BY CHAD DARE firstname.lastname@example.org
---- — DANVILLE — Making the extra pass and sharing the basketball was a priority this week during practice for Danville Area Community College men’s basketball.
“We have a bunch of talented offensive guys,’’ DACC first-year coach DaJuan Gouard said. “It’s hard with having a new team and them learning how to use their teammates. We worked on that all week and we punished them when they didn’t pass the ball to the open guy.’’
But, the truest proof that the lesson was learned came in Saturday’s game against Moraine Valley.
Danville Area Community College had 22 assists on its 32 baskets and nine of the 10 Jaguars that played in the 90-56 victory over the Cyclones had at least one assist.
“Yeah, I didn’t even noticed that,’’ Gouard said. “Most of these guys with an assist don’t usually get any.
“We wanted to make sure that the open guy was taking the shot instead of someone else taking a contested shot.’’
Former Danville High standoug D’Lando Carter was the beneficiary of several of those assists as the 6-foot-2 sophomore guard scored a season-high 31 points, including 19 in the first half.
“The credit for that goes to my teammates,’’ said Carter, who did have one assist. “I had the open shots and I was able to knock them down.’’
Carter said the extra practice this week on passing and sharing the basketball made a difference in Saturday’s game against last year’s NJCAA Division II National Runner-up.
“That was a big part of what we did in practice all week,’’ he said. “We need to work on the little things like passing and screening. When you do those things well, it make the offense run a lot smoother.’’
And while the improved play was a confidence booster for the Jaguars (4-6), getting that first home victory was also a good thing.
“We had lost our first two home games of the season, including one last Monday against Lincoln Trail,’’ Carter said. “So, we needed a game like this and to beat the team that was second in the National Tournament last year was also good for our team.’’
While Moraine Valley (2-7) has just a handful of players returning this season, just getting a victory and winning three of its last four games is a step in the right direction for the Jaguars.
“We needed this win and D’Lando took it upon himself to make sure that we got this win,’’ Gouard said. “The improved play and the success that we had today is something we can take into our next game.’’
And who do the Jaguars play next?
Rend Lake, the NJCAA Division II National Champions from last year on Thursday in Ina.
According to Gouard, it’s the exact type of schedule the Jaguars need to play to get ready for the Mid-West Athletic Conference.
While he was extremely pleased with his team’s abilities on offense, especially with the sharing the basketball, Gouard was also encouraged by the play of Jalen Loving and Antwan Scriven on the low block.
Loving had a game-high 12 rebounds to go along with just four points and Scriven came off the bench to post his second double-double of the season as the 6-8 freshman from Philadelphia had 11 points and 11 rebounds.
“I challenged our big guys to come up with 10 rebounds,’’ Gouard said. “Loving made a sacrifice in his offense to make sure he got his 10 rebounds and Antwan came off the bench with a double-double.
“It’s good to see both of those guys get the job done.’’
While Carter’s 31 led all DACC scorers, John Strahl came off the bench to score 13 followed by Scriven with 11 and Joseph English had 10 to go along with a game-high five assists. Tre Granger had seven points to go along with his game-high five steals.
Johnte Shannon, one of three players that were on last year’s Moraine Valley squad, led the Cyclones with 26 points off the bench. Cameron Juillerat was their only other player in double digits with 11, while sophomore Des’Nique Harris, another returner, had eight points and 8 rebounds.