If the Baton Rouge Community College men’s basketball team’s season ended Wednesday, it would be tough to find someone who wouldn’t call it a success.
But even after winning the Miss-Lou Conference title and ending the season on an 11-1 run, the Bears are out to prove even more as they open play in the Region 23 tournament against Southwest Mississippi Community College on Wednesday.
BRCC (15-13) is listed as the No. 3 seed in the tournament, held at Mississippi College in Clinton, Miss., and will face Southwest (15-9) at 12:30 p.m. in the tournament opener.
“It’s going to be a tough game,” BRCC coach Ricky Wilson said. “They have a bunch of good guards, and they’re a team that really likes to push it in transition. We’re definitely going to have to get back and guard them for them to be able to win, but I think we match up pretty good with them.”
Southwest is led by sophomore guard Deville Smith, who transferred from Mississippi State a year ago. The 5-foot-11 point guard averages 15.7 points per game, shooting nearly 50 percent from the field including 38.3 percent from 3-point range.
Aside from sophomore forward Donovan Ross, who ranks second on the team with 14.8 points per game, the majority of Southwest’s offense stems from the guard play. Eight of the top nine leading scorers are listed as guards on a team that averages just 37.1 rebounds per game compared to BRCC’s 53.8.
“If we’re going to win any of these games in the regional tournament, it’s going to be by rebounding the ball,” Wilson said. “I thought we had a good game against Meridian doing that, so hopefully we can carry it over to Southwest.”
BRCC closed the regular season with a 33-point win against Meridian on Saturday, but the Bears haven’t stopped working since. Wilson said the team took Sunday off of practice, but got together to break down game film.
They returned to the court Monday for practice and a film session, before watching more film Tuesday before their trip to Clinton. BRCC held one final practice session Tuesday night in Mississippi.
“I really was looking at our rebounding, offensively and defensively,” said Wilson, reinforcing his point. “I think our confidence is on a high, which is good. We’re not over-confident. We understand who we are (and) we understand how we started the season and we understand the teams that we played to get us prepared for where we are now.”
Wilson didn’t name any specific goals for the Bears going forward, but said he plans to keep it simple and take each game one possession at a time.
“I think if we can concentrate on each possession, the games will take care of themselves,” he said. “We’re just going to play our brand of basketball and try to get our brand of basketball on the court at Mississippi College and hope that’s good enough to win.”