Braves on a mission

Have no fear, basketball fans, the wait is over as this year’s Black Hawk Braves Men’s Basketball season is finally upon us.

The Braves are led by Head Coach Darren Bizarri, who is currently on his eighth year as Head Coach at Black Hawk College. Coach Bizarri has an extensive coaching background prior to coaching the Braves. He was the Sophomore Coach at Moline High School for six years, an Assistant Coach for the varsity team at Rock Island Alleman High School for one year, he spent five years as the Varsity Head Coach at Westmer High School in Joy, IL, and if that wasn’t enough, he was also the Assistant Head Coach for two years at Mary Crest College in Davenport. It’s safe to say that Coach Bizarri got into coaching for all the right reasons.

“I had a lot of coaches when I played that helped shape my life, and I wanted to give back and be able to help others. I certainly wouldn’t be where I am today without the coaches that I had, and I think when you have good experiences you want to go back and do the same thing,” Coach Bizarri said.

Bizarri and his coaching staff have a powerful message they pass along to their players every year and that’s to be responsible, accountable, and coachable.

“We have always really stressed responsibility. Do what you’re supposed to do to the best of your ability, and be dependable,” said Bizarri. “We have to know that they’re going to take care of things they’re supposed to do on and off the floor.”

The Braves have a young roster this year with thirteen freshman and only three sophomores on the roster, but that’s not stopping them from believing they can win a Division II National Championship. The team will depend on players such as small forward Tyrone Lewis and point guard Jeremy Blohm to lead the way for the younger players, and display what it takes to compete at the college level. Lewis and Blohm are the only two players returning from last year’s team.

According to Coach Bizarri, the team also has some talented freshman players that fans should keep an eye out for this season. “Blake Lowderman really shoots the basketball, and Markus Johnson is kind of a highlight waiting to happen. He is a really good rebounder, has a good jumper, blocks a lot of shots, and he will get a lot of dunks.”

The Braves will definitely have plenty of depth this season as they will rotate ten to eleven guys on a regular basis. Relying on so many different players to contribute, the Braves understand the importance of teamwork and playing with an unselfish mindset.

“We really preach being unselfish, and that’s difficult in this day and age,” Coach Bizarri explains. “Everybody always wants to look at individuals, and in a team environment that can be a dangerous thing. You really got to get your players to put the good of the team ahead of personal goals.”

The Braves will benefit from the combination of athletic and skill set players which makes for a cohesive team. The strong point of the Braves game will initially be their production on offense. Coach Bizarri noted that it’s a lot easier to play offense earlier on in college than it is to play defense, and with thirteen freshman players there will definitely be a learning curve on the defensive side of the ball.

Sophomore Jeremy Blohm agrees that executing solid defense will play a huge factor in accomplishing the team’s goal of winning a National Championship.

“We’re going to be in some shoot outs, but we would rather have a great defense. We can always score really whenever we want, so I think the defense will be the hardest part,” explains Blohm.

Having a player like freshman Chris Holt on the team will likely be a great starting point for the Braves establishing a defensive approach, since Chris’s favorite thing about basketball is playing defense. “I take pride in playing defense, and playing both sides of the floor at all times,” Holt said.

Having a strong home court advantage could go a long way in helping the team accomplish all of their goals. Some of the players have a few reasons why fans should come to the games and support the team.

Chris Holt and Tyrone Lewis encourages the Braves Nation to make sure they have their heads up, phone on, and camera ready at all times this season. Shooting guard Brandon Cole has a simple but intriguing message to the fans. “Come watch the show.”

Between the high scoring games and slam dunks, there are plenty of reasons for fans to be excited about the upcoming season. However, the most intriguing thing will be watching a young team on a mission to try and put the right puzzle pieces together in hopes of bringing Black Hawk a National Championship.