Breakers Media Staff – 4/24/2009
The Santa Barbara Breakers begin their quest for a second consecutive WCBL title as they play their home opener Saturday, April 25 at SBCC Sports Pavilion. The Breakers will be taking on the prestigious Beijing Aoshen Olympians, an organization who sent their star point guard, 6’9 Sun Yue to the Los Angeles Lakers for the 2008-09 NBA season. The Olympians boast a frontline of 7 footers as well as 6’7 Sing Hoan, who is scoring at a 28.2 clip after six contests in West Coast Professional League play. At the guard slots are Americans Sheldon Pace (27.3 ppg) and Tyree Jones (22.2 ppg). Jones tattooed the Breakers back in 2007 unleashing a 59 scoring spree although the Breakers did pull out the overtime victory against the Chico Force in Chico. Beijing is currently in first place in the WCBL sporting a 4-2 record. Meanwhile, the Breakers are coming off a road victory, back on April 17, against the same Beijing squad. The Breakers trailed by 15 (41-26) in the first half; closed the gap to 57-55 by halftime and then launched a fourth quarter defense and offensive assault to win the contest 119-113.
Returning to the Breakers this season is WCBL MVP for 2008, 6’9 forward Josh Merrill. Merrill, who played collegiately at UCSB and followed on to the professional ranks in Italy, Australia, Portugal, gives his squad the leadership and scoring power that was unmatched last season (22.3 ppg). Mark Peters returns at point guard, having made All 1st Team Defensive in the WCBL and will display his scoring abilities as well. Sharing duties with at point is local media darling, Shantay Legans. Legans, a graduate of Dos Pueblos HS; Cal; Fresno State later honed his skills in Germany and Holland. Now working fulltime in the executive offices of Carls Jr Restaurants and coaching at Laguna Blanca HS, Legans brings charismatic charm on the floor and supported that last season making a behind the back shot beyond halfcourt. This earned him 4 consecutive nights on ESPN’s SportCenter’s Play of the Day.
Allan Purnell returns for his 3rd season. The “glue” brings consistent defense each night and will be looked upon for his clutch jumpers as done the past two seasons. Off the bench for 6th man firepower is 6’3 combo guard Tim Taylor. Scoring 18.8 points per game last season, Taylor also led the League in free throws attempted and made and 9 trifecta’s scored in one game. That record was shattered last Sunday by Pasadena guard Eric Bowden, who hit 10 3’s while amassing a new WCBL record 52 points. Rashid Byrd, 7’1 forward/center, will be back for the Breakers lending his League-leading shot blocking and rebounding prowess. Byrd was named Defensive Player of the Year by the WCBL in 2008. This springboarded him on to play for the LA Lakers NBDL team in 2008-09, the LA DFenders.
New faces to the team are local favorite Santiago Aguirre. Standing 6’8 and comfortable at the high post area, Sant will be playing on familiar ground in Santa Barbara. He starred both at Santa Barbara HS and Westmont College. The collegiate All-American has been playing professionally in Mexico and looks forward to playing in front of family and friends over the next 8 weeks.Zack Fray is a 6’6 220 small forward who also doubles as Kobe Bryant in tv and photo shots. What he also possesses like Kobe is scoring power both inside and out. The lefty scored 18 points, grabbed 12 rebounds and dished out 8 assists in the Breakers win last week. Jerry Dupree made his comeback last week with 12 points and 10 rebounds for the Breakers. Dupree injured his knee a year ago in the last practice before the Breakers home opener in 2008. The injury required surgery and Dupree is 70% recovered at this time. Rounding out the squad is 6’10 forward Trey Townsend, who just graduated from CSU-Northridge. Townsend was a force inside against Beijing last week carding a 21 point 12 rebound game.
The Breakers will be playing a 14 game regular season schedule followed by a 3 game playoff format, with all 3 games being hosted by the Breakers in Santa Barbara land. Coach Pickering is optimistic about the new season. “Last year was rewarding in winning the WCBL crown, going 18-0 and traveling to China for two tours with the Breakers. But, this will be another exciting year being challenged to pick up where we left off-displaying great team play both on and off the court. That was supreme harmony that we experienced last season.”
The Breakers do not get much of a break after the game Saturday night. They will travel to Pasadena the following day to face the Slam at 3pm. “This is a great challenge to play two games in less than 24 hours. You really find out who loves the game and the consistency that great players demonstrate each game, added Pickering. For more information on the Breakers, logon to Breakersbasketball.com or westcoastprobasketball.com.