 p.m. Saturday.
Their first home game isn't until Nov. 16 against the Grandview JV. MCC will have a six-game homestand starting Nov. 21 that culminates on Dec. 3 and 4 with the Emerson Juco Challenge.
Conference play begins Jan. 21 against Indian Hills, which is ranked No. 9 in the NJCAA DI preseason poll.