Judging by statistical categories, it’s easy to see why the Santa Monica College men’s basketball team has gotten off to a 13-6 start this season.
Several SMC players rank high in their specialties in comparison with players from all Western State Conference teams.
Guard Noah Gottlieb is 12th in scoring at 14.6, followed by guard Calvin Mitchell (40th at 8.8), forward Keivan Cross (51st at 8.2), and forward Arthur Braswell (53rd at 8.1).
Braswell is fourth in rebounding at 8.8, Corsair center John Brown is 15th at 6.6, and forward Karl Kindborg 22nd at 5.6.
Guard Chris Blackwood is fifth in assists (4.9), backcourt partner Gottlieb 12th (3.9), and backcourt reserve Mitchell 28th (2.5).
In three-point shooting, SMC reserve guard Ryan Avilez is eighth (43 percent), Gottlieb is 11th (41 percent), and Kindborg is 12th (40 percent).
The Corsairs’ leader in steals, Mitchell, is second among conference players (2.7), while Gottlieb is tied for ninth (1.7) and Braswell is tied for 15th (1.5).
SMC is second to West Los Angeles in team defense, allowing just 67.1 points per game.
SMC won a non-conference game from Pierce College, 71-54, on January 2, lost to El Camino, 77-60, on January 5 and was scheduled to begin conference play Wednesday, January 9, at home against LA Valley.
Although Pierce arrived with an 0-10 record, it was six points ahead of SMC in the first half and was still in front at intermission, 28-27.
SMC then came out aggressively in the second half and moved 20 points ahead.
“It’s human nature,” said Coach Jesse Teplitzky. “Despite our staff trying to caution our players about not letting up, they knew Pierce’s record and weren’t sharp at the beginning. But the lesson was that anyone can give you a game.”
SMC was coming off a tournament championship at the College of the Desert event in which Gottlieb was the MVP and Kindborg and Brown made all-tournament.
With conference play beginning, 20 teams from Southern California will qualify for the post-season playoffs. The Western State Conference will have three berths and possibly four.
Citrus had the best non-conference record (17-1). Valley is 11-4 and West LA 12-5.
The top four teams will receive a first- round bye and the next eight will have first-round home games, so there will be a considerable advantage to be in the top 12. In the most recent poll, SMC was 11th.