HIALEAH, FL – Just like Dorothy said in the American classic, The Wizard of Oz, “there’s no place like home”.
After playing its past four games on the road – including a three-games-in-three-days stretch – ASA Miami’s men’s basketball team will get to play in the friendly confines of The Dent (Bucky Dent Gym) over the next five days playing four-straight home games beginning November 30.
ASA Miami will host Florida Gateway College on Friday (Nov. 30) at 7:30 p.m.; Victory Rock Prep on December 1 at 2 p.m.; Advance Prep Academy on Dec. 3 at 7:30 p.m. as the nightcap of a tripleheader of ASA Miami basketball; and close the home stand out against Eastern Florida State College on Dec. 4 at 6 p.m.
The home stand comes at a great time for the Silver Storm (1-7).
Since winning its first home game of the season on November 14, ASA hasn’t been able to capture another victory despite playing a better overall brand of basketball while on its recent road trip. Prior to their 22-point loss at Florida Southwestern State College – which was only a five-point game at halftime and was tied at 40 early in the second half – the Silver Storm had only lost its previous three games by a combined 22 points.
Having a stretch of games at home and having what will have been a 10-day respite once the Silver Storm take the floor against Florida Gateway College on Friday is something that ASA Miami head coach Jean Dubuisson said was much-needed.
“The time off gave us a chance to press the reset button,” Dubuisson said. “We played eight games in what I’d say was a short span – and they were back to back to back it seemed like. The break allowed us to take a breath. It allowed us to go back and look at some things that we were doing wrong – as well as what worked for us – and it allowed our guys an opportunity to reflect on what it takes to basketball win games at this level and what it takes to be college basketball players.”
The home stand itself, though, won’t be an easy road to navigate.
Just like on its last road stint, ASA will play the four games over a five-day span. Also, the docket includes a pair of teams that have already gotten the best of the Silver Storm this season – Florida Gateway, who edged the Silver Storm 77-71, and Eastern Florida State, who used a hot shooting night to take down ASA 97-59. The other two games will be against postgraduate prep school teams, programs that ASA Miami has fared quite well against in the past.
Dubuisson said there was a method to his madness when he was creating the schedule.
“Four games in five days is another grueling task, but I scheduled it that way for a reason,” Dubuisson said. “If you’re going to make through the state tournament and make it to nationals, you have to win three games in a row...preparing for that starts now.”
No matter how far the Silver Storm go this season, it will have to be without two key players in sophomore guard Marquez Smith and freshman Marko Jovanovic. Smith, who hadn’t played this season, was officially ruled out for the season earlier this week when Coach Dubuisson announced that he would have season-ending leg surgery. On the flip side, Jovanovic played in the first five games of the season – injuring his right hand during the fourth contest – but missed the last three. The 6-foot-6 Serbian sharpshooter, who had been ASA’s leading scorer to start the season, has been ruled out indefinitely and will be reevaluated after the New Year.
“Marko gave us a versatility that we’ve never had before – with his ability to put the ball on the floor and shoot at his size – and we miss that,” Dubuisson said. “But other guys have stepped up since he’s been out. Jonathan Vilchez, Jaryn McCann, and Gabe Casey have all stepped up and I feel like we’re scoring by committee now.”
That trio of freshmen – Casey, McCann, and Vilchez – has used Jovanovic’s absence to assert themselves. Over the past four games, Vilchez has led the team in scoring and rebounds – averaging 17.5 and 5.5 respectively; while Casey has averaged 14.2 points (including a career-high 28 points at Florida Southwestern) and McCann has averaged 13.3 points in that same span.
The Silver Storm will get another boost during this home stand as they welcome 6-foot-8 freshman forward Levard Missick Jr. back to the lineup. Missick missed the past five games with a concussion but has cleared through the concussion protocol and will be available Friday – something Coach Dubuisson said the team needs.
“It’s a big plus is that we’re getting Levard back from his concussion. He brings versatility because of his skill set as well as giving us some size in our frontcourt,” Dubuisson said.
Ultimately, the Silver Storm just want to use the coming stretch of home games to earn a few victories and build momentum heading into the next chapter of the season.
“We just want to get guys to compete,” Dubuisson said. “They have to compete every time that we’re on the floor.”