The Cuesta College men’s basketball season wrapped up its 2022-2023 season with an 89-72 playoff loss in the CCCAA men’s basketball regional tournament to the 11th overall seeded Mt. San Jacinto College Eagles, finishing the year with a 15-14 overall record.
The season started on a high note for the Cougars, with a victory in the home opener over the West Hills College Lemoore Golden Eagles, 85-77. Throughout the season, the team fortified Gilbert H. Stork Gymnasium, finishing the season with an above .500 record at home, going 6-5.
With the number of teams making the playoffs drastically decreasing from previous years, making the postseason became even more difficult. Enduring a tumultuous season of ups and downs, the Cougars were able to finish strong by winning six of their last seven games, making the overall 22 seed in the CCCAA men’s basketball tournament.
While the season did not end with long time Head Coach Rusty Blair hoisting any silverware, there were many positive takeaways from the season. For the first time in school history, the squad boasted an impressive pair of shooters.
Freshman guard Drew Ardouin made an impressive 102 three-pointers, at an impressive 44.5% accuracy rate. Not to be outdone, sophomore forward Juani Dassie made 105 three-pointers, on an astounding 46.5% efficiency. For reference, Golden State Warriors sharpshooter Stephen Curry’s most efficient season saw him hitting his three’s at a 45.5% mark.
Over the years, Blair has often gone the international route when it comes to recruiting future players. This season alone, a mere two of the 14 players on the roster came from California, with an additional four players recruited from other states. The remaining eight players on the roster were from around the globe.
Balancing not only multiple language barriers, but also different styles of basketball was no easy task for Blair and his coaching staff. Throughout his tenure, Blair has noticed differences in playing style based on where the player comes from.
“Guys pulling up, breaking rims down, 40 inch verticals,” Blair said. “And those guys can rely just on their ability, right? The International guys have to rely on skill level.”
Besides winning trophies and hanging banners, Blair hopes to get his players scholarships to four year universities. Of the five sophomores vying for scholarships, one has already signed a full ride, as well as two more players recently being offered scholarships.
Returning for his sophomore season, standout guard Drew Ardouin hopes to lead the team to another playoff berth. With seven other players returning for their sophomore seasons, the Cougars hope to continue building, and make a push for postseason glory.