By Joel Muhs / Staff writer

At first thought, a lot of people wouldn’t think twice when Hutchinson Community College and Arizona are mentioned in a sentence together. However, those two connections carry a deeper meaning for the Blue Dragon men’s basketball team, as top player and Arizona native, Josh Baker, gears up for another season.

In Baker’s second year, he looks to help the Blue Dragons improve the 23-9 mark from last season. In his freshman year, Baker averaged 13.7 points, 2.5 assists, and 4.4 rebounds per game, while shooting 51.3% from the floor and 48.7% from beyond the 3-point arc.

This season, however, Baker said he believes they are ready to make yet another run at a title, especially after a disappointing 110-91 loss to Cowley Community College to end last season in the Region 6 tournament quarterfinals.

“For sure. We connect a little better than previous teams and we have a special group this year,” Baker said about if this team has what it takes to take home a title.

That coveted title, which includes a trip to the NJCAA Division 1 Men’s Basketball Championship in Hutchinson, will have to come a little bit differently than in previous years. This year, the HutchCC men’s basketball team will have a condensed 22-game season to help fit everything in all in one semester. This new and unusual season, which has the fingerprints of Covid-19 all over it, comes along with different ways to navigate the season.

“Staying prepared as much as possible” and “how to interact with everyone and be safe with Covid” are a couple ways Baker said he is facing the challenges this season presents.

Most basketball players have that certain NBA player that they try to model their game after, but there are multiple players Baker said he keeps his eyes on in terms of trying to emulate them.

“Kyrie Irving, LeBron James and Jamal Crawford” were among the players that Baker pays closest attention to.

When asked who he would play a game of one on one against in the NBA, it didn’t take Baker long to say “I gotta go with Steph.”

That would be Stephen Curry, who is second all-time in 3-pointers made, a two-time MVP and a three-time NBA champion with the Golden State Warriors.

Besides basketball, Baker considers himself to be a “pretty laid back guy. I just chill,” but still enjoys his Netflix shows.

“Man, I really enjoy “Power” and “The Shy”, Baker said. “You gotta check those out.”

With such a short season at hand and all of the complications the Coronavirus can bring, there is no telling what exactly will go down this season. However, the player that hails from Tempe, Arizona brings a sense of consistency and calmness that will help right the ship.

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