The CUNY Champs, LaGuardia Community College. File Photo.
BY DAVID RUSSELL
LaGuardia Community College can go around recruiting as the defending CUNY champions for the first time. For head coach Ben Chobhaphand, the title helps bring in high school players in addition to several student-athletes whom the coach is expecting to get in the building.
“I think it helps but we had a lot of players sit out, and now they’re coming back,” Chobhaphand said. Ryan Yearwood was a huge factor in the Red Hawks CUNY title, but his two years at this level are up. It’s the nature of the beast at the two-year level. “At the JUCO level there is so much turnover. It’s different than the high school or four-year college level,” said Chobhaphand, who played for Queensborough CC in the early 2000s.
Although it’s tough to know how the roster will actually look until the semester begins, the coach likes the mix of player experience that he could have. “We have some veterans, new guys, transfers, a little bit of everything,” Chobhaphand said.
Last season was the third for the Red Hawks, as they went from playoff disappointment in their initial two years to champions. After they beat Borough of Manhattan Community College for the CUNY title, LaGuardia lost to Nassau in the Region XV semifinals, two wins shy of going to nationals. The team couldn’t duplicate what Hostos CC did in 2003, winning a national title in its third year of existence.
While repeating as CUNY champions would be fine, Chobhaphand has his sights set higher. “It is nice but it’s not our main goal,”
Chobhaphand said. “We want to contend for a national title but it’s a step in the right direction.”