After getting off to the best start in the program's 89-year history, the Kansas City Kansas Community College Blue Devils have dropped two straight conference games.
KCKCC, coming off their best season in program history in 2010-11 (25-7), started off the 2011-12 season with a school record 12 straight wins. However, teams from the Kansas Jayhawk Community College Conference Eastern Division haven't been as accommodating as the Blue Devils nonconference opponents so far. KCKCC, 13-2 overall and 1-2 in the KJCCC Eastern Division has dropped two of their first three conference games. The Blue Devils, who weren't challenged during the nonconference season, opened up Eastern Division play with a victory over Allen Community College (78-60). KCKCC has since lost to Johnson County Community College (71-68) and Highland Community College (88-86).
The Blue Devils, who returned four starters from the 2010-11 team, average a KJCCC best 96.3 PPG while permitting 63.3 PPG (second best among KJCCC teams). KCKCC has hit the century mark five times. The Blue Devils are also shooting 53.1% from the field and grab an average of 44.1 rebounds per game. In addition, KCKCC has a fantastic turnover to assist ration (278/178).
Leading the way offensively for the Blue Devils through the first 13 games was 6' sophomore guard Brandon Morris. Morris, 17.4 PPG and 6.2 RPG, was shooting 60% from the field and had an outstanding 60-to-26 assist/turnover ratio. 6'3 sophomore guard Duane Smith, who is an excellent shooter, averaged 17.2 PPG and had a 54-to-21 assist-to-turnover ratio while 6'2 sophomore guard Kevin Balque averaged 13.4 PPG and 5.4 RPG. 6'6 sophomore forward Zach Bush, 13.2 PPG and 6.7 RPG, 6'5 forward Josh Rupprecht, 11.8 PPG and 7.5 RPG, and 5'10 freshman guard Mylin Jordan, 11.6 PPG, round out the double figure scorers. Rupprecht is a fervous rebounder and skilled post player who also an ability to knock down three-pointers.
After nearly a month off, the Blue Devils got the conference season off on the right foot with a victory over Allen Community College (Jan. 4). KCKCC, ranked 13th in the NJCAA national poll, shot 46.7% from the floor and had five players reach double figures in scoring. Leading the way for the Blue Devils was Jordan with 21 points. Morris had an all-around good game with 15 points, 6 rebounds, 6 assists and 6 steals. Smith, 12 points, Bush, 12 points and 9 rebounds, and 6'7 sophomore Duke Ezeamii, 10 points, also contributed. KCKCC played without Balque, who is out the first few weeks in January after undergoing surgery for a broken hand.
After extending their win streak to a program record 12 games, the Blue Devils suffered their first loss of the season against Johnson County CC. Saddled with foul trouble and trailing 65-52, KCKCC went on a 14-1 run over six minutes to knot the game up at 66 with 3:05 remaining. However, the Blue Devils didn't score the rest of the way until :05 seconds were left. KCKCC was outrebounded 38-36 and shot 5 of 24 from beyond the arc. Morris and Bush led the way for the Blue Devils with 14 points apiece while Smith and Jordan each contributed 10 points. Rupperecht grabbed 10 boards.
KCKCC, led by Jordan with 23 points and 4 assists, had five players in double figures but fell Highland CC on a buzzer beater. The Blue Devils', who played the majority of the game without Morris as a result of a knee injury, other double figure scorers were Smith (14), Bush (14), Rupprecht (13) and Ezeamii (10).
Other team news:
- KCKCC advanced to the quarterfinals of the 2010-11Region VI playoffs after finishing in second place in the Eastern Division with a 14-4 record. The Blue Devils have yet to win a conference title.
- Head coach John Oler was the 2010-11 KJCCC East Division Coach of the Year.
- Dennis Tinnon, who led the NJCAA in rounding in 2010-11, is playing for Marshall University in 2011-12.
Daniel Benjamin coached small college basketball for two years.