Brooklyn Cagers Off and Flying

Kavon Baker (#15) will be called on for good defense this year for Brooklyn College as he defends against Old Westbury guard (#23) Jamal Little as Brooklyn would go on to win in their home opener on the Brooklyn College Campus.
Photo by C. Gottlieb

The combination of Amil John and Tyshawn Russell in the backcourt paved the way for the Brooklyn College basketball team last year when this duo were juniors. With the additional year of experience they expect to step ‘it up’ another level.

Amil’s father Curtis John played his sports in his native land of St. Lucia, where he was a volley ball player. After their first four games, including a 101-86 victory over Old Westbury, the Bulldogs, as the team is nicknamed, sport three wins to their credit while Panthers are 1-1.

While their backcourt combination is having a tremendous start, one can’t count out, Kavon Baker, a junior forward, who is doing likewise as he became the recipient of the Manhattanville College Castle Classic all-tournament team.

For the home opener at Brooklyn College, a large rowd jammed the gymnasium which holds a capacity of 850. This marks the second year of action in the new building on campus.

The duo of John and Russell in the backcourt could conceivably be the best guard combination in the city, on no matter what level, Division I, II or III. John has big shoes to fill and is the leader on the court.

“We’re the best backcourt in D III and we’re quick and fast,” said John, who scored 16 points and assisted five times against Old Westbury. “We play with each other,. My idol is Chris Paul (of the NBA).”

John was a former bowler and wrestler at South Shore High School, but gave these two sports up to concentrate on basketball when he entered Brooklyn College as a freshman..

“We just want to go out and give it 100 percent every time we play,” John said. “And we just want to stay focused all the time.”

Tyshawn Russell (#3) is a scoring and playmaking guard for Brooklyn College.
Photo by C. Gottlieb

Meanwhile, Russell, one of three players who saw action for 39 minutes against the Long Island college, led all scorers with 34 points in the same contest, a non-league one. And he credits his teammates for his offense. Keiran Halton played the entire game.

“In D III (of the NCAA), we’re up ‘there’ among the top five guards in the nation,” Russell added.

“If these two guys isn’t the best backcourt (duo) in our conference, I don’t know who is,” said Head Coach Steve Podias.. “They play defense, score in transition, run a half court set, shoot, play hard, dive on the floor, and pass. John rebounds (nine against Old Westbury), and Russell is like a foul shooting machine (12 of 13 in the same game).”

In that same game last week, Russell started action off with a drive to the basket,. John then stole the ball and connected for a three point shot with 15 minutes left in the half to put them up 12-3.. With almost eight minutes into the second half, Russell took a pass from John and hit on three point play that helped start a spurt to open up the scoring once again for BC.

Brooklyn College competes and feels very optimistic about this season in the City University of New York Athletic Conference.

“We’ll challenge for first place,” noted Podias. “We’re two years removed from a championship and we came close last year. This team is better than the one we had last year. We’re more together as far as chemistry. We have two senior guards with experience. We’re high on our junior forwards and we have new recruits ready to step in. The team is coming together.”

“We’re going to win the championship,” Russell said. “We’re like brothers. We look for each other.” John echoed his words.

In the first game, Brooklyn’s female team just edged Old Westbury, 72-71, despite Deslyn Applewhaite’s 25 points and 10 rebounds. Tiffany Thompson’s 18 markers and 10 boards topped Brooklyn College.

Steven Grant (#33) provides good movement in the lane for Brooklyn College as Brooklyn would do on to win in their home opener on the Brooklyn College Campus.
Photo by C. Gottlieb

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