Chris Moore is beginning his sixth season as the men’s basketball coach at Virginia Peninsula Community College. He thinks this year’s team is sizing up to be one of his best, if not the best, has had with the Gators.
He means that in the literal sense, also.
“This is the first time that we have real size. We have at least four guys over 6-foot-7. We have real size at every position,” he said.
Two seasons ago (2021-22), the Gators went 16-1 and won their first conference title in seven years. Last year, they finished 14-12 overall and took second in the conference tournament. So, Moore’s team is facing a tall order if it wants to be the best. The coach has confidence in his team, even though it is young.
“The one thing that I do like about this group is that they’re hungry,” he said. “I think they’re starting to buy in to how serious this year is for us being in the NJCAA (National Junior College Athletic Association).”
Being a member of the NJCAA offers the College exposure beyond Hampton Roads, helping the program grow. Moore said many of the players might not know the full history of the basketball program at the College, but he and his coaches remind them every chance they get.
“I think they can feel it,” Moore said.
About the only area of concern for Moore right now is experience. He has just two players on the roster who have averaged more than 20 minutes of playing time at the collegiate level.
“These guys are a brand-new group,” he said, but thinks they understand the culture Moore is developing.
The goals are to improve as the season progresses and peak at the right now.
“It’s just about being consistent,” Moore said.
The Gators have a firm test in the season opener, which is Friday, Nov. 3 against Cape Fear Community College (Wilmington, N.C.). It’s part of the Richard Bland Classic and is being played at the new Henrico Sports and Events Center in Glen Allen. Game time is 2 p.m.
Cape Fear is the reigning NJCAA Region X Division I champ.
“It’s going to be a good test for us and it’s going to make us grow up early,” Moore said.
The Gators won’t get many breathers throughout the season. Opponents also include Sandhills Community College (Southern Pines, N.C.), one of the top teams in the country,
He called his strength of schedule “super strong,” but likes it that way.
“Having (Sandhills) in the league gives us a good look at what it might look like if we do get to the NJCAA tournament,” he said. “It feels good to know in order for us get to the NJCAA tournament, we have to go through one of the top teams in the country.”
He’s also looking forward to facing The Apprentice School, which is slated for Tuesday, Nov. 21.
“It’s the last game before Thanksgiving break,” said Moore, who is expecting a good crowd for the rivalry game. “I think it’s going to be a really, really good game.”
Moore said a good tone for the season was set Oct. 21, when 300 people turned out for “Gator Madness,” a celebration of the basketball programs at the College to kick off the preseason.
“I couldn’t have thought it would look any better,” he said.
Of course, he would like to win every game, but he said the season will be a success if the Gators are playing their best come playoff time.
“If we can get to the tournament and play as well as I think we can, I think we won’t have any problems winning the Region X tournament,” he said. “I stand firm on that because I feel like this could be the best team that I’ve ever coached here at Virginia Peninsula Community College.”
He added that is not a knock on his prior teams, but a result of those teams’ success.
“My goal has always been to get better over time, but I think this group has the pieces and the tools to be a champion,” he said.
The VPCC women’s team opens its season Saturday, Nov. 4 against Berkeley College of New York. The game will be played at Warwick High School and tip-off is set for 3 p.m.
For more information on VPCC and its athletics programs, visit www.vpcc.edu.