Top-Ranked Blue Dragons Face Big Test On The Road Saturday Against Cloud County

Posted 3 years ago

By Glen Grunwald

MBB012513The Hutchinson Community College men’s basketball team will put its 20-game winning streak and the NJCAA’s No. 1 ranking on the line Saturday night at a venue that hasn’t always been kind to the Blue Dragons.

The No. 1-ranked Blue Dragons (20-0, 6-0 Jayhawk West) travel to Cloud County (12-8, 3-3) at 8 p.m. on Saturday at the Thunderdome in Concordia.

The game will be broadcast live on Blue Dragon flagship station KHUT-FM (102.9) and on sister station KWBW-AM (1450) beginning at 7:50 p.m. The Blue Dragon Sports Network will provide a live videostream and audio-only stream beginning at 7:50 p.m.

Over the last nine trips to the Thunderdome, the Blue Dragons are just 2-7. Under HCC head coach Steve Eck, who is just two victories shy of 100 with the Blue Dragons, is 1-2 in Concordia.

The Blue Dragons defeated Pratt 85-62 on Wednesday night at the Sports Arena to tie the 1972-73 Blue Dragons for the fourth-longest winning streak in team history. The 20-0 start is already the third-best in team history.

The Dragons shot 50 percent or better for the second-straight game and put together a second-straight defensive gem. Over the last two games, the Blue Dragons are allowing 61.5 points while Colby and Pratt combined to shoot 31.5 percent overall.

A record of 7-2 at the Thunderdome this season, Cloud County comes into Saturday’s game smarting after a 73-53 loss at Butler on Wednesday night. The Thunderbirds shot just 36.2 percent, going a frigid 1 of 16 from 3-point range.

This is a key stretch for HCC, which plays host to second-place Seward County on Wednesday to end the first half of the Jayhawk West season.

GAME 21 – No. 1 Hutchinson (20-0, 6-0) at Cloud County (12-8, 3-3)
Date: Wednesday, January 26, 2013
Tipoff: 8 p.m.
Site: Cloud County Thunderdome, Concordia, KS (Capacity: 1,500)
Radio: KHUT-FM (102.9), KWBW-AM (1450) – Glen Grunwald (PBP), Steve Carpenter (Analyst), 7:50 p.m.
Free Internet Video and Audio:, 7:50 p.m.
Twitter: @bluedragonsport

Blue Dragons No. 2 in NJCAA in all-time wins
With their 76-64 victory over Mesa Community College on Nov. 3, the Blue Dragons reached 1,600 wins in their illustrious history.

The Blue Dragons are 1,617-556, a winning percentage of .744 in their 81st season of men’s basketball.

The Blue Dragons trail only Southeastern Iowa in all-time wins. Southeastern Iowa.

HCC played its 2,100th game on Dec. 4, 2010 vs. Harcum College.

With their 76-69 victory over Seward County on Jan. 3, 2010, the Blue Dragons moved past Moberly Area Community College for second place on the NJCAA all-time wins list.

With a 79-53 victory over Labette on Nov. 1, 2008, the Blue Dragons became only the third NJCAA program to post 1,500 victories. Win No. 1,400 came on Feb. 9, 2004 at Butler.

Blue Dragons in national poll
For the second time in three seasons, the Blue Dragons have reached the No. 1 spot in the NJCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Poll.

HCC moved into the top spot on Jan. 15 after former No. 1 Chipola lost. The Blue Dragons maintained their ranking this week.

Before Jan. 15, the last time HCC was ranked No. 1 was in 2010-11. That team held the top spot for two weeks.

Before that, the last time that Hutchinson was ranked No. 1 in a regular season poll was on Jan. 7, 1992. The Blue Dragons – the starting point guard on that team was current HCC women’s coach John Ontjes – started that season 15-0 and spent one week in the nation’s top spot before getting bumped off. That team finished 22-7 and was Region VI runner-up.

The latest No. 1 national ranking is only the fourth since 1975 for the Blue Dragon men. The 1974-75 Blue Dragons, coached by Dick Gisel, started their season 24-0. That Blue Dragon team finished 32-3, won the Jayhawk West and Region VI crowns and finished eighth in the 1975 NJCAA Tournament.

