Roxbury Community College (RCC) men’s basketball coach Kwami Green, after losing his best friend and long-time assistant coach to a sudden death this offseason, contemplated leaving behind his passion for inner-city hoops.
In January, when his point guard was killed, and a 16-man roster shrank to six, Green realized that leading RCC is exactly where he needed to be. Green explained to Breitbart Sports, “There are so many things that can go wrong at this level that sometimes make the job impossible.”
The 2014-2015 season at RCC was never about X’s and O’s. Instead, it has been a litany of untimely lows followed by one big high. Consequently, Coach Green plays the role of Dr. Phil more than Phil Jackson.
“Violence, money woes, living situations, poor study habits, aloofness, and down-right immaturity all hit us like a Boston blizzard,” Green told Breitbart Sports.
On Sunday, the RCC men’s basketball team defied the odds by becoming Region 21 Junior College (JuCo) champions after beating Springfield CC while qualifying for the JuCo National Tournament this weekend in New York.
Amid the second-semester obstacles, Green maintaining a functioning RCC basketball team has appeared as a minor miracle.
RCC’s undeserving dose of adversity began when Boston coded its first homicide victim of the new year, 24-year-old Alex DoSouto of Dorchester.
Dosouto, the part-time starting point guard for the Tigers, enrolled at RCC in the fall. He had hoped to leave a checkered teenage criminal history in his past, but a gunman targeting him and three others shattered his dream of a better future.
“Our last game against Springfield was a dedication game. We dedicated that game to Alex and all of our mothers, and it worked,” Green told Breitbart Sports.
While praying for their fallen teammate and the women who raised them, the Tigers probably sensed that prayer needed to suit up for the roster-depleted Tigers. They will need prayer in the first round of the nationals today.
“I could give you a million reasons why after starting with 16 players, finishing with only six happened,” Green explained.
The veteran coach says the Tigers, who don’t offer athletic scholarships, lost eight total players in December for financial holds, academic issues, and red-shirting, while two players disappeared without explanation. Two weeks after the curtain opened on the spring semester, Dosouto was killed and another role player injured his back, dropping the RCC roster to six eligible players.
Basketball seasons typically run as marathons. But in D3 junior college athletics, second semesters typically witness teams limping, rather than sprinting, to March’s finish line.
While RCC spent the early part of the 2015 calendar getting knocked down, starting wings Charlie Araujo and Theo Oribhabor launched their new year by punching back.
“Charlie is second in the nation in scoring and unfortunately did not receive enough votes from the coaches in the region to be selected All-American but last I checked everyone else is at home right now,” joked Green.
Araujo, the team’s leading scorer, receives four-year college interest from Rollie Massimino’s Northwood University as well as D1 Winthrop and D2 Franklin Pierce.
“Charlie can catch you off the dribble, and he’s not fast but once he puts his shot up he knows how to use his body and use the glass. And it’s crazy, he can shoot it as far out as he wants,” said Green.
Theo Oribhabor is the team’s second leading scorer, and like Araujo, he has Coach Green’s ultimate green light as soon as he steps on the floor. Green pointed out, “Theo can get to the basket every time he touches. There’s nothing teams can do with that.”
But in spite of having two of the most prolific wings in New England JuCo, Green understands that a roster going six deep warrants a dosage of “whole” bigger than “parts.”
“With this group, they just come together as a team, cheering for each other and pushing each other to do what it is they need to do,” said Green.
While RCC’s shallow bench and its 16-10 record are hardly intimidating, Green is grateful that his team’s best basketball arrives at just the right time.
“They’ve done a great job. They’re not perfect. That’s why I have them. I always knew that eventually the light was going to come on, but ‘when’ was the question.”
When asked about their chances against top-ranked Rock Valley (IL) on Thursday in the national tournament, Green waxed: “We do what we have to do with what we got. We’ll just make it happen.”
That’s what they have been specializing in all season.
RCC takes on top-ranked Rock Valley (IL) in Thursday’s D3 JuCo National Championship tournament at SUNY-Sullivan CC.