MOSES LAKE — There's no one way to get it done in the game of basketball. But if the Big Bend Community College Runnin' Vikes are going to be successful this season they're going to have to, well run.
When your bigs are 6-foot-7, 6-6, pushing the ball up the floor and scoring on the transition is one way to counter size on the blocks and a set-up half court that pounds the ball inside.
The Runnin' Vikes might not be the biggest team in the Northwest Athletic Conference, but they do intend to be the fittest and run the ball with calculated abandon.
“We're pretty athletic, but we're not dunking guys,” said long-time Big Bend coach Mingo Scott, who is in his first season as the head coach. “They're more like a bunch of Spud Webb guys.”
Spud was one of the shortest guys in NBA history, but the 5-7 former Atlanta Hawk did win the Slam Dunk Contest in 1986, and Scott said they're going to take a page out of that playbook and outwork everybody.
The Vikes will run. They will push the ball. They will pick the ball up on the in-bounds instead of waiting for it to come to them with the idea of taking teams out of their rhythm and hopefully produce points off the turnover.
“We're a program that's finished in the top four in the region and made it to the NWAC tournament on a consistent basis, and we intend to do it again this year,” Scott said. “In order for us to do that, we have to fly up and down the floor. We're trying run people out of their set offense and not let them settle into a passing game.
“The strength of our team is playing full-court defense. If we're playing a half-court game, we're not going to be nearly as successful.”
It's not that they don't have any size, Miles Brown is a 6-7 freshman out of Sandy, Utah. Mauricio Smith is a 6-5 power forward out of Las Vegas. They also have Ben Kuiper (6-5, Spokane) and returner Blake Dittman, a 6-4 forward out of Boise.
They won't have the luxury of the NWAC leading scorer and rebounder Jacob McCord (25.6 points and 12 rebounds), so the offense will have to be by committee.
“Big Bend has a culture of winning and we have to come with the attitude that we're going to win. That's our goal,” said Dittman, who saw time on last season's team that finished fourth in the NWAC East behind North Idaho, Spokane and Walla Walla. “Our attitude is that we're going to out-work everyone as far as defense and rebounds. If we're out-working everyone, we should be in every game.”
Point guard Koby Huerta played on the Washington 4A state champion Kentwood team out of Covington last season. He comes in with credentials that fit nice in Scott's up-tempo game plan.
“Big Bend is a very successful program and that's appealing to me,” Huerta said. “I think we're a good group of guys that like to work hard. As long as we share the ball, we'll be very successful. “It looks like Walla Walla is very successful, so is Spokane, but it's nothin' we can't handle.”
Smith is one of three players from Las Vegas and brings some hops and athleticism to the Runnin' Vikes roster.
“My job is to get rebounds and play defense, do everything I can, honestly,” Smith said. “My high school team used to put up a lot of points, so I'm good with that. For us to be successful defensively, everyone has to know their rotations so we can get successful traps and get the turnover for score.”
Run and gun might sound like typical Juco basketball, but the Runnin' Vikes intend to shift it into high gear and back it with some defense.
They go into Saturday's alumni game at DeVries Activity Center with an 8-3 record in preseason scrimmages. Tipoff on Saturday is scheduled for 5 p.m.
The Vikings open the regular season at the Skagit Valley Tournament Nov. 24-26.
Rodney Harwood is a sports writer at the Columbia Basin Herald and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org