Back in Blue: Riverland is hoping to keep going after historic season

Published 5:42 pm Wednesday, October 26, 2022

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Last year, the Riverland Community College men’s basketball team did things that many never saw possible.

The Blue Devils advanced to the NJCAA Division III tournament and finished with a record of 31-2 overall in what was one of the best seasons in program history. Now, the Blue Devils enter the season with a No. 4 ranking and a lot of raw talent as they hope to recapture last season’s magic.

“The bar keeps getting higher and higher. We’ve had years where we thought we were the best we can be and then we keep getting better,” RCC head coach Derek Hahn said. “There’s pressure that comes from success, there is no doubt about that. But at the same time, success brings better recruits and we have some kids that were All State last year. We have high aspirations and we’ll see where we get.”

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The Blue Devils have a big freshman class coming in as sophomore Malik Cooper, a native of Miami, Florida, is the only player with significant playing experience. Cooper was a sharpshooter who came off the bench last season, but he’ll be one of the top leaders on this year’s squad.

“I have a much bigger role. There are a lot of new guys here and I have to be a lot more talkative,” Cooper said. “We’ve got to get to know each other and become a team and we’ve got to build a bond. Last year we had a great bond.”

Hahn said the hardest part about his job this time of year is sorting out who will play the most minutes. He’ll use the non-conference portion of the season to figure out who can help him.

“We’ve got a few guys who practiced with us last year that will be back and we’ve got some transfers and some good freshmen,” Hahn said. “Our freshmen are going to have their fingerprints all over this team. We’ve got a lot of guys that can play and it’s about finding that top 10 and seeing who’s going to help us.”

RCC will play at Fon du Lac Tribal and Community College on Nov. 2 and it will host Fon du Lac at 4 p.m. on Nov. 12.