By Peter Carrera
Last year, the Miami Dade College men's basketball team finished the season 16-15, missing out on the Florida College System Activities Association State Tournament.
It was a setback for a program that had made back-to-back appearances in the tournament while posting 21-11 records in both years.
Several issues plagued last year's team, such as offensive efficiency, inability to win conference games and rebounding. The Sharks had a 6-9 record versus conference opponents last year, averaged 38.6 total rebounds per game (100th in NJCAA DI) and shot 39.8 percent from the field.
They go into the 2016-17 season with major roster changes and a new head coach after Stephen Cowherd, who served as the team's head coach for the past five years, accepted an assistant coaching position at the University of Louisiana at Monroe.
Kevin Ledoux, who has been an assistant coach on the men's basketball team for the past three years, was promoted to head coach in September.
"We will play fast paced, up and down, as fast as we can go. If we are open then we'll shoot the ball," Ledoux said. "Everyone has confidence in each other, 1-12, and I have confidence in them."
In order to maintain a high-tempo pace, Ledoux said he will be going "12 deep," meaning all twelve players on the roster will have playing time.
Ledoux said the majority of the roster has versatility, but most importantly, perimeter shooting. The main focus on offense will be scoring from the outside, while the size of the forwards and centers will be used to also attack the glass and try to pull down offensive rebounds.
A key player for the shooting and offensive rebounding part of the offense will be returning sophomore Marko Krivicevic.
Krivicevic, a native of Szombathely, Hungary, is a 6-foot 9 power forward/center who can rebound and has an outside shot.
Among the key new recruits is Darnell Dunn, a native of Kinston, NC, is a transfer from Queens University of Charlotte. He is 6-foot 6, and plays the forward spot.
"He does a little bit of everything," Ledoux said of Dunn. "He can shoot the three pointer, he can post up really well, he rebounds the ball well, and he can run the floor very well."
Another notable newcomer is 6-foot 2 freshman Shawn Chandler, who was a McDonald's All-American nominee and was the leading scorer of his high school team at Miami Southridge Senior High.
Cedric Belemene, a freshman who hails from the Republic of the Congo, also brings very impressive accolades. He won a championship with the Spanish national team and was also their leading scorer and top rebounder during the 2012 International Basketball Federation (FIBA) Under-16 Tournament. He was also Spain's most valuable player during the 2014 FIBA Under-18 tournament.
However, he is adjusting to the American game.
"Physicality is very different here," Belemene said. "[In the U.S.] you can go and hit your [opponent] but in FIBA you can't even touch your defender. But I'm really glad to be here. I'm really learning."