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Mark DeCotis, Athletic Communications
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BCC Men Ready for Showdown with Palm Beach State on Wednesday
February 11, 2013 - The numbers say a lot about Brevard Community College's men's basketball season to date: BCC is 21-6 overall, the 21 wins matching last season's total - with three games remaining - and tying for the most since 1999-2000.
BCC also is 7-2 and in second place in the Florida College System Activities Association Southern Conference one game behind Palm Beach State, which is 8-1 in conference and 26-1 overall. Palm Beach's one loss was 73-66 to BCC on Jan. 16.
Palm Beach returned the favor on Jan. 28 in Lake Worth defeating BCC 72-70 in a heartbreaker in the final second.
Now at 7 p.m. Wednesday Palm Beach comes to Melbourne with first place in the conference and an automatic bid to the FCSAA state tournament at stake.
And while BCC would still have to win its two remaining conference games beyond Palm Beach, 2 p.m. Saturday at Miami Dade College in Kendall and 7 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 20 against Broward College in the Melbourne Campus gym to lock up the conference title, the Palm Beach game is the key.
A victory would give BCC the tiebreaker with Palm Beach and advance the Titans to the state tournament if they and Palm Beach finish with identical conference records.
So, with only five points separating the teams after 80 minutes of basketball in which nearly every dribble, nearly every shot and nearly every rebound were closely contested where can BCC get an edge?
"We didn't play 40 minutes the last time at their place," BCC head coach Jeremy Shulman said. "We let that game slip away. They are an unbelievably talented team. We can't take one possession off, not one rebound, not one loose ball, not one offensive possession.
"We have to value the basketball. We have to get back in transition defense. We've got to play with unbelievable intensity and unbelievable passion for the game for 40 minutes. If we do that we'll give ourselves a chance to win. If we don't do that we are doing ourselves a disservice."
An 87-78 upset loss on Feb. 6 at Broward College, which BCC had defeated 70-68 at home on Jan. 26, forced BCC to have to win its then- four remaining games to have a shot at the conference title.
With that in mind, and with a solid game plan, the Titans rebounded to defeat rival Indian State College 96-82 in Fort Pierce on Saturday in one of their finest performances of the season.
Shulman is hoping the consistency continues.
"Kids are going to be up and down a lot due to other factors," Shulman said. "We try not to let other factors control us. We tried to stay focused on the task at hand.
"What I tell our guys is 'it's always how you respond.' I think we can be a great team because we have fallen before this year and we've gotten back up in resounding fashion. I hope that continues right now. I'm hoping our trend sticks and we continue to play great the rest of the way."
To that end BCC has received stellar efforts from sophomore co-captains Addison Spruill and Nyles Evans who lead the Titans in scoring at 16.6 and 16.5 points per game respectively.
But the Titans talent and contributors go much deeper. Sophomore Gary Gaskins has been a force in the middle, averaging 3.2 blocked shots a game and 6.6 rebounds. Freshman point guard Ben Patrick has provided heady play and decision making all season.
"Ben is just that rock that we've got to have on the court," Shulman said. "He makes all the right plays and all the things that don't show on the stat sheet."
Freshman forward Jure Gunjina has started every game since overcoming an early season knee injury and leads the team in rebounding at 7.3 per game.
Freshman Jordan Smith responded with 29 points in BCC's second defeat of Indian River State. Freshman Mike Kirkland had a big day against Indian River last Saturday with 19 points and five rebounds. Sophomore Aldor Kola came off the bench to provide three critical baskets that made the difference as BCC rallied to defeat Miami Dade.
Also, freshmen Julian Adams and Devontay Clark have spelled Gaskins in the middle providing crucial minutes and crucial offense and defense and freshman Damion Smith is coming into his own at guard.
"The supporting cast has been outstanding and has been different guys at different times," Shulman said. "The supporting cast, as the year has gone on, they've really bought into their roles. They're absolutely crucial to the way we win games.
"I love the team, I love the chemistry and I love the rotation we've got," Shulman added.
"The guys know when it's their time. That's what you hope for when putting together a great team; that you can rely on guys whether it's for one minute or 30 minutes. That they're going to come in and do their job."
And now that job consists of winning three more games beginning with Palm Beach at home on Wednesday.
Admission to BCC home games is free.