"It's All About The Game"
PGCC is focused on goals
Ron Bailey, Publisher
The PGCC Owls maintain focus, bring about new approach.
October 10, 2013 - After a spirited, fast paced, energetic practice, Prince George's Community College's men's team finished by shooting foul shots, the squad's coach Xavier Joyner took a squat on the gym's bench, a sense of satisfaction palpable in his voice. Not only did his charges drill, shell and play - improving in the process - but his overall goals seemingly continues to be met.
That's Xavier Joyner demonstrating proper help defense technique.
"We've had guys play well, perform academically, and get into four year schools" said Joyner, in his fourth season as PGCC's head coach, when asked to comment on standards and the junior college grind. He attributes his success placing student-athletes in college - 22 that "moved on to four year schools", 11 that are playing now - to being "fortunate to have guys come through and buy into our system".
Well, a system is implemented by program leaders, and Joyner's stresses both books and hoops, a sizeable challenge in the JUCO landscape, as many players play at that level because of academic concerns. Joyner's approach has been honed not only at PGCC, but six prior, leading Montgomery College's program.
After his primary proverbial pot of gold, beaming with pride about helping young guys obtain college degrees, Joyner rattled off five secondary goals: "Number one, win the Maryland team academic award. Two, win the Maryland JUCO (league). Win Region 20, be District seven champs, and national champs!"
Last season the Owls were 18-11, 10-5 in Maryland JUCO action, good for a third of 16 team slotting. Despite losing players like Tyler Logan, David Duncan, Deandre Leatherwood, NieRonn Miles - now at Florida Southern, West Texas A&M, Morehead State and Urbana, respectively - and not having the height of last year, Joyner's team could have the chops to meet many of its goals.
Possibly leading the team is a crew of talented guards, including Ray Featherstone (2nd year) and Darnell Diggs, in his first year. Featherstone is 6'2", 170 pounds and is a penetrating, dishing point guard, while Diggs, at 5'8" and 155 pounds can pass, but also scores from inside and out.
This year's batch of frontcourt Owls are not skyscrapers, but are somewhat interchangeable and use their quickness to an advantage. The projected starters up front are presently second year guys Gabe McKey (6'6", 195 pounds) and JaShan Johnson (6'3", 175 pounds), along with Lerenzo Foote, a 6'5", 200 pound first year student-athlete.
Joyner, doing what smart coaches to by adjusting his attack to the players he has, shared via phone later "We are going to do a lot of pressing, trapping and running. We're looking to score a lot of points".
His practice bore that out, and included the following; drills emphasizing close out activity and fundamentals, full court ball handling segments designed to steel both dribbler and defender to contact, fast break work focusing upon getting to the rim, utilizing handoffs and firing off threes, as well as half court and full court set work and play. Everything was preparing his team to utilize quickness on defense and offense.
Joyner is chock full of confidence, opining "I feel this squad is going to be very, very successful in terms of what they've displayed during the preseason. Their teamwork and camaraderie has been second to none!"
Looks like some goals will be met.
The Owls are looking to solidify belief in sets. Joyner was overheard during 2-3 zone work: "That's why you have that ultimate trust with teammates".
Xavier, commenting to his team on application: "You've been doing it in the drills, now you have to take it to the game".
His staff of Jimmy Watkins, Jerome James and Malcolm Joyner are the coach's eyes and ears.
The manager crew, consisting of Shelby Steed and Shawntelle Walker dispatch their duties in a professional manner. Managers make things easier, with little fanfare.
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