A season ago, the City College of San Francisco men’s basketball team headed into the California Community College Athletic Association state playoffs with a perfect record.
So far this season, the Rams (27-1) have been pretty close to perfect and enter the tournament as a favorite to cut down the nets at Cerritos College on March 16.
After losing to Yuba College in the second game of the season, CCSF has won 26 straight. After winning their seventh straight Coast Conference North championship, the Rams earned the No. 1 seed in the NorCal bracket of the playoffs for the fourth consecutive season.
CCSF opens the playoffs Saturday, where it will take on the winner of the Wednesday night’s play-in game between San Joaquin Delta and Diablo Valley College.
For CCSF, sophomore Kori Babineaux, a 6-foot-4 shooting guard who attended Drake University a season ago, has been in a groove of late, averaging 17.9 points a game on 54.4 percent shooting during conference play, and 28.5 points in his last two games.
“He’s really come on strong here late,” CCSF coach Justin Labagh said. “Other guys just aren’t hitting shots, so he’s really kind of put us on his back in the last couple of games.”
While Babineaux has picked up the Rams offensively, Labagh is expecting sophomore guard Dulani Robinson — who is committed to the University of Pacific — to break out of his shooting funk. The 5-9 Robinson has shot only 36 percent from the field in his last four games, and has made only three of his last 18 3-point attempts.
“We need Dulani to hit shots, and he hasn’t been, so we’re making him spend a little bit more time in the gym,” Labagh said. “But he’s tough, and he’s a big game player, and I expect him to have a good playoffs.”
Even though the Rams have beaten opponents by nearly 22 points a game this season, averaging 88.7 points and outrebounding their foes by 12.5 per game, it’s hard to believe Labagh doesn’t think his team is clicking at the moment. He’s hoping the week of practice time will help energize CCSF to the school’s third state championship.
“Right now, we’re not in sync, but the good thing is we played two tough teams in Chabot and Ohlone to finish the season,” Labagh said. “We’ve identified the problem, but we have to get on the same page here, and really control the game on defense. We can’t control if the ball goes through the hoop because some nights [shots] aren’t going to go in for us.”
“We can control how we play defense, and that’s something we’re going to try to do going forward.”
WHO: CCSF vs. winner of San Joaquin Delta College-Diablo Valley College game
WHEN: Saturday, 7 p.m.
WHERE: City College of San Francisco