HCC has now been ranked in 11 consecutive NJCAA polls, dating back to last season.

Start ties for third best in Blue Dragon history
Fast starts under the Steve Eck watch have been nothing new in his four seasons with the Blue Dragons.

This season’s 20-0 start is the third best in team history, surpassing the 2010-11 Blue Dragons. Both teams reached No. 1 in the NJCAA Rankings.

In Eck’s four seasons at Hutchinson, the Blue Dragons have gone 12-2, 14-0, 13-1 and 14-0 in non-conference play.

The best start to a season came in 1974-75, a 24-0 start to a season.

Current winning streak is fourth longest in history
Hutchinson’s current 20-game winning streak is tied for the fourth-longest in the program’s 83-year history.

The current win streak ties the 1993-94 Blue Dragons at No. 4. The 2012-13 Blue Dragons now try to match the 1987-88 national champion Blue Dragons for the third-longest winning streak in team history. That team won 23 straight games during its run to the NJCAA championship.

The Blue Dragons have had 33 winning streaks of 10 or more games in program history and five of 20 or more. The longest win streak in HCC history is 24 games, which was done twice in 1967-68 (coached by Gene Keady) and 1974-75 (coached by Dick Gisel).

About the 2012-13 Blue Dragons
+ The Blue Dragons average 83.5 points per game offensively. HCC is shooting 49.2 percent overall and has shot 50 percent or better 10 times this season, including the last two games. The Dragons are shooting 32.3 percent from 3-point range and is 67.1 percent from the foul line. The Blue Dragons have fallen to second in the Jayhawk West in free-throw shooting. HCC ranks second in scoring offense and leads the league in field-goal percentage.

+ Defensively, the Blue Dragons rank seventh in scoring defense at 68.2 points per game. Opponents are shooting 38.8 percent overall and 28.0 percent from 3-point range. The Dragons are second in 3-point defense and third in field-gal defense.

+ Through six games of Jayhawk West play, HCC is averaging 79.7 points, shooting 49.6 percent overall. The Blue Dragons haven’t utilized the 3-point shot as much in conference play. Shooting 27.7 percent, the Dragons are just 13 of 47 from distance in league play. Defensively, HCC is allowing 68.3 points, 37.9 percent field-goal shooting and 26.6 percent from 3-point range.

+ Freshman guard Kadeem Allen, a three-time Jayhawk Conference men’s basketball player of the week, is fourth in the Jayhawk West in scoring at 16.4 points per game. He has scored in double figures in 17 of 18 games played this season, averaging 18.0 points per game in Jayhawk West games. Allen is shooting 43.8 percent, 34.6 percent from 3-point range and 69.3 percent from the foul line. Allen also has team highs of 68 assists and 47 steals. Allen ranks fourth in the KJCCC West in steals and seventh in assists.

+ Scoring a conference-high 22 points vs. Pratt on Wednesday, sophomore guard A.J. Spencer is second in scoring at 14.6 points per game, which is ninth in the Jayhawk West. Spencer ranks fourth in field-goal percentage at 60.1 percent, while leading the West at the free-throw line (82.1 percent). Spencer is averaging 15.8 points in conference play, shooting 63.2 percent. The sophomore is averaging 6.1 rebounds per game.

+ Sophomore forward Alex Davis has three double-doubles this season and averages 13.6 points per game with a team-high 7.4 rebounds per game. Davis is 10th in the Jayhawk West in scoring and seventh in rebounding. Davis is shooting 48.9 percent from the field and 63.5 percent from the foul line. He has gone to the line 137 times this season, second-most in the league.  Davis leads the Jayhawk West lead in blocks at 2.58 rejections per game.

+ HCC will be without the services of sophomore point guard D’Von Campbell, a UTEP transfer, for an undetermined amount of time because of injury. He has missed four games so far. Campbell averaged 11.4 point and 3.9 assists, which is eighth in the Jayhawk West. He was shooting 40.0 percent from 3-point range with 16 3-pointers.

+ Freshman Tafari Whittingham will also be missing from the HCC lineup. He left Wednesday’s game vs. Pratt with an injury and didn’t return. Whittingham, who started the last four games for the injured Campbell, was averaging 9.3 points, shooting 52.1 percent.

