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Gavilan men’s hoops squad counting on big crop of freshmen
Now this is a fresh start.

After winning just 11 games in the last four years, the Gavilan men’s basketball program has turned its team over to a bevy of wide-eyed freshmen – 10 to be exact.

When the Rams begin their season Monday night at home against Foothill College, they’ll do so without three former starters who are now playing at four-year colleges. Only returnee Jon Morrison will suit up as a sophomore.

Is that a good thing? A bad thing?

Just depends, head coach Chris Shoemaker said.

“With so much new blood, there’s some good and some bad,” he observed. “The good is that there’s a lot of excitement among the guys and they’re working hard and willing to learn.

“The drawback is that none of them have any college experience. When they take that floor Monday night, it’ll be the first time for a lot of them.”

Not so for Morrison, a 6-foot-3 swingman with all-conference potential.

“Jon is kind of breaking us in,” point guard Broc Sondgroth said. “He’s like a second coach out there, because he’s been through everything already.”

According to Shoemaker, Morrison is as athletic as anyone in the Coast Conference. Now he just has to realize that.

“Confidence is the issue,” Shoemaker said. “The only thing holding him back is that he’s not sure how good he is. Once he realizes that, he’ll be a monster.”

To his credit, though, Morrison is quick to complement his new teammates. He seems to have little doubt about the Rams improving on last year’s 4-24 squad, which was reduced to seven players by the end of the season.

“Oh yeah, definitely,” he said. “We’re way better. We’ll be able to play with anybody else.”

Local flavor dots the starting lineup surrounding Morrison. The backcourt should look familiar to local high school basketball fans. Sondgroth, a tough-nosed graduate of Hollister-San Benito High and brother of former Ram Tommy Sondgroth, will team up with fellow 5-foot-8 guard Ron Colmon, a tenacious defensive player from Gilroy High.

In addition, the Rams have added swingman Andre Hayes, an excellent athlete from San Jose’s Piedmont Hills, and Adrian Zamora, a 6-foot-7 forward/center from Watsonville High.

According to Shoemaker, now in his third year at Gav, Zamora gives the Rams “our first legit post player since I’ve been here.”

With all the new faces, Shoemaker said his team is “ready to take a step forward” after a year that saw them win two conference games for the first time in four years.

“By far, this is the most talent since I’ve taken over,” he said. “Better athletes. Better size. And it’s the best character out of any of the teams.

“Those three make for a pretty good combination.”

While conceding it might be a little rough while everyone gets adjusted early on, Shoemaker said the team will not get to the point of discussing the program’s past failures.

“We really haven’t talked about the past at all and we don’t plan on it,” he said. “We’re not worried about what’s happened in the past.”

“This,” Colmon added, “is a brand new team.”

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