Chabot is back on the radar
Taking a 1-11, 3-24 community college basketball program, one with a downtrodden reputation, to 4-8, 11-17 is a heavy lift in and of itself. Doing so with a freshman dominated roster makes the improvement even more remarkable and satisfying. Chabot College Coach Keenan McMiller also achieved all this without any of his former Merritt College players coming down Interstate 880 and aiding the Gladiator cause.
His initial goal was “to bring respect back to the program and to bring an identity” with multiple elements woven into this approach. “The foundation will be built on academics with retention, graduation and transfer of student athletes to four-year colleges and universities.”
McMiller began by taking the pulse of the campus culture by reaching out to faculty and administrators, to those working in both student services, including academics, and throughout the campus, plus the local community. “We all have to work together to make success for student-athletes happen. I’m continuing to cultivate and build bridges by being conscious and deliberate about relationships.”
He continued, “we touched a lot of people and I’m proud how we conducted ourselves. We made sure the faculty and administrators had a schedule and a t-shirt. We deliberately went beyond athletics and kinesiology. Our president and some of the faculty came to games.”
The higher-ups are happy which actually is job one for any coach.
It was a matter of building bridges never before constructed and “handling matters the right way,” according to McMiller. “To put out a competitive product requires getting players who want to be student-athletes and go to class and study hall, and beginning to recruit locally.”
“Kids need to see your face again and again and we really want to have an impact on underclassmen. It was important to have a good year and to put another good year together. I have a little more ammunition because we’re no longer in the basement anymore.”
McMiller has five players returning, three of whom he labeled impact players—6-foot-5 Kyle (Dublin High) Brown 12.4 points, 4.0 rebounds, 6-foot-2 Akili (Sacramento High) Daniels 12.2 points, 5.0 rebounds and 6-foot-7 Jabari (Sacramento High) Sweet 8.8 points, 5.1 rebounds.
“We also have some guys who sat out this season who will have an impact.” Plus, there will be some newcomers to the program.
Subpar play at point guard is a problem in need of a solution but McMiller expects a solution to emerge because of his redshirts and newbies.
The situation of youthfulness and losing focus at moments during games should also diminish due to the experience gained this past season. “It’s key that we maintain focus to finish games by remembering details and the execution of adjusting. We have to solidify that.”
McMiller added, “I wanted to be humble with how I scheduled. We won our first game of the season and our first league game but we couldn’t lock in our focus throughout the season.”
As a result, the Gladiators dropped a number of close, winnable contests:
- a 64-59 neutral tournament loss to Monterey Peninsula College
- a 64-59 loss at home to American River College
- an 89-83 neutral tournament overtime loss to Los Medanos College
- a 79-77 neutral tournament loss to Napa Valley College
- a 78-77 loss at home to DeAnza College
- a 67-66 overtime loss at home to Skyline College
- a 96-94 road loss to Las Positas College
- a 109-102 double overtime loss at Skyline College
But the tools appear to be in place for a reversal of this in 2019-20.
McMiller finished by thanking Chabot President Dr. Susan Sperling, Vice President Dr. Stacey Thompson, Dean of Kinesiology and Athletics Dale Wagoner, Athletic Director Jeff Drouin, Art Barboza, the Director of Striving Black Brothers of Chabot College plus school faculty and staff and community members for the generous support given to him and his program.