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SOUTH BEND — Bob Schermerhorn's been around the block, coaching basketball for more than 40 years.
The South Bend Central High School graduate is using all that experience to work some magic at Holy Cross College.
"When I got here three years ago, Holy Cross had won a total of three games," said Schermerhorn, who served as an interim head coach at Arizona State in 1989.
"My first year, we won four. I was the winningest coach in the history of the school. They were going to build a statue."
"Last year, I don't know how, we won 14 games and finished third in the conference. We went to the second round of the playoffs. They're expecting big things of us this year."
Holy Cross enters its fifth basketball season, and the program is still dealing with growing pains.
"Nobody knows us," Schermerhorn said. "Holy Cross is the junior college where Rudy went. You don't have a name. And obviously, there's a lack of scholarship money."
Schermerhorn has used his contacts in the California community college system to bring talent to the program.
Yama Kader, a 6-foot-1 guard from Mission Viejo, Calif., averaged 17.4 points a game last season.
"Yama was the second leading scorer in the Chicagoland Conference," Schermerhorn said. "He's a 3-point shooter, and nobody ever guards him straight up. He's always got two guys on him.
"We brought in a 6-foot-7 kid from Kalamazoo Community College, Brandon Evans, who I think will make an impact. I think he will be a real fine player in this conference. Another player we brought in, Parker Dominguez (from Santa Clarita, Calif.), he's a 6-4 under-sized inside guy who plays as hard as I've ever seen anybody play."
Former Culver Community star Zoe Bauer, a 6-2 guard, is expected to help the Saints contend.
"Zoe Bauer came in last year, and we didn't expect much from him in his freshman year," Schermerhorn said. "As a matter of fact, he was probably third on the depth chart at his position to start off the season. But he is fearless, just fearless. He fought his way to playing time.
"There was one game last year, he had six 3s. He can really shoot the ball, and he's a big-time competitor. I'm a Zoe Bauer fan. I don't know if he'll start, but he will play a lot of minutes."
Marian's Coley Schultheis, a 5-9 freshman guard, hopes to get in some playing time, and Schermerhorn likes his potential.
"He can shoot it,'' the Saints' coach said. "He's a point guard who understands the game. He's also a good free-throw shooter."
Holy Cross, which opens Tuesday at Bethel, will have its hands full after realignment put a number of powerful NAIA Division I teams into the Chicagoland Conference.
"No matter what job you have ... you have challenges," Schermerhorn said. "We've kind of built this thing with junior college guys. We brought in four junior college guys this year. It's very difficult when you're the ... new school on the block. Kids know about Bethel and Goshen and Grace. They don't know about Holy Cross, so you battle that situation. It's a tough process, but our kids will be known for playing hard."
Staff writer Curt Rallo:
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