The West Coast Professional Basketball League has reached the mid-way point with teams now heading into their final 4-6 regular season games. Although the dust has yet to settle, teams and players are beginning to establish who they are and what they want to accomplish over 16-17 contests during the 10 week spring season.
Thus far, the Santa Barbara Breakers have re-established themselves as a contender after breezing through an 18-0 mark during the WCBL inaugural 2008 season. Respectfully, the Breakers recognize that this will not be a “breeze-through” season as they have encountered to losses and several down-to-the-wire games during their first 10 games.
Very much in the thick of it is the Newport Beach Surf (6-3) who have defeated the Breakers on their home court 116-106 during an early May contest. Led by Coach Kirk Turner and the likes of DeShay Rockett (25.6 ppg); Jason Harris (22.3 ppg); 6’8 swingman Mike Martin (22.1 ppg) and 6’2 point guard Vince Camper (19.2 ppg), the Surf are a force to be reckoned with. They bring defense, aggressive attacking offense to the glass and disciplined play at both ends of the floor. Not to be denied, the Ventura County Jets are the classic “sneak up from behind” squad who have beaten both the Breakers and the Surf, weary to no one. Tree Small, 6’7 forward who led the WCBL in scoring in 2008, is once again amassing stats at both ends of the floor while leading the Jets to a 5-5 record which must and will be respected, come playoff time. Elijah Muldrow
(23.2 ppg) and CJ Johnson 18.3 are backcourt mates who provide a formidable foe for opposing guards with aggressive defense, penetrating scores and the ability to hit the open J from trey land.
Orange County Gladiators (4-4) have entered their first season in the WCBL after competing in the ABA during the 2007-08 campaign. Part of the process is adjusting the roster to find the effective chemistry both on and off the floor. Under the leadership of Head Coach and starting player Tony Farmer (6’10 255), the Glads have taken each game down to the final buzzer and will be in the thick of the playoff run come mid-June.
Once the roster is established, look for the OC unit to make loud noise as they march in their attempt for the WCBL crown. The always dangerous Pasadena Slam have taken their lumps thus far, limping to a 2-5 record. Several of their key players have been missing during various games but as June rolls through, there is no question that sufficient talent is abundant in Owner and Coach Rob Robinson’s camp. Timing and momentum is everything and observer’s of the WCBL fully acknowledge that the veteran play of Horace Worsley, Larry Williams, Robin Kennedy, Eric Holmes, Taron Williams and Lamar Gayle are the best of the best in the League. Throw in 7’2 rookie center Mike Boone and you have a squad of talent, chemistry and raw-hard skills that will create nightmares for opponent’s come playoff time.
Doing it the hard way is the Hollywood Jammers. Starting out with a 1-8 mark, players have been shuffled in and out, defense has been suspect at times, but…..there is no denying the Jammers of a frontline who can rebound with the best at the professional minor league level. Durwin Williams, Donald Jones, Lamar Harris and Robert Banks (6’11) are forming the most effective wall in the WCBL. As they mesh with backcourt stars Wesley Stokes and Chuck Taylor, Hollywood has every right to see themselves competing for the 2009 Championship in Santa Barbara on June 13 and 14.
The grading marks for the WCBL at this point? The Championship is up for grabs. Are the 14 regular season games of any value? Absolutely. Establishing your roster and learning to play together as a team is paramount. But……..nothing can be assumed at this point. No team is wearing the “Cinderella” slippers in the WCBL this season. It will be a “Battle at the Beaches” when the Playoffs begin in June. Who will take the crown? Roll the dice…..take your best bet!