Sports

OC coach pulling out all the stops

To say things were looking bleak last spring for the Olympic college mens basketball team would be putting it lightly.

Two-year coach Reece Gliko (who had a 24-29 record) resigned abruptly at the end of last season and there were only one returning player on the roster and only one recruit ready to come on board.

So new coach Billy Landram had to start from scratch, a difficult task for the former North Mason stand-out who was still teaching in the Kent School District when he was hired.

“Most players from the area already committed somewhere, so I didn’t get a true recruiting process,” said Landram, a former player at OC (1997-99) who now teaches elementary school in his hometown of Belfair. “But I tried to get the best players out there possible.”

So using every contact he could think of, Landram recruited guys ranging from Los Angeles to Georgia to go along with returner Will Pence and South Kitsap recruit Nate Sietz.

“There were a lot of open gyms and checking guys out everywhere to see who could play,” Landram said. “I called a lot of people that used to coach me, guys I played with, whoever I could find.”

He also convinced Central Kitsap grad Cory Smith and starting post D.C. Egge to come back for another season. Egge didn’t plan on coming back to the Rangers after last season as he had an offer to play closer to home at Montana State-Billings, but a conversation with Landram changed his mind.

“Montana State-Billings called at the end of the year and I tried out for them, but I decided to come back to get my degree like I intended to do,” said Egge, one of three Rangers listed at 6-6 along with freshmen North Kitsap products Shawn Kelly and Devin Reed. “That way I can get another year and then see what happens.”

Don’t expect the Rangers to depend so much on the deep ball as they did in the Gliko era when the team lived and died on its three-point shot.

“We’re more focused on defense than we were last year,” Egge said. “We’re going for defensive rebounding because we’re shorter and not as strong as we were last year.”

“Defense, lots of defense,” Sietz said of how practices have gone. Sietz has added some considerable muscle to his lean frame after taking the Wolves to the 2003 Class 4A state playoffs.

And in the Rangers opening game against Pierce last week, Seitz got OC heading in the right direction scoring a game-high 27 points as the Rangers topped Pierce 81-79.

“We’ve been focusing on defense and rebounds because we’re going to need to get some stops,” Landram said. “It’s harder to get guys to play defense and rebound because it’s easy to get guys to shoot.”

The Rangers haven’t been to the Northwest Athletic Association of Community College playoffs since Landrum wore a uniform, but that’s not the clear goal this season.

“I want to win obviously, but I haven’t set a bar that’s too high,” Landram said.

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