Fundamentals, including pivots and passing, was the name of the game during a recent practice for the Pima College men’s basketball team.
Working on the basics is usually on the schedule at the start of the season, but coach Brian Peabody said he wants to make sure the team has a solid foundation before starting the NJCAA National Tournament.
The Aztecs won a second straight Region I, Division IIchampionship and are headed to the nationals in Danville, Illinois, again. Last season, Pima made their way to the quarterfinals before being eliminated.
“Last year, we were just happy to be there,” Peabody said. “I think this year’s team is not going to be content until we get to the final four and hopefully win the national championship.”
The rankings and brackets were revealed last Tuesday, and the Aztecs landed a No. 2 seed.
Peabody said he believes the seeding was well-deserved because of the Aztecs’ competitive schedule. Pima played 13 Division I programs throughout the season.
“We didn’t schedule any cupcakes,” Peabody said. “We scheduled a lot of D-Is: Odessa, a team from Utah, a team from North Dakota. And we were 12-1 with the Division I teams. So, I think we’re right where we should be.”
The Aztecs (28-4) will face the 15th-seeded Southern Maryland (19-12) in the first round at 1 p.m. Tuesday.
Peabody and Keven Biggs, who was named the regional championship MVP, both said the disparity in the teams’ records aren’t of importance. Once the national tournament begins, all records start over.
Freshman Abram Carrasco agreed.
“We’re going to treat them like they’re the best team in the country,” Carrasco said. “We have to come out and play because you know it’s nationals. Everybody’s good. That’s why we’re there.”
The Aztecs defeated Phoenix College 73-70 in the region title game to make the back-to-back trip to nationals. Biggs was named as the tournament MVP. Biggs, who redshirted last season due to an injury, said he wasn’t gunning for the award, but felt good to be recognized.
“My teammates were able to get me the ball in the right spots and made me look good,” he said. “So, I’m just really grateful for having them around.”
Peabody said he couldn’t be happier for the redshirt sophomore. After coming back from nine months of no basketball, Biggs was injured again and had to sit out six or seven games early this season, and then made another comeback.
“I’m his biggest fan and there was nobody happier than me in the entire world that was happy he was MVP,” Peabody said.