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Gulf Coast basketball teams enjoying hot starts

December 5, 2012  20:39 PM

Jason Shoot/News Herald Staff

The Gulf Coast men, meanwhile, have ascended to third in this week’s state poll. The Commodores (10-1) are riding a 10-game winning streak but face a difficult challenge this weekend in Ocala. GC plays Central Florida (ranked fifth in the state) on Friday at 6:30 p.m. CST, Brevard (No. 10 in Florida) on Saturday at 5 p.m. and Miami-Dade on Sunday at 3 p.m.

“We know this is going to be our most difficult weekend of the season to date,” GC coach Jay Powell said. “There are several reasons. It’s on the road. Central Florida is a team that we beat the last time we played (85-80 on Nov. 9), so they’ll be looking for revenge. It’s three games in three days, which is tough on anyone’s body but especially now that we’ve played 11 games in less than a month.

“The combination of those things is a challenge. We were running sprints at the end of practice yesterday and making the point that we’re going to have obstacles. Like these sprints, we’ve got to fight through it, be tough and have confidence in ourselves to get through it, get around obstacles and keep moving forward.”

Powell said the sophomore leadership on his team has been crucial, and he said the freshmen are improving and making the Commodores more formidable. He said the focus of his players has been top-notch.

“I think we’re playing with a great deal of confidence,” Powell added. “Last summer (assistant coach Jordan Carter) and I sat down. … I wanted us to really build a program around three ideals: Confidence, unity and toughness. As coaches, we don’t need to do anything that shatters a man’s confidence, though I always want to be honest with them.”

Powell said his student-athletes will take final exams next week, and GC won’t play another game until the Commodores host the Gulf Coast Holiday Classic beginning Dec. 28 at the Billy Harrison Field House. He said his players will focus on cardiovascular training and will be required to make 250 shots a day at practice. When they return to school on Dec. 26, Powell said, they will resume practicing normally.

“I will give the guys a lot of credit,” Powell said. “They have stuck together and done a very nice job of staying positive and keeping their mind right. I need to give them credit on that because there’s always the potential for guys missing their family, missing their mother, maybe missing grandma’s cooking. But the guys have done a good job sticking with the program and remaining focused on the task at hand.”

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