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March 2, 2013

JUNIOR COLLEGE BASKETBALL: Final Stretch

Elliott looking to leave a lasting impression at TVCC this season

Athens — The sophomore season for 6-8 TVCC Cardinal Dominique Elliott has been one he considers as a roller-coaster.

“It has been like a roller coaster with a lot of ups and downs, new faces and new coaches,” Elliott said. “This season has been pretty good for me so far. This season has been pretty decent and just like a first year coach you are going to have it where everybody doesn’t know each other so we have to get that family bond.”

The Cardinals are looking to gain more momentum heading into the Region XIV tournament next Tuesday-Saturday at the University of Texas at Tyler’s Herrington Patriot Center.

TVCC has currently won three straight and hold an 18-10 record heading into tonight’s game against Navarro.

“With Navarro they could sum up their season on our court and get the automatic bid in the national tournament,” Elliott said. “We really don’t want them to win on our court tomorrow night.”

First year coach Kris Baumann said for the Cardinals to make some noise in the postseason, Elliott will be a key to the Cardinals success.

“I think it will be huge. I think the better he plays the farther that we will go in the tournament,” Baumann said. “If he can average a double-double in the next week in a half, we could be some teams in the regional tournament. If not, it could be a little tougher for us to get past the tournament.”

Last season, the Cardinals wrapped up the regular season with momentum on their side and a 23-9 record but lost in the quarterfinal round of the Region XIV Conference Men’s  Tournament.

This was the second straight year the Cardinals lost in that round and Elliott took that loss hard.

“This is very important  for me because last year we lost the very first game that we played in at the tournament,” Elliott said. “It would be nice if we can make it to the championship game and win that and go to the national tournament and get those rings.”

Elliott said one of the biggest transition has been the adjustment from Coach Pat Smith to Baumann this season.

“Coach Smith was a little on edge last year and Coach Baumann has been laid back this year,” Elliott said. “He (Baumann) is younger and more cool so it is a different style of coaching but he is definitely a good coach. You have a very unique style of coaching between the two coaches so I have had to adjust to that.”

Baumann said during his sophomore season, Elliott has found a way to get his grades up this season to make another run at a Division I school this fall.

“He is a player that was here all summer because he had signed with the University of Oklahoma but his academic situation would not all him to go there,” Baumann said. “It is a situation where he has opened up his status again so I am sure he will have a lot of good schools to chose from.”

Elliott said after being picked to finish this season in third place by the coaches, a possible sixth-eighth place finish is a tough pill to swallow.

“It is kind of heartbreaking. When you go into the tournament, all of your records are clear and you start all over again,” Elliott said. “If it is a six, seven or eight seed it really doesn’t mean anything. The team’s that go in rolling are going to win it all this year.”

Baumann said fans of college basketball see Elliott in many different arenas than just the basketball court.

“He has been the face of our program because he has been in all of the media guides and on the posters,” Baumann said. “I don’t think he probably had the year that he envisioned himself having but all that really matters is that we are playing our best basketball.”

Elliott said taking on a different role for the second half of the year is something he has not minded doing for the program.

“It is whatever coach wants me to do. That role I was starting all year and I took a backseat,” Elliott said. Whatever role coach wants me to take to make the team better, I would rather come off the bench to be the sparkplug that the team needs.

He has been asked to split time with Octavius Ellis and Carl Porter this season.

Elliott said he is not really a vocal leader but finds other ways to let the team know how important the stretch run is this season.

“I tell them that next year this is going to be their team,” Elliott said. “Last year, I was not very vocal but this year I am trying to lead by example.”

Baumann: “He is not a real vocal guy on the floor but he shows his leadership through his actions. He has had a good two year career here and he could have a lot of Division I opportunities in the future.”

With only three players that could have made their way back to the Cardinals this year, Baumann was impressed with the work ethic of Elliott and said the choice was easy to pick him to come back to the team.

“I am very very happy with the maturity that he has brought our team,” Baumann said. “I think he is a good kid that comes from a good family. He was one of three guys that I chose to come back during the offseason.

I am happy with him and I think he has done a good job on the basketball floor and he has a lot of upside to him in his future with whatever school he chooses.”

Elliott is averaging 7.7 points per game and seven rebounds a game. He had a game high 20 points in a game at Carl Albert State College in November.

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