By Adam Martini
Size matters. Without it, the Queensborough Community College Tigers were overmatched in the City University of New York Athletic Conference last season on their way to a 5-18 record.
“Our biggest problem last year without question was lack of size,” Tigers coach Tom Sinnickson said. “I was the tallest guy in the team picture.”
After the conclusion of a team practice last week, the 6-foot-2 Sinnickson was able speak about the difficult situation and smile. Yes, despite a 1-3 start, there is reason to smile at Queensborough. Reinforcements have arrived, particularly in the frontcourt.
Eugene Turner, Johann York and Herman Vanegas will fill out this year’s team photo and, more importantly, provide the team with much-needed size. All three are athletic, but Vanegas has the best hands and footwork of the group. He has the potential to post double-digit rebounds and points, if he stays out of foul trouble.
Another newcomer, center Steve Smith, at 6-foot-8, anchors the frontcourt. He gives the team a true pivot man, something it did not have last season. His presence, along with the other big bodies, will help on the boards and provide roster flexibility.
Sophomore Jeffrey Boone played center last year at 6-foot-2, but he has grown an inch taller and will slide back to his natural guard position. His strength and quickness make him a more formidable player in the backcourt. The team captain and a potential all-conference player, he can play in the post or drive to the rim.
Over the weekend, Boone recorded a triple-double (22 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists) in a 97-95 win over Onondaga Community College at the Mohawk Valley Community College Tournament in Utica, NY. In a firs-round loss to the host school, he dropped 17 points and 10 rebounds. His performance earned him a selection to the all-tournament team.
“I’m ready to be the go-to guy,” Boone said after shooting a few post-practice jumpers. “But to be at the top of the conference, we’ll have to learn to play together.
Joining Boone in the backcourt are more newcomers. Dimitris Dimitropoulos, Justin Dublin, Johnny Giral and Phil Monde bring points and excitement. Dublin, a long-distance threat, and the others will see minutes right away. Guard Sebastian Prophete, from Queens Village, and swingman Jerrell Smith, a resident of Jamaica, the team’s two other returnees, are expected to provide solid minutes and leadership to the freshman.
Guard play is key for the Tigers, a team that’s at its best on the fast break. Since the running game starts with rebounding, the feeling around the team is positive. But to make noise in the conference, the Tigers must dig in on defense.
Sinnickson points to a “40-minute effort” from his team as the key to this season. Some players took it a step farther, lingering after practice to shoot around. With the sounds of basketball echoing in the background, Sinnickson set a goal for the season.
“We hope to turn things around,” Sinnickson said. “We want to get experience early and hopefully come together later in the season and compete for the region championship.”
New depth and size undoubtedly will help the Tigers improve. Posting a winning record and doing damage in the playoffs, however, remains a tall order.
Reach contributing writer Adam Martini by e-mail at TimesLedger@aol.com or call 229-0300, Ext. 130.