To say the Kalamazoo Valley Men’s Basketball team had a slight turn around this year compared to last would be a bit of an understatement. With an overall record of 21-8 this year they trounced the 7-22 record that was posted during the 2011-12 season. They also bettered their league record by more than tripling their win total from last year and going 10-6 in conference play.
So what made the difference from last year to this year? According to Head Men’s Basketball Coach Matt Dennis, there were two main factors. “Our record from two seasons ago made it seem like we didn’t have good players and we did,” Dennis said. “De’Tavia Moore, Daequan Mitchell-Fields, Nick Hancock, Ian Zawacki, and Chris Ray were all a part of the 2011-12 team and this year’s team. For these guys it was a matter of adjusting to the college game more than anything. Each player improved and became more confident in their second year. The second factor was bringing in talented players to complement the returners. Our recruiting class was solid and it showed in the way we played.”
Key contributors LeDale Griffin, Daquavion McCants Wilson, and Jevonte Hughes all ended up being starters for the Cougars. All helped lead the Cougars to an National Junior College Athletic Association National Ranking of #5 at mid-season. “LeDale, Quay, and Jevonte brought a level of play that made everyone better. Their skill set complimented the players we had coming back and they all had an expectation of being successful as individuals and as a team,” said Dennis.
The mix of returning talent and a solid incoming class of recruits helped the Cougars turn things around and several players were recognized for their play with NJCAA and MCCAA post season honors. Daequan Mitchell-Fields was voted to the NJCAA Region XII All-Region Team, All-MCCAA Team, and the MCCAA Western Conference All-Conference 1st Team. Jevonte Hughes was voted to the MCCAA Western Conference All-Conference 2nd Team and All-Freshmen Team. De’Tavia Moore, LeDale Griffin, and Daquayvion McCants-Wilson were voted MCCAA Western Conference Honorable Mention with Moore also receiving MCCAA Western Conference All-Defensive Team honors.
“Each player deserved the awards they received. These guys worked hard and played as a team and it is nice to see others recognize them for what they have done," said Dennis. "more than the awards, I am most pleased with the fact that all of my sophomores have the chance to continue playing at a four-year school to further their basketball dreams and to finish their degree.”