By Cole Deutschendorf
Usain Bolt. McDonald’s. The Hutchinson Community College men’s basketball team.
What do those three things have in common? They make their living based on how fast they are.
If you’re in Kansas, and you’re looking for the fastest basketball team around, you don’t have to look far. The Blue Dragons men’s team, who were at 17-3 heading to Wednesday’s Jayhawk Conference game against Barton, play at an extremely high pace. They run a full-court trapping defense and live beyond the 3-point line when they have the ball.
This makes watching their games entertaining from a spectator’s point of view, but there are some people who struggle to keep up. Three of those people who can fall behind are involved with the team directly, being radio commentators Glen Grunwald and Dan Naccarato, and team statistician and Director of Sports Information, Steve Carpenter.
At one point against Garden City, the Blue Dragons went on a 12-2 run in around one minute of game time.
“The stats were coming in so fast,” Carpenter said. “You were hardly getting the assist for one basket down before a turnover had already occurred.”
The action can come fast and furious for first-year Blue Dragon coach Tommy DeSalme’s team, with the Blue Dragons thriving after gaining momentum to their side. Several times over the course of the season, they have come back from down a large amount of points because of their style of play. Eight times, the Blue Dragons have scored in triple digits.
“They were playing Clarendon, Texas, and were down 20 points with seven minutes to go,” Grunwald said. “And in a minute and 34 seconds, they went on a 19-4 run and ended up winning the ball game. That’s just an example of how explosive they are.”
As a radio color commentator, Naccarato can struggle at times to find time to give his explanations for what is happening on the court.
“I wait for dead ball situations and inject brief comments, usually less than three seconds in length,” he said. With so little time to analyze, Nacarrato has to be aware of what is happening during the game at all times.
One positive from how the team plays is their ability to climb themselves out of holes back into games.
“That’s what this team can do. You really never count them out,” Grunwald said.
Carpenter, who has been keeping stats for more than 30 years, said he has only seen one team faster than the Blue Dragons, and that was DeSalme’s Cowley team from last year, which reached the NJCAA national championship game and lost to Coffeyville.
As experienced as Carpenter is with recording stats, there is one area in which he struggles with the men’s team.
“The biggest thing you’ve got to challenge yourself to do, is just not start watching, because it’s so easy to get caught up in the game,” Carpenter said. “Some people see the fast paced action and think they’re flying around with their hair on fire, but there is a method to the madness.”
More than anything else, Grunwald said he simply loves the chance to commentate the games. “In one word, it’s just a heck of a lot of fun to call the games,” he said with a smile.