The men’s basketball team is on the verge of missing the Florida Collegiate System Activities Association Athletics State Tournament for the fourth year in a row.
Currently 10-18 (5-6 in conference), the team needs a miracle to push through to the postseason. They have to win their last game and need Indian River State College, Broward College and ASA College to go winless in their last two games.
“There’s still a chance for us to make it to the state tournament as long as everything falls our way,” said Sharks head coach Kevin Ledoux. “Our sophomores our motivated to make a difference in these last two games and we need to play as hard as we practice.”
The long and disorienting season has been highlighted by a high volume offense and inefficient rebounding.
Although the team is ranked eighth nationally in points per game (97.2), they average 40.8 rebounds per contest, which places them 60th in the country and their 0.9 rebounding margin is ranked 147th nationally.
Defensively, they allow 99.2 points per game on 51.6 percent shooting.
Ledoux wants the team to forget the season’s miscues and play the last two games as if they had a 0-0 record.
“It comes down to whether we can push ourselves and play harder than our opponents,” Ledoux said. “This is a tough team of highly athletic players and I know they have what it takes to make a difference.”
The season’s highlights have been few and far between.
Sophomore forward DJ Russell has been the focal point of the team’s offense and defense. He is averaging 19.5 points and 9.7 rebounds per game and is second on the team with a 50.2 field goal percentage.
Fellow sophomore Montese Blake has also been a big contributor on offense; he averages 18.9 points per game.
Freshman phenom Elton Walker has turned his first campaign with the Sharks around and is now averaging 12.9 points per game and leads the team with a 56.6 field goal percentage.
When any of those three are off the court, the team finds itself struggling to maintain its offensive production, creating scoring deficits that are hard to recoup.
The constant losing has chipped away at the team’s confidence.
“We hit some tough moments,” sophomore guard Arseniy Andreev said. “There were times when the leaders had to keep everyone focused and get the record off our minds to keep the team pushing forward.”
Several sophomores have experienced their share of woes on the court.
Sharpshooter Kaevon Tyler tore his anterior cruciate ligament midway through the season, leaving the team without one of their most vocal leaders as conference play began.
Andreev, who averaged 8 points and 4.6 assists per game last year has suffered a drop off this year, averaging 6.2 points and 3.8 assists per game.
“It’s part of the game,” Andreev said. “You can’t get caught up in stats and the record. What’s important for us is that the team stays focused and continues to play aggressively.”
With two games remaining in his career at Miami Dade College, Andreev is determined on make a statement.
“We’ve matured a lot this season,” Andreev said. “We been through some tough challenges. The team is ready for this test.”
The Sharks’ last game is on the road against Indian River State College on Feb. 27 at 7:30 p.m.