Northeast Valley News

SCC men’s basketball kicks off new season

Head+Couch+Mark+Bunker+sitting+in+his+office
Head Couch Mark Bunker sitting in his office

Head Couch Mark Bunker sitting in his office

Head Couch Mark Bunker sitting in his office

Ole Olafson, Reporter

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By:  Ole Olafson

The Scottsdale Community College men’s basketball team began their new season with a bang on Nov 1 as they took on former NJCAA DI National Champion Salt Lake Community College.

“The better the competition, the better we get prepared for conference play,” Head Coach Mark Bunker said.  “They won the 2016 National Championship and they’re a division higher than us.  So it’s one of those things of…Hey!  Let’s start at the top of the mountain and work our way down, you know, and see where we’re at.”

The Artichokes’ early season, non-conference schedule included a variety of club teams, JV squads and DI powerhouses like nationally ranked (7) Odessa College from Texas.  Bunker says these early season games help set the stage for the rest of the season.

“It helps with figuring our early rotation. We run a 15 man roster, so obviously, only five guys can play at a time and we have a lot of new guys this year,” Bunker said.  “I want the guys, whether you’re up 20 or down 20, you’re going to give the same effort…you’re still going to give the same energy.”

Sophomore, shooting guard, Austin Denham sees the method to Bunker’s scheduling.

“I think Coach Bunker scheduled those games perfectly,” Denham said. “With a few we knew we could win, we could put into play some of the things we’ve been working at in practice.  But also, he knew we needed to push ourselves.”

Denham was one of three players that Bunker singled out as exceptional athletes at this point in the season. Denham, a transfer student from Mesa Community College, was their leading scorer his freshman season. The other two are university transfer and current SCC scoring leader Carlos Barella and true freshman Nick Sessions, who leads the team in rebounding.

Aside from any accomplishments the team may make on the court this season, with five Presidential Academic Scholarship award winners on the roster, Bunker is confident the team will shine in the classroom.

“Our GPA is going to be off the charts this year,” Bunker said.  “The expectation is absolutely to be an Academic All-American team and even potentially be the Academic Team of the Year from the national scene.”

Bunker is also confident that his teams’ playing style will be exciting for fans to watch.

“We’re a high scoring, high tempo, team.” Bunker said.  “I wish we defended better, but at the same time we will outscore a lot of teams, so it makes it pretty entertaining.”

All of the Artichoke’s home games will be played in the main gym in the PE building at Scottsdale Community College.  For a full schedule of games and results visit www.gochokes.com.

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SCC men’s basketball kicks off new season