Playing loose with his lineup

January 13, 2011 

Curtis Norwood can't help but wonder, "What if?"

What if the four guards he had on his roster in his first year as men’s basketball coach at South Puget Sound Community College hadn’t become ineligible before they played even a single game?

And what if Will Sharp was able to play shooting guard, not point guard?

And what if Norwood wasn’t at times forced to play a forward at guard?

“Things haven’t turned out like we had hoped,” Norwood said. “I wondered why coaches carried 18 players on their roster. Now I know.”

Welcome to junior-college basketball.

Despite the setbacks, Norwood is holding his team together. The Clippers won their season opener, beating Shoreline, 68-67.

“I celebrated after that game,” Norwood said. “You never know when you’re going to get that first one.”

But the Clippers then won just one of their next nine games.

Playing point guard, Sharp is still a scorer. The North Thurston High graduate is averaging 13.7 points, scoring a season-high 24 in the win against Shoreline. Tabrion Leverette is averaging a team-best 18.4.

“Will accepted the change in position without complaint,” Norwood said. “But when we lost those four players, we had no one else to play point guard.”

Norwood recently recruited some emergency help. Richard Flores, a guard from River Ridge that Norwood recruited over the summer, just joined the team.

“He’s been with us for four practices,” Norwood said. “He was excited. We’re excited to have him. This gives him an opportunity.”

Norwood now has nine players on his roster, and he’s optimistic.

“We’ll turn it around,” he said. “We should have some success. We’re enthusiastic.”

SCHUSTER SOLID

David Schuster wasn’t the least bit intimidated.

As a freshman playing tennis at the University of Hawaii, the North Thurston graduate hasn’t been bothered by the “wow factor” of major-college athletics.

In a recent match against No. 13 Louisville in the Rainbow Warrior Challenge, Schuster won both his matches – 6-4, 6-4 in singles and 9-7 in doubles – giving Hawaii one of its two singles wins and its only doubles win.

The Cardinals, last year’s Big East champs, won eight of 10 singles matches and three of four doubles matches.

RECORD BREAKER

Blake Poole was the cure for a missed shot Tuesday.

The Saint Martin’s senior pulled down 24 rebounds in the Saints’ 85-54 win against Western Oregon, breaking a single-game record for the Great Northwest Athletic Conference.

Poole broke his own mark of 22 set two years ago, also against Western Oregon.

With his game-high 26 points Tuesday, Poole became just the fourth player in GNAC history to have a 20-point, 20-rebound game. He’s the first since 2005.

“If you missed a shot, he was going to rebound it,” Saints coach Keith Cooper said. “He’s just relentless. He never gives up.”

Poole came into the game ranked fourth nationally in rebounding in the NCAA Division II, averaging 11.2 per game.

The GNAC’s other 20-20 games were by: Seattle Pacific University’s Jason Chivers, 29 points and 20 rebounds against Saint Martin’s on Feb. 2, 2005; Humboldt State’s Fred Hooks, 21 points and 20 rebounds against Alaska Fairbanks on Jan. 10, 2002; Alaska Fairbanks’ Jason Williams, 21 points and 20 rebounds against Humboldt State on March 1, 2003.

Poole is on pace to become just the second player in the GNAC to have more than 1,000 rebounds in a career.

BACK IN TOWN

It was like old times for Jeff Drinkwine.

He was back at Saint Martin’s, coaching in the gym where he was an assistant coach to Cooper before going on to coach at The Evergreen State College.

“It was great to be in the Pavilion again,” Drinkwine said.

But he wasn’t that pleased with the outcome. Drinkwine, as an assistant coach at Simon Fraser, watched the Clan struggle through a 99-86 SMU win.

“He’s been a head coach. He’s been through this,” said James Blake, who is in his first year as a head coach at Simon Fraser. “So, Jeff has been a big help.”

Drinkwine joined Simon Fraser after three seasons as head coach at Evergreen, leading the Geoducks to a 60-31 record and two trips to the NAIA Division II national tournament.

Gail Wood: 360-754-5443 gwood@theolympian.com www.theolympian.com/sports/blog

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