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Mens Basketball is finally upon us

Palomar College mens basketball sits on an empty court between quarters against the San Diego City College Knights on Feb. 5, 2016 at the Dome. (Tracy Grassel/The Telescope)
Palomar College men’s basketball sits on an empty court between quarters against the San Diego City College Knights on Feb. 5, 2016 at the Dome. (Tracy Grassel/The Telescope)

Basketball season has started and the Comets men’s basketball team is looking to improve on its 18 wins in the 2015-2016 season.

The Comets start the 2016-2017 season with 13 freshman and one returning player.

College basketball is a different than high school it is more fast paced and you are playing against better talent than in high school.

Coach John O’Neill is entering his 13th year as head coach of the men’s basketball team. O’Neill started his campaign as the Comets head coach in the beginning of the 2002-2003 season where he led the Comets to a conference title. O’Neill then brought three more PCAC championships to Palomar in the 2005-2006, 2012-2013, and 2014-2015 seasons.

“I’m really excited about this year’s team. We got a lot of talent and a lot of good players. The only problem is that we only have one sophomore that’s played here. So that only gives us one player that’s ever played here at Palomar College, we had another sophomore that transferred in. All the other kids are freshmen and with freshmen things are going to be up and down,” O’Neill said.

The Comets are 2-1 as of Nov. 9 winning against Pasadena City College 83-80, Ventura 67-64, and losing to Riverside 83-77.

The Comets have had many star players in the first three games of the season.

One of them is 6-feet-10-inch freshman post man Keegan Cummins who finished the game against Pasadena with three field goals in eight attempts. Cummins ended the game against Ventura with seven field goals in 15 attempts, with one assist and one steal.

Another is sophomore guard, Kevin Hardyway, made two out of three three-point shots and two out of four field goals, with four rebounds and a steal against Ventura.

One who came in big in all three games is freshman guard Sean Birk who made five out nine field goals and four out of five three-point shots, with six rebounds and three assists against Pasadena in the season opener.

Birk then went 6-14 in field goal attempts and 1-4 in three-point shots, with two rebounds, five assists and two steals in the loss against Riverside.

The star player of the team (according to the stats in the first three games) is Jackson Strong, a freshman guard who went 5-10 in field goal and three-point attempts against Pasadena. Strong also went 4-6 in field goal attempts and 3-5 in three-point shots against Ventura. In the Comets last game, Strong finished 5-10 in field goals and 4-8 in three-point shots.

“We haven”t really been in controversy, but Matt Beeler and Kevin are our two captains so those are the guys that were looking at,” O’Neill said.

O’Neill said he wants to see the team improve as the season goes.

“I don’t base anything on wins or losses. It’s just how we are improving if we’re getting better or whatever. That only the basic goal that we really have is to get better every day. We learn from mistakes,” O’Neill said.

Matt Beeler, team captain and a forward, is a 2016 Poway high school alumni.

“I expect us to be extremely competitive in every game that we’re in. And I expect us to compete at a high level.” Beeler said.

“I think we have really good chemistry on this team,” said Beeler. “You know it’s early in the season, but we’re already a family. It makes it easier.”

The Comets play their first home game on Nov. 25 against Los Angeles Southwest at 7 p.m. at The Dome.

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Mens Basketball is finally upon us