ARC women’s basketball team faces rough start

Dakota Williams and Dakota Williams

Head coach J.R. Matsunami focuses on improvement after 1-2 tournament run

The American River College women’s basketball team started their season on Nov. 10 at the Cosumnes River College tournament. The team left the tournament with a record of 1-2.

One of their losses came from Feather River College by two points and another to Cosumnes River by seven. The team is lacking experience.

“We only have two returning sophomores from last year. One plays and one doesn’t play so much, so most of the time I’m playing three or four freshman at a time,” said J.R. Matsunami, women’s basketball head coach. But that doesn’t stop the optimism for the upcoming season. “The thing about this team is they’re real coachable.”

One of the things Matsunami has made a priority for the team to work on this season is free throws. Against Feather River in the Cosumnes River Tournament, the women struggled from the line. “At the end of the first half, we were two for 15 from the line and only down eight. That was the difference in the game,” said Matsunami.

Along with the current struggles at the free throw line, the team is also lacking size. The 6-foot-4-inch center is sidelined due to an injury sustained during a scrimmage match. “They’re really undersized right now. We’re playing without our 6-foot-4-inch post player, but they’re still fighting for every position,” said Matsunami.

Freshman Mele Kolokihakaufisi, who had never played point guard before this season, debuted with a big game versus College of the Redwoods. She scored 28 points with four steals and was eight for nine from the line. “In the front end of the season to have a point guard that’s that aggressive… For her to take that position, it’s really going to work in our favor,” said Matsunami.

To start the season, the offense has been kept simple to allow new players to adjust to the game. “Eunique Hopkins, a 21 year-old freshman, is a tremendous athlete but (has) no basketball background. This is her first real season. When she gets it, she’ll be an incredible player,” said Matsunami.

The women’s next home game is Wednesday, Nov. 21 versus Gavilan College at 5 p.m.