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INA, Ill. (Nov. 1, 2013) – Rend Lake College is ranked number one in a preseason poll of the top 20 Division II Juco basketball teams across the country. It’s no surprise to Head Coach Randy House and the team, who are coming off a national championship and 30-3 record last year.
The poll was released earlier this week by the National Junior College Athletic Association. Behind RLC is Mott Community College of Flint, Mich., who had a record of 31-5, and in third is Monroe Community College of Rochester, N.Y., and their record of 32-4.
Coach House said his players are keeping team goals in mind despite the hype.
“They knew before we did,” said House. “It’s all over the place. They took it in stride. We have goals and ideas for our team that they kept in mind. Where someone ranks us doesn’t mean so much because we’ve got enough things going on.”
RLC was ranked in the top 20 all last season leading up to the NJCAA DII Championship Tournament in Danville. House said it isn’t a surprise to him that they’re ranked number one this year.
“The National Champions are ranked pretty high, but not always number one. We were in the top 20 all last year, but we’ve never been ranked number one before,” he said. “We’ve got some potential and the possibility to be good by the end of the year.”
With five returning starters from last year’s national championship team, House added they are focusing on working as a team at the beginning of the season.
“We have lots of newcomers who are very talented. We’ve got to work on getting them up to the speed of the game in college ball, and I suspect we’ll have more depth this year than last year. We also have five returning players. All were starters at one point last year, so they have some minutes on their record,” said House, speaking of Montez Buford (Louisville, Ky.); All-American Cortez Macklin (Louisville, Ky.); Jeril Taylor (Louisville, Ky.); Trice Whaley (Jeffersonville, Ind.) and Montez Williams (East St. Louis).
Freshman and incoming players this year include Jauan Akins (Vine Grove, Ky.), Richard Clemons (Louisville, Ky.), Eric Darrett (Nashville, Tenn.), Ruben Gosa (Vine Grove, Ky.), Devontai Halfacre (St. Louis, Mo.), Brandon Johnson (East St. Louis), Paul Knapp (Flora), Parish McCullum (Maywood) and Tim Witcher (Sesser).
The Warriors play their first game tonight against Truman College in Chicago, followed by Elgin Community College on Saturday and South Suburban College on Thursday, Nov. 7. RLC’s home opener will be against St. Louis Community College at 7 p.m. Monday, Nov. 11.
To view the poll, click on the image above or visit the NJCAA online at www.njcaa.org/sports_polls.cfm?category=Polls&sid=5&divid=2&slid=2.
For all things athletic at The Lake, visit www.rlc.edu/warriors.