The Grays Harbor College men hope to run their way to a change in basketball fortunes this season.
Winners of only two games in the past two seasons, the Chokers open the season Saturday at Whatcom with a largely new crew.
First-year head coach Jordan Altman is optimistic about his team’s prospects.
“I think we’ll be able to compete with every team,” Altman said. “Most of our games will take an extraordinarily high effort, but we’re at a point where we can be competitive with anybody.”
One certainty is that the Chokers will put the pedal to the metal in most of their contests. Altman, the son of University of Oregon head coach Dana Altman and a former assistant at several schools (including Lane Community College last year), is a devotee of the running game.
“We’ve had two jamborees and, without question, we’ve been most effective pushing the ball,” he noted. “The slower our offense, the less effective it is.”
The Chokers return five players from last year’s squad, although none was a full-time starter.
Elma High product Nolan Wyatt, a 6-foot-4 sophomore, saw extensive action inside last season and figures to open at one of the forwards. He’ll likely team with 6-4 sophomore post Brett Davis inside.
Two Mossyrock High grads, 6-1 freshman Jordan Bowman and 6-2 frosh Riley Alvord, figure to start in the backcourt, with Alvord handling the point guard duties.
Barry Smith, a 6-2 freshman from Fort Vancouver, is the probable fifth starter at present.
Aberdeen High grad Alex Richters, a 6-2 sophomore, is ticketed for extensive action at a wing. Jordan Hunt, a 6-2 sophomore who red-shirted last year, will also be among the first Chokers off the bench. Darijon Eubanks, a 5-10 freshman from Renton, provides backcourt speed.
The remainder of the freshman class includes 6-3 Tyler Harrod, from Cascade of Leavenworth; 6-3 post Colby Jensen, another member of the Mossyrock contingent; 6-4 wing Jeff Harris from Stadium of Tacoma; 6-6 post Josh Nelson, from Portland and 6-3 freshman Arthur Erholm from Kent-Meridian High School.
Sophomore wing Jordan Dutton, a letterwinner last year, will be academically ineligible until mid-December.
Not the biggest of teams, the Chokers don’t figure to overpower many clubs underneath. Altman is also hoping for selective mid-range shooting.
“We’ve got to work on our outside shooting,” the Choker coach said. “Basically, everybody on the team has the green light to shoot inside 17 feet. I hope we can hit threes (but) I don’t want us to put up 30 or 40 a game. I want 10 a half, at the most.”
Having coached in the NWAACC’s Southern Division last season, Altman is largely unfamiliar with Western Division clubs. Most of those, he noted, are also rebuilding, giving the Chokers a better chance of being competitive immediately.
Former Choker standout and assistant coach Jonathan Hubbard returns to the GHC staff this season, as does Marvin Isaac (an assistant last year).
Grays Harbor athletic director and former head coach Tyler Gaston may also double as an assistant as the season progresses.