Bakersfield College men’s basketball doesn’t pass the eye test, and head coach Rich Hughes knows it.
“When we walk in the gym, we’re a really small team,” Hughes said.
The Renegades don’t have a player taller than 6 feet, 4 inches and just four taller than 6-foot-1. The faces are much different than a season ago, too. BC returned only four sophomores and less than 16 percent of its scoring from last year.
What Bakersfield lacks in size and experience, it will try to make up for in energy. The Renegades opened the season with a loss to El Camino on Wednesday on the road and will host Sequoias at 8 p.m. in their home opener
“Our thing is intimidate with effort,” Hughes said. “If we’re not playing hard we’re gonna have a hard time because we’re so small.”
Back are sophomores Anieus Medrano, Shahadah Camp, Kobe Garner and Marcus Jones. Camp is the top scoring returner with nine points per game last season. He also grabbed four rebounds per game. Medrano, Garner and Jones each averaged fewer than three points, three rebounds and 11 minutes in 2017-18.
Medrano, a Liberty graduate, and Camp have gone back-and-forth through practice as the team’s top performing shooters in drills. One of the two will be the go-to option when BC needs a basket late in a game, Hughes said.
Camp can finish mid-range shots and at the rim, Hughes said. Jones is a strong rebounder and good in the press.
“Those four guys are the guys that we’re gonna latch onto and hold onto and hopefully can lead us to getting a conference title,” Hughes said.
The offense will be centered around 3-pointers and the defense will be focused on “speed, havoc, chaos,” Hughes said. He wants his players to take charges on bigger post players or get vertical to contest shots. Hughes knows his group won’t block a lot of shots and might get dunked on, but he at least wants to force more difficult shots at the rim.
Because BC is going to try to push the pace and wear its opponents out, Hughes is going to use 10 to 12 players each game. Each available player played in BC’s first game, which never happened last season, Hughes said.
“We have to play really fast,” Camp said. “Everyone has to hustle. Everyone is going to see the floor. We all should be walking off the court exhausted.”
Of the freshmen, Foothill alumnus Malik Tautau will provide some of a presence inside. Quentin Pettiford, a Santa Maria-Righetti graduate, displayed his shooting ability in a recent practice. North High graduate Shannon Wafer is “lion hearted,” Camp said, and goes full bore on the court. Blake Van Uden came to Bakersfield all the way from Auckland, New Zealand.
BC had been more stacked with shooters in the preseason but some left the team for various reasons, Hughes said.
“We’re small. We knew that coming in over the summer we didn't have a lot of big guys,” Medrano said. “But we’re finding, figuring out a way to make it work.”