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Mark DeCotis, Athletic Communications
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BCC's Men Play for Conference Basketball Title on Wednesday
February 18, 2013 - Men's basketball has a legacy of success at Brevard Community College although it has been some time since the Titans hoisted a championship banner.
The current BCC team can both end the drought and add to the legacy with a victory over Broward College on Wednesday night at the Melbourne Campus gym.
Tipoff is 7 p.m. and admission is free. If the Titans prevail they will win their first Florida College System Activities Association Southern Conference title since 1999-2000.
That also was the last time BCC competed in the FCSAA state tournament and advanced to the NJCAA Division I national tournament.
All told, BCC won 17 conference titles from 1965 to 2000 and reached the state tournament 20 times. BCC also won six state titles between 1967 and 2000 and appeared in the national tournament three times: 1973, 1979 and 2000, the last one under head coach Don Smith.
Lean years followed the 1999-2000 campaign but BCC's fortunes changed with the arrival of head coach Jeremy Shulman. The 32-year-old Nashville native won 18 and 21 games respectively in his first two seasons and has this year's Titans team sitting at 23-6 overall and 9-2 in the conference.
The 23 victories are the most since 1999-2000 but Shulman and his players know that, numbers aside, so much more success is possible beginning with the conference title.
But before anything else BCC must win on Wednesday and Broward presents a formidable challenge. BCC beat Broward 70-68 in Melbourne on Jan. 26 but lost 87-78 at Broward on Feb. 6. The game will be yet another grinding, grueling test in a conference season full of such tests including three against nationally ranked Palm Beach State.
BCC beat Palm Beach 73-66 in Melbourne, lost 72-70 at Palm Beach and then won 72-69 in overtime at home grabbing the first-place tiebreaker and putting itself in position for the championship.
To that end, Shulman is taking a single-track approach with his team.
"We are going to try to approach this one in every way, shape and form like we have the Palm Beach games, particularly the last Palm Beach game which we knew was back against the wall, had to win," Shulman said.
"Our preparation . . . everything we are doing, it's just going to be another day at the office but the guys are going to know the urgency of it as far as having to play every minute, every possession, every defensive trip down the court is what could decide the game."
As far as the legacy is concerned, Shulman hasn't given it a thought.
"Not yet, after Wednesday I might be able to think about it a little bit," he said. "Right now I am up late at night worried about Broward."
And a key to success against Broward could very well lie in the enthusiasm and the electricity generated from the bleachers. The biggest and most vocal crowd in years turned out for the Palm Beach game a week ago and Shulman is hoping for an encore this Wednesday.
"It was unbelievable," Shulman said. "It's important beyond words. "Whatever I can do to get this gym packed and not just packed, but the energy, the electricity. The crowd was into it, they were loud, they were fired up. We need that.
"This is my plea for the community and for the students at BCC to come out in large numbers to be loud and wild and crazy."
But in the end the outcome rests in the hands of BCC's players and sophomore co-captain and leading scorer Addison Spruill believes he and his teammates will be up to the challenge.
"We're getting ready," Spruill said. "I know the school hasn't had (a championship) in a while. We're treating it just like any other game we've played this whole season."
As for the grinding campaign and its affects: "We can rest after the season," Spruill said. "Let's go ahead and get this done."
Spruill is averaging 16.9 points per game. Classmate and co-captain Nyles Evans is averaging 16.1 and freshman Juri Gunjina 10.5. Gunjinsa and Spruill are leading in rebounds averaging 7 and 6.6 respectively. Freshman Ben Patrick is averaging 4 assists per game.
Broward comes into Wednesday at 15-12 overall and 3-7 in conference, a record that belies the dangers it poses to BCC and its quest for the conference title.