Kaminski, NCC men's team ready for a big second half of basketball season

After a month off, the Spartans, who feature many area products, open second half with a win on Saturday.

Mike Kaminski spent 12 seasons in the high school ranks where there is no break through the holidays.

In fact, playing in a holiday tournament is one of the highlights of the year in scholastic basketball.

So, it was a bit of an adjustment for Kaminski at the community college level to have the season just come to a complete halt for a month.

Kaminski's Northampton Community College men's team came out of the lengthy break just fine on Saturday, posting a 75-39 win over Harrisburg Community College at the Spartan Center to improve to 9-4 on the season.

It was NCC's first game since Dec. 12 and the Spartans' first win since Dec. 3.

"It's definitely a unique situation to have a month off, but Muhlenberg and a lot of the Division III teams do the same thing," Kaminski said. "It's nice that the players get to spend some time over the holidays with their family because that's really important.

"But from a basketball standpoint, it's almost like having two mini-seasons. We had a 12-game stretch from early November to early December and now, hopefully, we'll be playing from early January to the Region XIX tournament in late February and early March."

Lingering frustration made NCC even more eager to get back on the court. The Spartans lost their last two games before the break.

"I could sense in the locker room before the game that the guys wanted to get the bad taste out of their mouths," Kaminski said. "It's tough enough to have a two-game losing streak and then we had to stew on it for 30 days. So, it was a unique situation, but the guys responded very well."

Kaminski, who had been an NCC assistant coach for two seasons under Kevin Foley after spending the previous seven seasons with Doug Snyder at Allen, said he is learning a lot in his first year as a college head coach.

"What I've learned is that you can't put a value on consistency," Kaminski said. "Consistency is the most important thing in the game of basketball.

"I've had the opportunity to coach some great players … the Jalen Cannons, the Terrence Rodericks, the Darnell Braswells … and the thing about those guys is that they were consistent. They did things well all the time. Last year, when we made the region final, we had Andrew Miller [an Easton grad] who brought the same defensive intensity and shooting ability day in and day out."

This year, Kaminski is looking to his four sophomores, including Salisbury product Brent Maron and Palisades grad Tyler Krchnavi, to deliver that needed consistency. The other sophomores are Robert Purnell-Joe from Phillipsburg and Malcolm Lyles from Philadelphia.

"They bring that intensity and consistency to the table," Kaminski said. "Krchnavi is averaging nine points and seven rebounds per game, and it's not like he's getting 21 in one game and four in another. Every night, he's giving us those numbers."

Other Lehigh Valley-area products on the roster include Josh Kaiser and Demetrius Young from Easton, Joe Orender from Notre Dame-East Stroudsburg, Astin Jones from Parkland, Derek Kulp from Northampton and R.J. Fletcher from Allen.

What's important to Kaminski is that the team is not only excelling on the court, but also in the classroom.

"Since Aug. 26 when the school year began, I have been preaching that for us to accomplish our goals as a team, we have to achieve in the classroom," Kaminski said. "Our team GPA is around a 2.7 and I've only lost two players to academics while several teams in our league have lost key guys — top scorers, top rebounders — to academics.

"Fortunately, we haven't done that. We have the nucleus of our team from the first semester with us going into the second semester. That's going to go a long way toward our success."

Kaminski also likes the team's attitude.

"You go right down the line … Brent Maron, R.J. Fletcher … we have guys who are enthusiastic every day," he said. "They show up for practice and they're getting it done in the classroom. They're focused and ready to achieve their goals."

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