The Lane Community College men’s basketball team has been in perpetual rebuild-mode the past decade, with three different coaches and just one postseason appearance since 2003.
Optimism, however, is on the rise at Lane, thanks to a strong finish to the 2011 season and a sense of stability and progress under sixth-year coach Bruce Chavka.
The Titans, who open the season at home against the Concordia junior varsity team at 5:30 p.m. Friday, fell one victory short last season of making the NWAACC tournament for the first time since 2006, losing a fourth-place tiebreaker game to Chemeketa for the Southern Region’s last automatic berth.
The loss, while disappointing, ended what had been an otherwise productive season for Lane.
“It was a pretty cool year for us,” said Chavka of Lane’s 13-13 season. “We had tons of leadership. We were so close.”
Lane returns three players from last season — all with starting experience — in point guard Darrell Breazell, forward Nick Lindsey and guard Daniel Ketchum. Breazell and Lindsey are expected to start Friday against Concordia.
“We’ve asked those three guys to step in and be vocal, be leaders, set the tone,” Chavka said. “We need that right now; we’re trying to establish our identity.”
The Titans will no doubt have an air of toughness to them this season with the addition of a pair of college football players in brothers Alex and Tyler Coleman.
“Both of those kids bring a swagger,” Chavka said.
Alex Coleman is a 6-foot-3 forward and 2008 South Eugene High School graduate. He played wide receiver for the College of the Siskyous the past two years.
Tyler Coleman, 25, a 6-1 guard, was a football standout for Marist before playing four years of football as a receiver, first at Portland State and then for three years at Eastern Washington.
“He brings a ton of toughness and quiet leadership,” Chavka said of Tyler Coleman. “Everything is by example. Everything is done right. Young people tend to gravitate to that.”
Other additions include 6-2 guard Levi Green from Springfield, a three-point shooter who is battling for a starting spot, and Levi Strandburg, a 6-6 forward from Wilson High School in Portland and another potential starter.
Chavka also made some changes to his coaching staff, bringing in Jordan Altman as an assistant. Altman is the son of Oregon coach Dana Altman.
“He’s grown up at the feet of a pretty damn good coach and really knows Xs and Os,” Chavka said.
“It’s been fun. He’s a good guy. Also, I don’t have to be the bad cop all the time.”
Former Duck player Jay Anderson, a graduate assistant coach at Oregon last season, is also assisting at Lane.
“We don’t know how we stack up yet,” Chavka said. “But our goal is to be in one of those top four spots and get into the tournament.”