Men’s basketball takes on conference with a three-game winning streak, lots of hope

Vince Aguilar, Staff Reporter

Despite a rocky 2015-16 season that ended in a loss, and a rough start to the 2016-17 season, the De Anza College men’s basketball team is beginning to turn around.

The Dons started the season 3-10 and entered the California Community College Athletic Association conference needing a lot of work, with the “highlights still to come,” coach Jason Damjanovic said.

The Dons opened the conference with another loss but are now riding a three-game winning streak. The Don’s most recent game ended 77-76 over Hartnell on Wednesday, Jan. 18.

“We’re 3-1 in conference and we have played a very difficult pre-season schedule which I’m hoping is preparing us for a good run in conference,” Damjanovic said.
The hard start to the season has warmed them up, with close games becoming the motivating factor in the team’s continued improvement.

Returning player Chris Turner, 20, one of the rising stars, has grown over the seasons. Turner said having “new team members with such raw potential” gives him high hopes for the conference.

Turner said that the team has a higher energy this year, with a competitive edge that makes the game more exciting.

“We just knew that we couldn’t get down on ourselves,” Turner said of the Don’s victory over Hartell. “We needed to continue to go out there and be aggressive and play to our strengths. I knew we would eventually click and get things together.”

Marquel Hodge, 19, said that the losses earlier in the season motivate and push him to do better for his team and himself.

“Our hopes are always to win conference,” Damjanovic said. “Our goals don’t change. Those are always our goals going into the season.”

Point guard Ifeanyi Ekechukwu, 20, said the team has to keep the mentality that winning one game does not mean anything. “We have to come prepared like we are ready to win,” he said.