Riverhawks making strides in basketball

This year, the mens basketball program has taken steps in a new direction. Donnel Morgan has stepped down and picked up his dream job running a new Boys and Girls Club in Washington. As UCC wishes him the best in his new profession we are left with a new coach and a new beginning for this program. Richard Robles is ready for the challenge that has been presented.

“It feels like we are starting over. It is like a clean slate for us,” Coach Robles said.

The Riverhawks have a large number of local players this year. Joey Lee, Matthew Dickson, Coleton Baker, AJ Wilder, Josh Reber, Kyle Montieth, and Heston Chartier are all from the Douglas County area. Baker was a first team all-state guard out of Jeff Clark’s basketball program at Oakland High School. Dickson, Lee, Reber, and Chartier are also former Oakland players.

“I want to recruit locally. I want the community to know that they have a place to play that when they graduate,” said Coach Robles.

Coleton Baker is averaging 13 points per game as well as 3.9 rebounds and 2.5 assists this season and has really began to step it up. Within the past seven games he has scored more than 20, four times.

“Coleton has really adjusted well to the college game. When he started here at UCC he was trying to feel his way around the program. I think he now has confidence to play here at the college level and has been quite the versatile player for us,” Coach Robles remarked. “We have learned that hard work in practice results with a better experience on the floor.”

Another standout for the Riverhawks this year has been Eliseo Nieves, a freshman guard from Buckley/Bronx, New York. He was out for a few games and the beginning of the year, but sinse then he is averaging 16.42 points per game and 8.71 rebounds.

One of the goals that Robles has set to grind into the brains of his players is that they are a team that should always expect success as individual players and as a team.

“The biggest thing I want to instill into the program is that we are not a bottom dweller. We want to go into each game expecting to win each game.”Coach Robles said, “A lot of teams act like they are getting pumped for a game, but it does not show on the floor.”

Defense is another key point that Coach Robles has been encouraging his players to focus on as the season has progressed.

“If we instill a defensive mindset and make it difficult for teams to score it makes the game easier later within the game.” Coach Robles offered, “The offense will come. Everybody likes to shoot and knows how to shoot at this level, but the defensive mindedness is something that we really need to instill in this program.”

(Statistics are based off of the statistics posted on nwaacc.org. The statistics for the Jan 6 loss to College of the Siskiyous were not posted.)

The Mainstream is a student publication of Umpqua Community College.