+ The Blue Dragon bench is averaging 20.4 points for the season, but that number has dropped to 14.7 points in conference play. Sophomore Dre Henley is the leading scorer off the bench. After a season-high 18 against Pratt on Wednesday, Henley is averaging 6.7 points, shooting 58.8 percent from the floor, which ranks seventh in the Jayhawk West.

+ The Blue Dragons have out-rebounded only 10 of 20 opponents this season. HCC is plus 1.0 in rebounding advantage, pulling down 40.8 boards per game. The Blue Dragons are averaging 13.3 offensive rebounds per game. HCC is a minus-1.0 rebounding in conference play, pulling down 40.2 rebounds.

+ The Blue Dragons average 18.6 assists per game and 9.7 steals.

+ Hutchinson averages 15.8 turnovers and forcing opponents into 19.7 turnovers per game. The Blue Dragons had a season-low eight turnovers vs. Barton on Jan. 16.

+ HCC is 16-0 at the Sports Arena this season, averaging 83.6 points per game.

+ HCC is 4-0 on the road this season, averaging 83.3 points per game.

Scouting Cloud County
+ It has been an up-and-down season for third-year coach Chad Eshbaugh, who served as a Cloud County assistant under Kevin Muff before taking over the program. The Thunderbirds started the season 6-1 and have gone 6-7 since.

+ In a 73-53 loss at Butler on Wednesday, the Thunderbirds tied a season low for points scored, shooting just 36.2 percent, 1 of 16 from the 3-point line and 10 of 23 from the free-throw line with 20 turnovers.

+ Cloud County currently ranks third in the Jayhawk West in scoring offense at 76.2 points per game. That number has dipped to 61.5 points in conference play with the T-Birds not breaking 60 points three times. Cloud County is fifth in field-goal percentage at 43.1 percent and first in 3-point percentage at 36.5 percent, but the T-Birds are eighth in made 3-pointers at 5.05 per game.

+ Defensively, Cloud County is eighth in the Jayhawk West in scoring defense at 68.5 points per game. The T-Birds lead the league in field-goal defense at 36.5 percent, but rank fourth in 3-point percentage at 31.9 percent.

+ Guard Edward Dyson is the Jayhawk West’s third-leading scorer at 16.7 points per game. He was held to six points on 3 of 9 shooting vs. Butler on Wednesday. Dyson is shooting 44.5 percent from the field with only seven 3-pointers. He averages 5.7 rebounds.

+ Connor McDaniel is Cloud County’s second-leading scorer at 9.1 points per game. He shoots 41.2 percent from 3-point range, which is fourth in the league. He averages 5.5 rebounds.

+ Marcus Fillyaw leads the Jayhawk West in assists (7.0 per game) and second in assist-to-turnover ratio with 133 assists to 51 turnovers. He is second in steals (2.53/game) and is third in the league in 3-point percentage at 42.6 percent. Fillyaw averages 8.6 points per game.

+ Gerrae Williams also averages 8.6 points per game.

+ Cloud County is the top offensive rebounding team in the league at 17.0 per game and is also tops in the West in rebounding margin at plus-12.05. The Thunderbirds average 48.6 rebounds per game.

+ The Thunderbirds are also tops in the Jayhawk West in assists at 17.9 per game.

+ Cloud County averages 16.7 turnovers and 17.3 takeaways per game.

+ Cloud County is No. 1 in blocked shots at 5.84 per game. Alioune Mboup is third individually (2.11/game) and Rodrick Robinson is fifth (1.32/game).

Series history against Cloud County
This will be the 56th meeting between Hutchinson and Cloud County in a series that began in 1967. The teams became conference rivals in the 1996-97 season.

The Blue Dragons own a decisive 39-16 all-time record against the Thunderbirds.

HCC is 22-2 all-time against Cloud County in games played in Hutchinson. The series is tied 13-13 at Concordia and are 4-1 against Cloud County in Region VI meetings.

Since becoming Jayhawk West rivals, the Blue Dragons lead the series with Cloud County 21-11.

(HCC Sports Information)


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