Youth and inexperience has never discouraged Lancers’ men’s basketball head coach Michael Swanegan. Despite only returning two sophomores from last season’s team, the head coach heading into his eighth year expects another competitive group from this year’s team.
“We’re expecting the same intensity from this year’s team despite our youth,” Swanegan said. “We’re expecting the guys to come out and play hard every game, it’s just a matter of how quick they pick everything up and get used to this level of play.”
Returning center Faruk Oyalade will be asked to produce more in the post this season with the departure of All-State forward Taj Spencer, who’s now playing at Cal Baptist University in Riverside. Last season Spencer led the Lancers to the third round of the SoCal Regional playoffs and averaged a team-high 18 points per game and 8.2 rebounds.
Although the Lancers will be without the production of Spencer and last year’s starting point guard Jeffrey Dockett, coach Swanegan is expecting a big season from returning guard Jonathan Henderson and 6-foot-6 freshman forward Jaryn Taylor. Taylor’s length and athletic ability should be a good compliment to Oyalade to give the Lancers a formidable frontcourt tandem.
“We have a young group of players but I’m still expecting a lot out of this year’s team,” Swanegan said. “We’re a little taller this season, but we’ve also lost some key players from last season.”
While many opposing teams may expect to capitalize on the Lancers’ youth, the former duo of Dockett and Spencer believes in their former coach’s ability.
“Coach Swanegan is a good coach,” Dockett said. “If the players listen and follow his type of playing style they will be successful this season and surprise a lot of teams.”
“Coach Swan is a player’s coach,” Spencer added. “He’s seen every situation possible on the court and I believe he will keep the young players level headed and keep them on track when adversity hits.”
Expected to help make up for the loss of Dockett in the backcourt is 6-foot-5 freshman Keith Langston. The guard from Whitney High School in Chicago is expected see quality minutes in his first season and believes the Lancers can build on last season’s success.
“Our goal is to go farther in the tournament and build on last season’s success,” Langston said. “We have a one of a kind coach who demands the best from his players on both sides of the ball. He’s top notch. We’re a much closer team than we were at the beginning of tryouts. It’s like a brotherhood, you can’t ask for much more.”
Coach Swanegan believes that if the trio of Taylor, Henderson and Langston can adjust to their new roles the Lancers will be in good shape.
“Hopefully good things can happen for us this year in terms of winning games,” Swanegan said. “Despite our youth I’m always expecting a competitive team.”
The Lancers’ men’s basketball team will kick off the 2014-15 season today against Orange Coast College as part of the Ventura Tournament. The game is scheduled for 3:00 p.m.