Big 8 Hunting

Big 8 Hunting
The basketball season will rev up this week as the Diablo Valley men's and women's teams open Big 8 Conference play at rival San Joaquin Delta in Stockton on Tuesday. 
Both Vikings teams expect to contend for Big 8 championships. They will play their conference home-openers against American River on Friday in Pleasant Hill. 
In an odd circumstance, the mighty DVC (11-4) and Delta (13-3) women's squads will be meeting for the second time in a week. The Vikings beat Delta 81-67 on Dec. 27 in the San Jose City tournament. 
DVC coach Ramaundo Vaughn thinks his team is ready for the highly anticipated rematch. 
"We expect a very hard-fought game," Vaughn said. "They're a very well-coached team and they play great at home. It should be an exciting game. … We are excited about the opportunity. We are the two teams picked to finish one and two, so this game could mean an awful lot." 
In the teams' previous matchup, tournament MVP Jojuan Carrington (Dublin) led the Vikings with 22 points and 18 boards, and all-tourney pick Brandy Williams (Deer Valley) had 19 points and 15 rebounds. Delta is paced by guard Brittany Butler and forward Raynell Lynn, both averaging 13 points a game. 
Delta and DVC shared the top spot in the Big 8 last season, each with 13-1 records, including splitting conference matchupsDelta advanced to the state semifinals, before falling to Mt. San AntonioDiablo Valley lost 69-66 to eventual state champion Chabot in the regional playoffs, coming one win short of a berth in the state final four. 
Carrington, a Division I prospect, is averaging nearly a double-double with 14 points and 9.3 rebounds a game. 
 Freshman guard Antuanisha Wright, who once had a school-record 10 3-pointers and 40 points in a game with Emery Highhad 16 points against Delta in San Jose. 
The young Vikings, riding a five-game winning streak, also earned clutch wins over City College of San Francisco and Fresno City in the San Jose event. So their confidence is soaring entering the final two-thirds of the season.
Men's Basketball 
DVC (8-6), which finished second in the Big 8 last season, has had a lot of time to recover from its most recent game -- a 62-49 loss against Solano on Dec. 19 in the West Valley Tournament. The Vikings played without three key guards: Leon Williams V (torn cartilage right knee), Remy Dillard (shoulder) and Troy Owens Jr. (uniform), who leads the team averaging 11 points a game. 
Dillard and Owens Jr. have returned, and Williams V, the starting point guard, is expected to return soon. Anthony Buscemi led the Vikings with 10 points against Solano. 
"The preseason we had some highs and some lows, but coming out of it feel like we know our style of play, and we know what need to do to have some success," said DVC coach Steve Coccimiglio, who is nine wins away from the 600-win plateau. "So we're focused on certain aspects of game, primarily defensive responsibilities." 
Coccimiglio says they will face non-traditional offenses in the balanced Big 8. Teams will run spread offenses and penetrate off ball-screens or slip-screens and kick passes out. So the Vikings have focused in practice on containment and not getting broken down. 
"We're going to face a lot of 3-point attempts," Coccimiglio said. 
The Vikings' will start the Big 8 season with Dillard (6.7 ppg) and Owens Jr. starting in the backcourt, Damien Banford (9.4 ppg) in the post, and Spencer Clark (7.8 ppg) and Kevin Crosno (5.1 ppg) at the forward spots. Versatile Reggie Arthur-Mixon (8.8 ppg) will come off the bench as a combination forward/guard, and Jacques Carraway (7.1 ppg) is a power forward/post. 
The Big 8 looks ripe for the taking. DVC is among five teams with six losses, and Santa Rosa (9-5) is the lone team with fewer than six defeats. Defending champion Cosumnes River lost its head coach from last season. James Giacomazzi, the 2014-15 Big 8 Coach of the Year, is now coaching at Las Positas. 
  • Matt Schwab