Suspensions. Injuries. Overtime losses. The Foothill College men’s basketball team has endured more hardships in a month than some squads do in a year.
“It’s been quite an adverse start,” said coach Shanan Rosenberg, whose team lost four of its first seven games, “but we’re finally getting some sun on our backs.”
Leading scorers Kyle Hypes and Shawn Grant have recovered from ankle injuries, and Rosenberg hopes the five players he suspended for a few games have learned their lesson.
“They’re good kids – not deviants,” he said. “They just needed to understand that they have to do things the right way.”
With 10 freshmen among his 14 players, Rosenberg knew the Owls would have some growing up to do – on and off the court.
“We’ve had two overtime losses and lost double-digit leads,” he said. “That’s a youthful thing, not knowing how to close games.”
Although this may be the youngest team Rosenberg has coached in his nine years at Foothill, he sees playoff potential.
“I’m encouraged and optimistic – the pieces are there to be really solid,” the St. Francis High graduate said. “I have faith we’re going to get better.”
Rosenberg has good reason to believe. The Owls lack experience – not talent.
Grant has both. The sophomore last season played at the University of Maryland-Baltimore County, an NCAA Division I school.
“Shawn is not that vocal – he’s new – but certainly he’s been very positive with his teammates,” Rosenberg said of the 6-foot-4 wing player. “And he’s been tremendous at playmaking and sharing the ball.”
Grant played with Hypes at St. Francis, leading the Lancers to the Northern California Division II final in 2009. Grant was named West Catholic Athletic League Co-MVP that year.
He and Hypes – the lone sophomores in the Owls’ lineup – each average 11 points and five rebounds per game. Hypes, a 6-3 point guard, tops the team in assists.
“Kyle’s a leader,” the coach of the team captain. “His worth ethic is contagious and he has good communication skills.”
Foothill’s three other starters – guard Jordan Reudy and forwards Freddy Eberheardt and Rakeem Williams – average nine points each.
The 6-1 Reudy, a Serra High graduate, “is crafty, athletic and can take it to the rim and score,” Rosenberg said. “He’s smart, tough and has great body control.”
Eberheardt and Williams, both listed at 6-4 and 220 pounds, come from Bellarmine Prep and John C. Fremont High (Los Angeles), respectively. Eberheardt, “is versatile and a tough matchup,” the coach said, because he can shoot 3-pointers and play inside. Williams “has a nice shot, is a monster in the post and a very good rebounder,” Rosenberg said.
Three more freshmen are key reserves: point guard Ben Neves (from Westmont High), forward Jimmy Renneke (Willow Glen) and center Bill Collier (Thurgood Marshall). The 5-11 Neves “has been terrific off the bench,” Rosenberg said, while the 6-5 Renneke is “a really good 3-point shooter.” The 6-6 Collier proved extremely accurate from the field (13 of 17) and foul line (8 of 9) in his first seven games.
Relying on so many young players could make it difficult to win the stacked Coast Conference North Division, but Rosenberg isn’t about to count his team out.
“We should compete for a spot in the top half of the conference and possibly win it – we should be right there,” he said. “We want to get in the state playoffs again and see what happens.”
Foothill, in the playoffs seven of the last eight years, reached the quarterfinals last season.
The Owls are scheduled to play in the West Valley Tournament Friday through Sunday.
Foothill women roll
Bouncing back from a disappointing finish at a tournament the previous weekend, the Foothill women captured the Santa Rosa Invitational Saturday.
The Owls went 3-0 and knocked off two teams ranked higher than them: Delta and City College of San Francisco.
Foothill, ranked fourth in Northern California, routed Redwoods 107-56 in Thursday’s opener. The Owls beat No. 3 Delta 71-61 Friday and No. 2 San Francisco 89-86 in Saturday’s final.
Foothill, which trailed Delta by nine at halftime, overcame a 12-point deficit in the second half against San Francisco.
“We kept fighting,” coach Jody Craig said of her 8-3 Owls. “We grinded our way back.”
Kindra Jones’ layin off a pass from the driving Raeshel Contreras put Foothill up 87-86 with 44 seconds to play and Addie Schivo added two free throws with 10 ticks left. Contreras was named tournament MVP.