Explosive Offense, Aggressive Defense Lift Ocelots

February 12, 2020

Four Ocelot basketball players surround Hawks player in a tight defense

By just about any definition, Schoolcraft College’s men’s basketball team has been a powerhouse this season. The Ocelots have had 11- and 10-game winning streaks, are 21-3 overall and No. 9 in the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) Division II rankings.

“Offensively, we want to play very fast,” coach Corey McKendry said. “We’re very athletic, so an up-tempo game suits us, but we want to execute in the halfcourt as well and dominate in the paint. Defensively, we’re going to aggressively challenge every pass. We’re very deep, so we come at you in waves with man-to-man defense and a lot of pressure on the ball.”

McKendry is in his first full season as head coach. He took over after Abe Mashhour stepped down for personal reasons just five games into the 2018-19 campaign. In four years assisting under Mashhour at Schoolcraft, the Ocelots won three MCCAA Eastern Conference championships, three

MCCAA State championships and two NJCAA Regional championships. 

Unlike basketball coaches at four-year schools, McKendry doesn’t have the luxury of bringing in a player and waiting for him to develop. Instead, players have to come in and contribute quickly. Plus, the nature of a two-year school means there’s built-in turnover every year.

“It is very much like having a new team every year,” McKendry said. “Recruiting is very important. One of the things we try to tell our guys coming in is if you’re coming to Schoolcraft, you’re going to learn how to play with other good players. If you’re coming in to be “The Man,” this probably isn’t the place for you. Our guys come in knowing that they’re going to have to be a great teammate.”

McKendry has built around his three returning players, guard Tre Harvey, guard David Wren and wing Kemon Bassett. Each provides production and leadership.

Harvey leads a balanced scoring attack at 14.2 points a game, followed by D’Quarion Cole (11.5), Bassett (10.1) and Wren (10.0).  Carl Bow Jr. nearly averages in double figures (9.9), as does Zavon Godwin (9.3).

“To me, the beauty of this team is there’s not one guy that you can key on,” McKendry said. “For example, Tre Harvey had 26 points at Mott and played great, the next night we played Henry Ford and Carl Bow Jr. had 28 points. Nobody’s worried about how many points they scored. Everyone’s happy with the win and happy for their teammates’ success, and that’s why I think this can be a really special group moving forward.”

McKendry also credits his assistant coaches, Vitor Imbuzeiro and Tyler Johnson, with helping the team stay focused.

“My assistant coaches do a great job of challenging me and helping me hold the team accountable,” McKendry said.

The next home game for the Ocelots is at 3 p.m. on Saturday, February 15, against Delta.