SACRAMENTO, Calif.- Since head coach James Giacomazzi took over the Cosumnes River men's basketball program in 2004, the Hawks have emerged as perennial postseason contenders, as well as potential Big 8 conference champions. Since 2005, Coach Giacomazzi's Hawks teams have averaged nearly 20 wins per season, and won the Big 8 conference championship in 2010. CRC has also made three CCCAA Sweet Sixteen appearances, with two in the last four seasons. The 2013-14 Cosumnes River men's basketball team looks poised for another postseason run, as they compete for another Big 8 conference championship.
The CRC men's basketball team has experienced its share of success during Coach Giacomazzi's tenure, and as the coach enters his tenth season at CRC, there's plenty to be optimistic about heading into the 2013-14 season. Despite mounting injuries and inconsistent play from a young Hawks roster during the 2012-13 season, as well as losing six games by four points or less, the Hawks remained in playoff contention until the final day of the season. The Hawks also recorded some impressive victories over the season defeating Big 8 rivals American River and Delta, as well as Yuba, all of whom appeared in the CCCAA playoffs last season. With added depth at a number of key positions, as well as a standout class of impact freshman and transfers, Cosumnes River will look to make an impact in the Big 8 title race this year.
The 2013-14 Cosumnes River men's basketball team returns three players from last season's roster. However, all played key roles during the 2012-13 season and will provide the team with valuable veteran leadership. The team also returns one redshirt that will look to make an impact this season. Leading this group will be returning forward Jaycob Velasco, a 6-7 post out of Pleasant Valley High School in Chico. Velasco appeared in 27 games last season, starting every one, and averaged 12.6 points and 7.3 rebounds per contest. He was second on the team in points and first on the team in rebounding, while playing his way to All-Big 8 honorable mention recognition as a freshman. Also returning to the Hawks will be two starters from last year's backcourt, in Rodney Cook and Brenden Glapion. Cook, a 5-11 guard from Bethel High School in Vallejo, appeared in all 29 games last season as the team's starting point guard. He averaged 8.6 points, 3.1 rebounds, as well as 4.3 assists as a true freshman. Also returning to the team's backcourt will be sophomore Brenden Glapion. Glapion, a native of San Francisco who transferred to CRC from Seattle University a year ago, appeared in 28 games last season for the Hawks and started the team's final 17 contests. He was also the recipient of the CRC Scholar-Athlete award, finishing the year with a 4.0 grade point average.
The list of newcomers includes a pair of sophomore-transfers who will make their debuts with the Hawks this season. Guard AJ Bridges, a former standout point guard from nearby Monterey Trail High School, is coming off a redshirt season after transferring from Fresno City College. Also joining the Hawks this year is NJCAA transfer forward TJ Williams. Williams, a 6-5 forward out of Tracy High School, comes to the Hawks via Northeastern Oklahoma A&M. Both players have made an impact over the preseason, and look to factor heavily in the team's rotation this season.
Joining these sophomores (pictured right) will be a standout group of freshman, as CRC boasts one of its best recruiting classes in years. Heading to CRC for the 2013-14 season will be 6-9 forward Daiveon Leverett out of Weston Ranch High School in Stockton. Leverett was a nationally-ranked prospect who led his team to three-straight Northern California regional state playoff appearances. Also joining the Hawks this season is All-State guard Andrew Johnson out of Nevada. Johnson, a two-time All-State selection and ESPN pre-season All-State selection, led Hug High School of Reno to a 24-4 record and an appearance in the Nevada State Championship game against national power Bishop Gorman as a senior. Playing alongside Leverett in the frontcourt will be a pair of local post prospects who put together stellar senior seasons last year. Semir Cahtarevic, a native of Bosnia and Herzegovina, is a 6-7 post player who saw time as a point forward at Del Campo High School last season. Joining Cahtarevic will be David Straughter from nearby Luther Burbank High School. Straughter, a 6-5 forward, was a four-time letter winner for the Titans who earned a Cal-Hi Sports All-State nomination as a senior.
In addition to Johnson, the Cosumnes River backcourt will feature three freshmen who will look to solidify the one, two and three positions for Hawks this year. Joining Johnson will be 6-3 guard Joe Barnes out of Sacramento High School. Barnes, who averaged 11.3 points, 6.3 rebounds, 1.6 assists and 2.0 steals per game as a senior last year, earned many postseason accolades including All-Metro honorable mention honors from the Sacramento Bee. Joining Barnes will be a pair of guards coming to CRC from prep schools on the East coast. Nelson Gonzalez, a 5-11 guard from Boston, comes to CRC following a post-graduate year at Rise Academy in Philadelphia. Mitchell Love, a 6-2 Sacramento native who played a post-graduate year at St. Ignatios Prep in South Carolina, also joins the Hawks for the 2013-14 season. Prior to heading back East, Love was a standout combo guard at Luther Burbank High School, where he led the team to the section playoffs his senior year.
This year's Hawks roster is evenly balanced, as the roster features five post players and seven guards, giving CRC some of the best depth the team has had in years. Cosumnes River has a deep rotation of five quality posts, as well as a number of versatile guards who can see action at a number of different positions on the floor. In the post, Velasco and Leverett will man the starting four and five spots for the Hawks, with Williams contributing to the rotation off the bench. Cahtarevic and Straughter will provide the frontcourt with depth, and will look to carve out their roles as the season goes forward.
The status of the backcourt is a little more uncertain heading into the season's opening weekend, given the quality play of all seven guards on the roster. Sophomores Bridges and Cook will man two of the starting guard positions heading into the weekend, with the third starting guard spot still up for grabs. According to Coach Giacomazzi, knowledge of what to do on the offensive and defensive ends of the floor, as well as executing the game plan will determine who starts in the backcourt during the opening tournament. That being said, everyone in the backcourt will see playing time immediately in order for the CRC staff to see how the team responds in game situations.
Cosumnes River opens the season with a challenging schedule, including five preconference tournament appearances, before the team opens Big 8 conference play in January. CRC opens the year against Lassen on November 7th in the San Jose City College Tip-off Classic. The Hawks return home later this month when they will host the James Clark Classic at CRC. Cosumnes River will open against Columbia College in the eight-team tournament which runs from November 21st through the 23rd. Cosumnes River will close out their preconference schedule with three tournaments in December. The Hawks open the 76th MJC Basketball Tournament on December 3rd against Reedley College. The sixteen-team, double-elimination tournament, closes out later that weekend. CRC will then travel to Susanville to participate in the 1st Annual Lassen CC Classic, where they will take on Simpson in the opener. They'll finish out their preconference schedule around the new year in Hayward, when they face the College of Alameda in the Chabot College Holiday Classic (Dec. 28-30).
CRC opens Big 8 conference play in January on the road against Diablo Valley (Jan. 7). The Hawks conference home opener is scheduled for January 10, when they will play host to crosstown rival American River. Sophomore night will take place on February 18th during the Hawks Big 8 conference game against Modesto JC. The team will close out their Big 8 schedule later that week on the road, against Santa Rosa (Feb. 21).