FRESNO — Coach Paul Landreaux has had some great teams in his six seasons at El Camino College, but none, he says, better than the 1984-85 Warriors.
And who's going to argue with him?
El Camino, the Metropolitan Conference champion, takes a 30-1 record and a 21-game winning streak into today's 2:15 opening-round matchup against Ohlone (20-10) in the California Community College Tournament at Selland Arena. The Warriors, the top-seeded team from the Southern California bracket, are favored to win the championship along with San Joaquin Delta, the top-seeded team from the Northern California bracket.
El Camino's only loss of the season came in December to Long Beach. Since then, the Warriors have used their fast break and pressing defense to beat--and sometimes embarrass--competition.
The most remarkable thing about El Camino is its shooting percentage. As a team, the Warriors are shooting 65% from the floor, and that's better than some teams shoot from the free-throw line. All five El Camino starters are shooting at least 54%, and one, 6-foot-5 forward Dwayne Lewis, is shooting 70.6%.
"Our shooting percentage is hard to comprehend," Landreaux said. "For people who really know basketball, and just aren't into figures, that statistic is just amazing."
El Camino, which won the State championship in 1981 and won 30 games in 1980 and 1981, has only one real weakness, and that's lack of size. The 6-5 Lewis is El Camino's biggest player.
But so far, the Warriors have offset their lack of size with their quickness. Few teams have even tried to run with them, and the ones that did paid the price in the form of lopsided losses.
The key player for the Warriors is 6-1 guard Mark Wade, whom Landreaux says is the best passer he's ever seen.
"Never will you see a player like Mark pass the basketball with such accuracy," he said. "We get the rebound, get the ball to Mark and he sets up a basket."
Wade is averaging a state-leading 10.1 assists per game and 7.5 points. The teammates who have benefited most from Wade's deft playmaking are 6-1 guard Greg Hill, who is averaging 14.9 points per game, Lewis, who is averaging 13.6, and 6-4 forward Todd Porter, who is averaging 10.1.
El Camino is averaging 75.5 points per game and has allowed only 51.2 points per game, for average per game point differential of 24.3
State Tournament Notes
Today's first-round schedule: Sacramento City (24-8) vs. Grossmont (24-7) at 9 a.m.; San Jose City (25-7) vs. College of the Canyons (22-6) at 10:45; Glendale (20-11) vs. Butte (25-3) at 12:30; Ohlone (20-10) vs. El Camino (29-1) at 2:15; Long Beach City (28-6) vs. City College of San Francisco (25-4) at 4 p.m.; Skyline (26-2) vs. Taft (29-5) at 6 p.m.; Fresno City (26-9) vs. Mt. San Antonio (27-4) at 7:45, and Riverside City (24-9) vs. San Joaquin Delta (26-4) at 9:30. . . . Long Beach, which drew a difficult first-round opponent in Golden Gate Conference champion City College of San Francisco, beat El Camino in a tournament game in December, but the Vikings lost both of their Metropolitan Conference games to the Warriors. Long Beach has one of the top players in the state, 6-8 center Derek Jones, who is averaging 21 points per game. . . . Mt. San Antonio, co-champion of the South Coast Conference, is making its first State Tournament appearance in 30 years. This is the first time Mountie Coach Gene Victor has ever brought a team to the State Tournament in his 26-year career at the Walnut school.