Vaqs Up to Challenge of Preseason Test

NO “I” IN TEAM: The Vaqueros stand ready for this season’s challenges.

John Ferrera, El Vaquero Staff Writer

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Preseason wins and losses shouldn’t be overanalyzed, but opening with a lackluster 2-2 record is a sign that a team is still trying to find its rhythm. Fortunately for the GCC men‘s basketball team, that’s what the preseason is all about.

“It usually takes anywhere from six to eight games to find yourself a bit, and from that point you try to have a consistent identity,” said Coach Brian Beauchemin. “We’re still in the growing process.”

On Friday the Vaqs will face their biggest test of the preseason when they play one of the top teams in Southern California: Antelope Valley College in the Antelope Valley Tournament.

“We know their plays. We’ve just got to work hard and practice,” said team captain and starting point guard Nikolas Rhodes.

Rhodes has shot well in the preseason, leading the team in scoring, with 54 points on 18 of 41 attempts over the four game stretch.

He considers himself a pass first point guard, however if he wants to establish himself as such, Rhodes will need to widen the gap between his 22 assists and 18 turnovers.

The Vaqs have been practicing hard for the upcoming tournament, placing a lot of emphasis on playing good defense.

“Our philosophy here is to defend it, rebound it, and then offense comes third,” said Beauchemin.

His team plays almost solely man-to-man defense, which makes it easy for him to identify who is responsible for defensive breakdowns, and is also the better defensive option for a team with small guards.

Most of all, he wants his team to display effort while on defense.

“We’d rather have a guy make an error of commission than omission; if you’re going hard in the wrong spot, at least you’re going,” said Beauchemin.

Beauchemin is in his 33rd season as Glendale’s head coach and has great command over his team. Before practice, he can be all smiles, goofing around with his players and taking jabs at their shooting form.

However, during practice he is very intense and isn’t afraid to chew someone out if they run a drill improperly. When he speaks the entire gym falls silent. Even the hardwood is squeakless out of respect as the players hang on to his every word. His leadership should play a large role in the success of this seasons team.

Returning big man Sooren Derboghosian’s play is also likely to have a large impact on the team’s success. He has an impressive resume, formerly playing in the 2009 under-19 basketball world cup in New Zealand as well as the under-18 West Asian Championship in Iran.

This 6-foot-9-inch 245-pound tree trunk of a man is going to be responsible for pulling down a majority of this small teams boards. He’s off to a good start averaging almost 10 rebounds a game, and if Derboghosian can get a few more looks, he could easily be on his way to averaging a double-double in the regular season.

The Vaqs’ first regular season game is an exciting home opener on Jan. 4 at 7 p.m. against conference rival and No.1 ranked Southern California team, Citrus College.

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