A familiar face is always welcome when moving to a new job.
It was even more so, however, when Hassan Nizam reconnected with John Ukamadu shortly after Nizam became the head coach of the Macomb Community College men’s basketball team last summer.
Asked when he realized he had a team that could win the first Monarchs’ championship in the 1992-93 conference – before the birth of 27-year-old Nizam – Nizam replied “when John Ukamadou signed a letter of intent”.
The MCC ended the drought on Monday with an 81-67 victory against Delta College. This assured the monarchs of a share in the Eastern Division of the Michigan Public College Sports Association Championship. They can win the title right away with a win Wednesday at Henry Ford College.
Ukamadu played an important role in Rosville’s success when Nizam coached the Panthers.
“He had the opportunity to play another year at Juco because of the free year of COVID,” Nizam said. “John is not only a great player, but also a selfless player. When he signed, it was a stream effect. One by one the good players wanted to sign and we built our core.
“We have a great playmaker, a great guard, a great small forward, great big men and a great bench. We have all the right pieces and they blend well. It makes my job a lot easier. ”
Ukomada did not see the potential in this year’s Monarchs team for long.
“It was the first day I saw everyone,” Ukomadu said. “That first day the coach brought energy and I knew we would have a good team.
“The coach is constantly bringing energy. Coaches don’t always do that. He is like that every day. It’s not just one day, it’s every day, and it’s contagious. “
Ukomadu has an explanation for how the team got in touch.
“I just think we like each other,” he said. “We are messing with each other. We have a good connection off the court, not just in basketball. We are friends. “
This is not always the case in the junior college team.
“The players bought each other,” Nizam said. “Basketball for junior colleges is not only a discovery, but also a development and a way to go to the next level. Our guys from the beginning totally went for it. You help each other get there. I told them that if you do it not for yourself, but if you do it for each other, we will have a very successful basketball team. ”
Winning will help players who aspire to the next level.
“Coaches at the four-year level want to recruit winners,” Nizam said. “We don’t have to win every game, but if you play the basketball you won, you will be recruited. They have come to terms with this mentality, and our assistant coaches are doing a great job, making appropriate adjustments daily and making sure we do it in the classroom. It’s a collection of wonderful kids and great assistant coaches. ”
The MCC used the same starting lineup throughout the season, and the starting five Giovanni Miles, Jalen Dachteri, Tariq Humes, Elijah Bell and Ukamadu conducted a balanced attack.
In Monday’s victory against Delta, which avenged the Pioneers’ 89-70 loss on February 14, Ukomada led the Monarchs with 22 points, but Bell had 19, Daughters 14, Miles 13 and 13 Miles. Yumsa is eight.
“Delta” was in the lead with 23 points of Jermaine Lawrence, but the other four starting teams of the “Pioneers” scored only 20 points.
MCC finished the first half 8-3, culminating in a 3-point bell in the buzzer to bring the Monarchs ahead 43-35. Macomb increased the lead to 20 points early in the second half and never allowed the Pioneers to come close to seven points by the end of the road.
“We were hit in the mouth a week ago,” Nizam said. “It was probably our worst game of the season in terms of effort. As a program, we are proud to play physical team basketball. We’re talking about OWE – recycling everyone. When we talked about adjustments after the last game, that’s where we started. Just the best collective effort. ”
Monarchs also tried to play more advanced games. They forced Delta to make 17 turns, resulting in 28 points for Macomb.
“Our guys played with long active arms all night,” Nizam said. “It led to a lot of deviations and we were able to show the show. The difference was that the guys came together and they are the way they are preparing for this game. “
There was no wild celebration after the game, despite the fact that the drought of the conference championship was over.
“We have unfinished business by the end of the week,” Nizam said. “We didn’t celebrate in the locker room. We move on to the next workout, to the next game. No matter how proud we are, we are still hungry and determined to end the week strong. “