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Class of the Titans - Tacoma Weekly article about TCC Men's Basketball

Class of the Titans - Tacoma Weekly article about TCC Men's Basketball imagePosted: 12/8/2010 10:46:00 AM

By Rick Walter - Tacoma Weekly: At Tacoma Community College coach Carl Howell has a way of doing things that brings success for now - and for the future.
As the titans of the banking business have shown us over the past several years, there are a gazillion methods of calculation. But in sports, fortunately, the method of calculation is very simple: a win is a win.


And by that method of calculation, the Titans of Tacoma Community College basketball have achieved elite status among the two-year programs throughout Pacific Northwest.


At Tacoma Community College, top players have come and gone over the years - many to play basketball and earn degrees at four-year colleges. But the common denominator in this winning program for several years is coach Carl Howell. Howell has turned so many kids who were not quite ready for the big college experience into successful young men that he has earned the esteem and trust of those in the highest levels of college basketball. He is their go-to guy when they find a player they like who needs a bit more seasoning.


As a result, Howell has been able to attract talented basketball players year after year. This season is no exception, as the Titans boast a roster of players who were all among the best of their high-school conferences.


"He has a reputation for developing these guys," assistant coach R.J. Barsh said.
"He is demanding of them and teaches them to take pride in everything they do.
Howell wants them to sit in the front of the classroom, to be active in the community, Barsh said, and when they leave, they have learned a lot about basketball, but they've also gained self-esteem and confidence through achieving success by working together as a team, he added.


"He doesn't care what you did before you got here. All of these guys were the best players where they came from, but they needed to develop and mature and he knows how to do that."


As coach Howell begins his 13th season with the Titans, his teams have won 76 percent of their games. After last weekend's victory of Everett, his team is 2-0 this season, and his career-wins total is 292.
Last season, the Titans finished with a 25-4 record, placing third in the NWAACC tournament.


Howell came to TCC in 1992 and coached until 2003, before joining the coaching staff at Eastern Washington University from 2003-07. Howell had, by any calculation, a successful experience there, recruiting future NBA star Rodney Stuckey and others and helping the Eagles reach the Big Sky Conference Championship.


Howell returned to TCC as athletic director and men's basketball coach two seasons ago and guided the Titans to a 26-5 record and an elite-eight appearance at the NWAACC in 2009.


With a legacy that includes the 2002 NWAACC championship and 30 players who have progressed from TCC to play at four-year schools (17 to Division 1), Howell is not only not slowing down, he is bringing all of his recruiting acumen and tough-minded coaching to the Tacoma campus with more intensity than ever.
Players and fans at TCC games are accustomed to the dapper Howell relentlessly pacing the sidelines with his eyes focused like lasers on the court, picking up every mistake, no matter how nuanced, and gesturing with what can be described as animated intensity.


The man who has been by his side, Barsh, said, "he doesn't miss anything, anywhere on the court. If you have a weakness in your game, he'll expose it."
Why do so many players thrive at TCC under Howell?


"He has high expectations for these guys that come to play here, and he insists that they have high expectations for themselves and the team. He is fair and he is consistent. He is extremely hardworking and conscientious. He takes nothing for granted and doesn't want his players or coaches to. Players respond to the whole package, obviously," Barsh said.


The Titans are fielding a team this season that includes five sophomores and eight freshmen from a stellar recruiting season.
Two of the sophomores, former Wilson standout Jordan Coby and former Franklin star Chris Holmes have signed letters of intent with Central Washington University.
Among the freshmen on the team are 6-foot-9-inch post player Kevin Davis from Todd Beamer, Nate Walker from Foss' state semifinalist team of 2009 and Dominique Williams a standout from Curtis.


The rest of the Titan roster includes Jarrell Canaday-Banks from Mt. Rainier in DesMoines, JeRae Johnson and Leon Nelson from Franklin, Brandon Magee from Bethel, Geoff McIntosh from Gig Harbor, Tre Tyler from Kentwood and Marcellis Thomas from Detroit.
"We're looking forward to seeing what this group can do. It has as much potential as any we've had here," Howell said.
It's always a process, sometimes slow at the beginning of the season, for the players to find their roles and for Howell to put the pieces of the puzzle together.
"Every season it's a new creation," Howell said.
The Titans begin this season's quest a little nicked, but the team, after an opening-season 81-70 win against Northwest Indian College, fought through a good challenge from Everett last week, winning 79-73, while showing good poise and execution down the stretch.
Coby missed the game, still healing a broken hand he suffered in October, and Geoff McIntosh twisted an ankle early in the game. Both players are expected to play against Seattle Community College on Dec. 11 at TCC.
Against Everett, Banks led the Titans with 23 points, and Magee had 21. Holmes had a good all-around game, scoring 15 points and taking down 10 rebounds.
Davis brought the crowd to its feet with a spectacular jam late in the game that gave the Titans a critical four-point lead.
Walker, from Foss, played 20 minutes and grabbled seven rebounds and scored five points, including a clutch 8-foot turn-around jumper in the closing minutes.
At halftime, with the Titans leading, 42-37, coach Howell was fuming as he headed to the locker room.

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