It’s a strategy a lot of basketball teams have adopted the last few years.
Flood the court with smaller players, give the ball to the best play-maker to open up space, spread the floor and work it to the best shooter positioned from long distance to drain the coveted three-point shot.
As the Glendale Community College men’s basketball team readies for another season, coach Vigen Jilizian is reusing what was successful for his team last season: utilizing the three-ball.
“We’ll get up threes,” Jilizian said. “That’s kind of our style. We want to shoot the three and get up and down a little bit. We had success with it last year and we broke the school record for the most threes in a season, so that’s where we’re headed.”
The Vaqueros made 283 threes last season, which translated to 10.5 per game or 36.5 percent efficiency, on their way to placing third in the Western State Conference’s East Division.
Though Glendale college finished 13-14 last season, as it has for the last three years, the difference comes in conference play, where it split at 5-5.
Glendale college ended with a 3-7 record in conference two seasons prior, and heading into his fifth year as head coach, Jilizian knows it’ll be another tough task to rule conference play.
“We’re really going to rely on our perimeter play to get us through the first part of the season,” Jilizian said. “Hopefully [we] get some of our bigs more accustomed to playing our style and understand what we need them to do. That’ll add another dimension to what we have.”
But to equal their performance from last year, or improve on it, the Vaqueros will have to overcome tough situation. Jilizian will return just one player from a year ago, 2016 Burroughs High graduate Steven Hubbell.
Hubbell broke the school record for three-point shooting percentage last season with a 46 percent average. He was also the most efficient shooter at 44.8 from the field.
Though his shooting phased out late last season, Jilizian is hopeful to give his 6-foot returner more opportunity to shoot from distance.
“He can do a lot of things,” Jilizian said. “He’s not too tall, but he’s got a good build. He can get up and down and pass and play defense. He’s a smart kid.”
The challenge Jilizian faces is meshing these players in time for the start of conference play against Barstow on Jan. 19.
“Our goal is to be trying to play at our best in conference, and we’ve done that the last few years,” Jilizian said.
Despite the improvement in conference, the Vaqueros’ effort didn’t help them gain an at-large berth for the postseason last season.
In their third season in the division, the Vaqueros split their series against Antelope Valley, Barstow and Los Angeles Valley, swept the series against Victor Valley and lost twice to conference champion Citrus.
“It’ll be tough,” Jilizian said. “Citrus will be the team to beat again in our conference. They’ve got some good pieces coming back and they’re a school that always attracts good talent. Antelope Valley, they’ll be a team there, too.”
Among other local prospect is Burroughs graduate Amir Montgomery, along with Providence product Tevan Khudatyan.
Eric Ting, a 5-9 international student from Taiwan who transferred to Glendale from Marshalltown Community College in Iowa, has been one of Jilizian’s standouts in practices so far.
Ting averaged 38.3 percent shooting from the field and 42.4 percent from three-point range in 24 games last season with the Tigers.
“He’s going to be a guy that’s a point guard that can see the floor and make right decisions,” Jilizian said. “So we’re really excited to have him along with Hubbell. I think that gives us two of the best point guards in the conference, maybe, playing side-by-side.”
Another transfer the Vaqueros welcomes is 6-1 guard Andre Banton from Georgia Highland College. A more physical presence on the floor, Banton averaged nearly two assists and two rebounds per game and shot 46.1 percent from the field. In a good fit for Jilizian’s model, Banton also shot 31.4 percent from three.
“He’s really athletic and strong,” Jilizian said. “He can finish inside and outside and I think he’ll be a really good defender for us and a guy who can get rebounds in that position. He’s a guy who we’ll really count on this year.”
The Vaqueros started the season against Oxnard in the Canyons Clash Tournament Thursday.
Glendale college’s journey will start with four other tournaments to tune up for conference play: the Wild West Shootout, the Cypress/Don Johnson Classic, the Compton Classic and the Western State Classic.
On top of that, Glendale will face six nonconference opponents.