Overcoming this year's Turlock roster won't be an easy task for Harvey Marable and the Pitman Pride but if there is any team in the Central California Conference which can dethrone the Bulldogs, it’s the Pride.
Pitman must first, however, overcome the loss of four-year varsity standout Branson Garcia as well as Cyle Williams, who were a force for the Pride just a year ago, leading the team to a 13-11 record.
Luckily for Marable and the Pride, they return a couple of standouts including Jando Diaz, who might be the most complete point guard in the CCC, ranking fifth in the CCC last season with 5.3 rebounds per game and second in assists per game with 3.1.
“It will be our first year, in a while, without Branson (Garcia) so it’s definitely a new look,” said Marable. “It’s also a new challenge and right now I like the chemistry of our guys and how we get along and the energy put forth during practice has been real good. It’s been easy, fun... I mean you don't hear me saying much... it’s really nice.”
One thing that will definitely help the Pride this season is the return of senior Micah Millentree, who missed all of last season due to an injury.
“Micah has great character and we are very lucky to have him back this year,” Marable said of Millentree.
The roster already has more depth than last season despite Garcia and Williams' departure.
Along with Millentree will be a lineup of exceptional talent in Cristian Cooley, Dominick Von Waaden, Takha Gurman and also the speedy and mobile Isaiah Marable.
“What we do have this year is a deeper roster,” said Marable. “We have some guys that will do some things.”
Unlike last season, the opposition won't be able to key in on one or two guys, says Marable.
Whoever faces Pitman will have to worry about every guy potential causing a spark and making a difference on the court.
The defense will also prove to be a staple for this year's team.
"We want to play at our potential, every game and every opponent. We will be prepared and we will support each other on and off the court, because we are always there to compete,” said Marable.
The first game for the Pride is scheduled on the road at Central Valley High at 8 p.m. Monday.