College of the Canyons men’s basketball switches up the stat sheet on a regular basis.
Across four games this season, the Cougars have changed the starting lineup, too, with myriad results – though none of them particularly bad.
On Nov. 3, Jude Agbasi lead the team in scoring as Canyons beat Oxnard College 82-70. A week later, in a win over Santa Barbara Community College, Staffon Chiles lead COC with 22 points while Agbasi didn’t reach double digits.
“Everyone on my team can score so I just find the hot man at the time,” said sophomore point guard Denzel Nwanguma. “If it’s Jude, if it’s Zach (Phipps), if it’s my big Anthony (Simone), try and get them involved even more and just keep it going. Because it could change every time.”
Currently, Agbasi and Phipps rank first on the team, averaging 15.3 points per game. Chiles is next at 10 ppg and Simone follows at 8.3 ppg.
While the variety has been nice, the Cougars are seeking a sense of consistency both mentally and physically before Western State Conference, South play begins in January.
“We’ve had different people lead us in scoring every game, which is a good thing,” said coach Howard Fisher. “I think that will probably continue. We are struggling to find more than one voice on the court as far as leadership and we are trying to instill consistency from the group. We have not demonstrated that yet.”
Although the stat sheet may vary, COC certainly has a clear vision when it comes to its style of play.
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With three players measuring in at over 6-foot-5, the Cougars are focused on using their speed and ability to play in transition to win games.
“We like the fast tempo and we pick it up,” Nwanguma said. “We need to work on our defense, that’s about it, but our transition offense is the key to scoring … our big mans can run. We can get the job done.”
One such big is Simone, a 6-foot-7 sophomore. He and Agbasi put in plenty of work in the offseason, hitting the hardwood, the track and the sand pits steadily over the summer.
“Our coach told us that each day we’ve got to get at least one percent better,” Simone said. “Some people try to come in, they try to do all this right and then they end up doing a bunch of stuff wrong. He said anybody can get one percent better. Just consistently do that each day, you’re going to eventually get to the level.”
While Simone and Agbasi are key returners, Zach Phipps is emerging as one of the top freshmen.
In addition to his 15.3 ppg, the Saugus grad has averaged 3.7 rebounds per game and has gotten sufficient playing time at 27.7 minutes per game across three games.
“In practice, we do multiple shooting drills to make sure that when we’re ready in the game that we’ll knock down those shots,” Phipps said. “And a lot of my teammates do get in the gym, like, out of practice. Hours before six in the morning, 10 at night, we get in and get shots up.”
Although they’re still looking for ideal consistency, Canyons is ready to embrace its deep roster and ride it to the ultimate goal: a conference championship.
“Hopefully we win conference,” Simone said. “That’s what I care about right now, conference.”