By Anna Tsiaras
CCC Journalism Program
BLACKWOOD – Head Coach Lou Abbattista and the young Cougars at Camden County College will open their season with home court advantage against the Burlington County College Barons Thursday night, in anticipation of a successful season.
The Cougars are a fresh new team and staff, with only two returning players (James Cooper and Noah McFarlane) and one returning assistant coach (Bob Right). Third-season Head Coach Abbattista has added Assistant Coach Dan Burk from Chestnut Hill College in Germantown, Pa., and former player of Abbattista, All-American John Chessmond, as a volunteer.
Although the coaching staff has gone smaller and quicker this season, “we do have talent,” says Abbattista. Height may come into play when battling Barons athletes who are equipped with two 6-foot-7-inch forwards (Freddy Rassmusen and Mims Andrus). “They [Burlington County College] do have an advantage,” states Abbattista.
Abbattista stresses his team must play tough defense, rebound the ball, and execute to compete this season.
It is hard for Abbattista to mimic a college game to his younger players and he says it will have an effect on their first game. “There are some things I cannot simulate in practice, referees and crowd noise, how fast and physical the game is,” Abbattista says.
He cannot foretell what this season will bring, but thinks the team will do better finishing the season in January and February, when players start to understand their roles on and off the court. He wants four or five players to average double figures this season.
Abbattista hopes to have prepared them well, setting them up against tough pre-season teams like Division I Harcum County College and Division II Chestnut Hill College. “They’re starting to follow the system,” explains Abbattista, who runs a very advanced style of play.
Players to watch for:
Shawn Russell, an 18-year-old, 6-foot-3, D1 prospect, from Brooklyn, N.Y., attended Willingboro High School in Willingboro, N.J. Russell says, “Coach Lou is a great coach, and I like the quick pace he runs.”
Shakoor Woodson, 19, from Uptown, Pa., standing at 6-foot-2, attended The Promise Academy of Martin Luther King in Philadelphia. Woodson has been a leading scorer in the pre-season. “The system works,” Woodson says about Abbattista’s style of play.
DeAndre Williams, 18, from Northeast Philadelphia, is a 5-foot-9 guard out of Northeast Philadelphia High School. Williams was also a leading scorer during pre-season games. “I want us to win Region XIX,” Williams says.
Camden County College will take on Burlington County College from 7 to 9 p.m. Nov. 7 in the Papiano Gymnasium on the Camden County College Blackwood campus. Admission is free and no tickets are required.