Help is on the way as Lane men work to improve

12/07/2012 11:35

Lane’s men’s basketball team is off to a 5-1 start after stocking up on young, athletic players

Published: December 7, 2012 12:00AM, Today

When last season ended for the Lane Community College men’s basketball team with the Titans just a couple of wins short of making the postseason, coach Bruce Chavka lamented his team’s lack of a consistent scoring option behind guard Tyler Coleman.

That’s not an issue anymore.

Six games into a new year, Coleman is again averaging 17.2 points for the men’s basketball team, but he no longer is Lane’s leader.

Newcomer Jeff Fields, a 6-foot-4 sophomore guard from Baltimore, is averaging 18.6 points and 7.4 rebounds for the Titans, who are 5-1 and ranked sixth in the coaches poll heading into this weekend’s Dale Bates Tournament at Lane.

“He’s just a tough, hard-nosed kid,” Chavka said. “He’s a nice addition to what we’re doing.”

And right behind Coleman and Fields is freshman Keynan Middleton, a 6-3 guard out of Milwaukie High School southeast of Portland, who played in the OSAA Class 5A championship game last winter. Middleton averages 12.2 points and five rebounds.

“He’s been pretty good for us too,” Chavka said. “He can shoot it, dunks real easily. Between him, Jeff Fields and Tyler Coleman, we’re doing OK in the scoring department.”

The Titans will open their three-day, eight-team, double-elimination tournament at 2 p.m. today against the Linfield JV team. Today’s other games are College of the Redwoods vs. Portland Community College at 4 p.m., Pierce vs. Southwestern Oregon at 6 p.m. and Umpqua vs. Spokane at 8 p.m.

The winners of Games 1 and 2 will meet at 6 p.m. Saturday. The winners of Games 3 and 4 will meet at 4 p.m. The championship game will be played at 2 p.m. Sunday.

Lane finished 11-15 overall last season and in sixth place at 5-9 in the South Region of the NWAACC.

The top four teams from each of the NWAACC’s four regions make the postseason tournament, and the Titans were just a pair of wins from contending for the South’s fourth spot, which went to SWOCC after it finished with a 7-7 league record, including an 80-75 victory over Lane late in the season.

But the Titans are off to their best start in seven years under Chavka, who is getting solid production from not just Fields and Middleton but other newcomers as well, including sophomore transfer point guard Alex MacNeil (9.0 ppg, 5.5 rpg) from Corvallis and freshman forward Tre Clark (4.2 ppg, 6.0 rpg) from Vancouver, Wash.

“We’re pretty aggressive, pretty athletic,” Chavka said. “In my recruiting last year I definitely wanted to upgrade our athleticism and we did that and it’s showing right now.”

Key returners include Coleman, a 6-1 sophomore, and his brother Alex Coleman, a 6-3 sophomore forward whom Chavka described as a “glue guy” and vocal leader of the team.

“The Coleman brothers are doing a hell of a job for us,” Chavka said. “We’re fortunate to have both guys back. They’re the heartbeat of our program.”