December 16, 2009

Some Views from the Island Empire

Kevin McCarthy

San Bernardino has the nickname San Berdoo. It may not contain the glitz and glamour of points in the Los Angeles area and probably won’t ever be known as the “SB” and be the scene of a television show but the indigenous people who once lived there named it "The Valley of the Cupped Hand of God." That description has been lost in time but there is a coach and his players apparently determined to bring to life a new narrative for San Bernardino Valley College (SBVC) hoops: "The Valley of the Cupped Hand of the Basketball Gods."

Quincy Brewer heads the program and certainly knows basketball. After numerous accolades as a Riverside area prep hoopster, he went “Big Dancing” as an Arizona State Sun Devil, was a starter for three years in Tempe and played professionally overseas. Last season, he took a team laden with 12 freshmen, won the Foothill Conference title and advanced to the Elite 8 in the state tournament. The Wolverines lost to City College of San Francisco in a three-overtime epic and finished with a 27-9 record.

Brewer’s philosophy is to go after the high schoolers who received scholarship offers but didn’t meet full NCAA academic requirements, mold them into a collective of unselfish, hard-working players and unleash them against opponents.

In 2009, the formula is working once again. SBVC is currently 9-1, with wins against a murderer’s row of City College of San Francisco, Fresno City College and Mt. San Jacinto in one tournament, then victories against Santa Barbara City College, LA Harbor and Fullerton in another.

photo of Tre Brewer Tre Brewer

As for the next level, this talented bunch of Wolverines will each have multiple offers from numerous colleges even though none will average 20 points per game. As Brewer advises, "Coaches are looking for winners, players who understand how to fit into a system. They aren’t always looking for someone who will score 25 a game."

The former depiction aptly fits the San Berdoo personnel makeup.

Here’s Brewer on his mainstay players:

  • 6-foot-8 Curtis Wilkinson (attended Eisenhower High):
    He never played high school basketball but is averaging around 15 points and 8 rebounds a game and holds the school record for blocked shots with 10

  • 6-foot-7 Maurice McGee (Ramona High) (Brewer’s nephew):
    Maurice plays the 3 and 4 spots, is very athletic and can put the ball in the hole.

  • 6-foot-7 Orlando Brazier (Chino High):
    Orlando is very strong -- all muscle -- but has a soft touch on his shot and is a great rebounder, currently grabbing 7 a game while averaging 11 points.

  • 6-foot-7 Aaron Edwards (Gardena High):
    He has excellent jumping ability and plays great on-the-ball defense.

  • 6-foot-5 Tre Brewer (Etiwanda High):
    Tre is a very athletic, outstanding jumping shooting guard -- a long-armed slasher who is great defensively.

  • 6-foot-3 Orlando Collins (hometown - Long Beach):
    He is a very good under-sized post who can guard any spot on the floor.

  • 6-foot-2 Sidney Hall (Moreno Valley High):
    Sidney is a highly skilled combo guard with unlimited range on his jumper.

  • 6-foot-2 D’Shaun Holden (Victor Valley High):
    D’Shaun is very athletic, a good jumper with long arms who is a lockdown defender.

  • 5-foot-9 Nathan Roth (Ramona High):
    Nathan is our leader, a very athletic point guard penetrator and there’s not much he can’t do on the court.

The majority of Coach Brewer’s sophomores are being recruited to play D-1, while sleepers such as Holden and Collins are being recruited to play at the Division 2 and NAIA level.

But first there is the challenge to again be among the Elite 8 and then taking care of some unfinished business.