Jesse Teplitzky gets it.
At a media day gathering Friday, September 14, in the Santa Monica College gym, the Corsairs’ new head basketball coach moved miles ahead of fellow coaches at the school.
He was not ashamed to say he seeks publicity for his players; he knows there’s a lot of competition for media attention and desires that Corsair basketball gets its share.
He then introduced all 19 of his players and told something about them.
Neither the school’s head football coach nor previous basketball coach reached out in a similar way. To do so, the coach must make the effort because the school doesn’t have a sports information department.
It could be a coincidence, but both programs have been in a tailspin.
The SMC football team has won only three games in the last two years. The records of the basketball team the last four years are 9-17, 12-15, 14-17 and 11-17.
“I want to change the culture of the program,” said Teplitzky, who went on to say he respects the coaching SMC basketball has had recently and he’s aware of John McMullen’s Hall of Fame career that produced 524 wins previously.
But as far as what has SMC done lately, there’s room for considerable improvement.
One important change will be a November 7 opening game at SMC against Santa Ana, one of three home games that month. In the recent past, the team has played only in early-season tournaments and not been seen at home until mid-January.
Teplitzky states a goal of having 100 percent of his players advance to four-year schools, whether they are Division 1, 2 or NAIA, and earn a degree. He and assistants Joe Cascio and Aaron Landon are sending a lot of information to four-year coaches.
“But from my experience I’ve learned coaches at four-year schools want players from winning programs,” said Teplitzky. “So it’s real important to win.”
Teplitzky will have six sophomores and 13 freshmen. He won’t have some players who gave SMC a verbal commitment but then changed their mind. But that’s the nature of community college recruiting, and the coach and his staff believe they have plenty of talent.
The key returnees are all-Western State Conference point guard Noah Gottlieb, athletic forward Arthur Braswell and vastly improved Keivan Cross
The tallest player is 6-foot-7 John Brown from Ohio, who is currently slowed by an ankle injury.
There is no dominating center, so the Corsairs will full-court press, depend on their speed and turn drivers into Braswell, an able shot blocker.
Shakir Johnson, the program’s most intriguing big man in recent years, was ineligible last season and is no longer in school. The 6-9 center may play for West Los Angeles College, a conference rival.
Among the Corsair newcomers are center Tacus Sidney from perennial power Artesia High, sophomore Derrick Thompson, a transfer from LaGrange College in Georgia and Mactar Gueye, a freshman from Senegal who has been in the United States only two months but has a bandage on his face.
“An elbow in practice,” said Teplitzky. “A welcoming gift.”
The comment drew laughter, with Gueye joining in.