The Delta College men's basketball team is off to the best start in school history. Never before has a men's basketball team started the season off with a perfect 10-0 record. As a result of the hot start, the Pioneers are currently ranked number thirteen in the nation and are expected to crack the top ten when national rankings are released this week.
"We have come a long way in the past three years," said head Coach Carlos McMath. "Our first year as a coaching staff, the 2015-2016 season, we started off 0-10. It took some time to implement our system and establish our foundation as a program and get our players to buy into the big picture."
The offensive system that the Pioneers have in place is one that promotes constant player and ball movement. In the system everyone gets a chance to get a touch on the ball and everyone plays a vital role in the offensive attack. As a result, the Pioneers have six players that average over ten points a game.
The defensive system relies on tenacious effort and intensive energy. In a system where the defense changes from possession to possession, depth on the bench is crucial. The Pioneers rotation consists of 10 or 11 players every game.
"Our success this season starts with our team buying into the process and trusting the system," said sophomore co-captain Martel Handley. "On the offensive and defensive side of the ball, each guy has a role and needs to bring the energy to fulfill that role." According to Handley, the systems on the court have carried off the court as well. "Our team has a unique bond and we are really tight knit. What is demanded of us on the court applies off the court. We are a brotherhood."
Another reason for the early season success is the balance of sophomores and freshman on the roster. The Pioneers have six sophomores and eight freshman on the roster. The sophomores who have been around the program serve as mentors on and off the court for the freshman. "I have had a lot of success on the court because I get to battle against sophomore Virgil Walker Jr. in practice every day," said freshman big man Peyton Miller. "He has taught me the skills to be successful in college basketball and has pushed me to be a better man and basketball player."
Two players that have played a pivotal role in the early season success are Flint high school standouts Cedric Moten and Jalen Fykes. What makes Cedric and Jalen unique is that they are both transfer students from Mott Community College. Both have found their fit in the Pioneer program and attribute their success to the comfort level at Delta College. "The atmosphere at Delta College is better for me because there are more student resources and the staff is more reliable," said Cedric. "I have become a better player and better student because of the relationships I have established with great professors and great coaches." Jalen Fykes echoed the sentiments of Moten, "The faculty, teachers, and athletic department at Delta are very hands on. They take time to address our needs and make sure I am staying on the path to success. Everyone here treats each other like family and that has led to success."
While the season is young, the Pioneers still have lofty goals and expectations that need to be met. Playing in the toughest junior college conference in the nation, the Pioneers will need to continue staying focused and trusting the process.