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Blinn looking to improve on spring campaign

Buccaneers excited about mix of freshmen, sophomores and transfers
Credit: KAGS-TV

BRENHAM, Texas —

If there was one thing the Blinn College men’s basketball team learned in the spring, it was this: 

“Average is not going to cut it here,” third-year sophomore guard CJ Carpenter said. “We’re here playing for scholarships; we’re playing to win games; we’re playing to move up to the next level, obviously. So, I feel like everyone has got to have that mindset that we have to win games – period – and I think we do.” 

After an 11-11 showing in the spring, including an 8-10 Region XIV record good enough for just sixth in the league standings, the Buccaneers are hoping to get back on track with a full fall season ahead of them. 

Blinn gets started Monday, Nov. 1 at home against the Houston Hurricanes, with tip-off set for 7 p.m. at the Kruse Center in Brenham, and head coach Scott Schumacher said he’s ready to put last season’s up-and-down campaign in the rearview. 

“I think the big thing about last year was that we never really got into any flow,” Schumacher said. “We had a lot of stoppage because of testing and protocols, so we never got into a flow, and we were never able to build anything. 

“But this year, we’ve been able to go full bore; we’ve been practicing as much as we’re allowed to, and you can just tell we’re getting better and better every scrimmage … that’s something every coach wants is to see his team get better and better, and you can see that happening.” 

If that improvement will translate into victories falls on a Bucs team stitched together with a mixture of third-year players like Carpenter and forward Tyler Washington, as well as returning freshmen Elias Ngoga (forward), Sammi Fajana (forward), Sam Chigbo (center) and Braelon Seals (guard/wing). Schumacher said he’s also excited about the addition of Division I transfers Jaja Sanni, a freshman wing arriving from the University of Texas San Antonio, and Connor Rains, a sophomore wing with a wealth of experience at University of Texas Rio Grande Valley.  

“It’s a great mix of guys,” Schumacher added. “The freshmen, the transfers … they fit really well into what we’re wanting to do offensively and defensively. It’s really a great group that we think can win a lot of games for us.” 

Expect the Buccaneers to continue to give opposing offenses different looks with a combination of man-to-man and zone defense. Schumacher said his team’s size and length, especially when you consider only two of his 16 players stand in at under 6-feet tall (nine are 6’5 or taller), should play well into his defensive scheme while also creating opportunities in an up-tempo, screen-heavy offensive attack. 

“Our length and our size are helping us be a better defensive team because it becomes difficult to score on us just because it’s hard to get around us since we’re so big,” Schumacher said. “And I think (offense and defense) all goes hand-in-hand. We tell them, ‘Hey fellas, if you can get stops you can run the ball up the floor; if you don’t get stops at this level you can’t run the fastbreak. 

“So, we want to get stops and get the ball out quickly and run and get ourselves into some quick-hitting action.” 

Carpenter and Washington return as the team’s top scorers following the departures of Davion Coleman (21 points per game last season; now at Texas State) and Bonke Maring (12.6 PPG; now at University of Texas El Paso). Carpenter registered 11.6 points per outing, while Washington finished with 10.1. Washington was Blinn’s leading rebounder with nine per game.  

Washington said the revamped Buccaneers are ready to fill the gaps created by the spring departures and believes this could be the season Blinn puts it all together for a deep postseason run. 

“This team we’ve got this year is a good team … we’ve got a lot of great players, we’ve had some great practices and great scrimmages, and I think we’re going to have a great season this year,” he said. “I’m real confident about this season; we score well, we defend really well, and I think we have the pieces to compete in this region and go far.” 

Following its season opener, Blinn will play four road games before returning home for the Blue Bell Ice Cream Classic on Friday, Nov. 12 and Saturday, Nov. 13. The Buccaneers will then open region play at home against last season’s region champion, Trinity Valley, at 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Dec. 1. 

Trinity Valley will kick off what Schumacher expects to be another tough slate of league opponents. 

“We’re going to have to be able to survive the gauntlet,” the coach said. “Top to bottom, everybody’s going to be really good; everybody is going to be strong. But we’ve come to expect that, and we’ll be ready to compete.” 

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