Blue Knights basketball recruitment off the charts for inaugural season
Jay Pivec, the head coach of men’s basketball at Dakota County Technical College, traveled to Mankato, Minn., Saturday, Feb. 12, 2011, to watch three of his former players from Minneapolis Community & Technical College—Peter Olafeso, Cameron Hodges and Kenny Olafeso—play in a game between Minnesota State University Mankato and visiting Concordia University. Accompanying Pivec on the trip were Ron Gates, Blue Knights associate head coach and Pivec’s assistant for 20 years at MCTC, Chris Juergens, Blue Knights assistant coach and former MCTC assistant, and Tulsie Sookdeo, a trainer with Pivec at MCTC for 15 years.
The Concordia Golden Bears ended up toppling the Minnesota State Mavericks, ranked ninth in the nation at the time, 79–73. The Olafeso twins, Peter and Kenny, are starting guards for CU. Peter Olafeso was the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference 2010–2011 Newcomer of the Year and made the 2010–2011 NSIC Men’s Basketball All-Conference First Team. Kenny Olafeso, who was NJCAA DIII First-Team All-American while at MCTC, averaged 12 points per game for CU and was second on the team in offensive rebounds with 92. The brothers played for Pivec in the 2008–2009 and 2009–2010 seasons. Both are majoring in business at CSU.
Cameron Hodges, a 6’5″ starter at guard for MSU, was the 2010–2011 NSIC Defensive Player of the Year and made the 2010–2011 NSIC Men’s Basketball All-Conference Second Team. Hodges was a key member of the MCTC team that made it to the finals of the 2009 NJCAA DIII National Championship. The Mavericks posted a tough one-point loss to Richland College, ending a 33–2 season that saw the team ranked number one in the nation for seven consecutive weeks on the NJCAA DIII poll. Hodges is majoring in recreation, parks & leisure services at MSU.
One of the hallmarks of Pivec’s two decades with the Mavericks was his staff’s relentless focus on the success of his players after they graduated from MCTC. From a total of nearly 140 players, 103 went on to four-year institutions with 98 earning bachelor’s degrees.
“We are bringing that same emphasis on future success to DCTC,” Pivec said. “We see Blue Knights basketball as just the beginning for our student-athletes. So much is available at the four-year level for our graduates. We want them to continue advancing their academic and athletic careers. DCTC is the perfect gateway to those opportunities.”
Pivec and Gates are building a strong class of recruits for DCTC basketball. More than 100 prospects have expressed interest in playing on the new team, which will begin competing at the NJCAA DII level as an independent in November 2011. “Our recruiting has been off the charts,” Pivec said. “As coaches, our biggest problem will be having to turn away a lot of really good kids. Our new program at DCTC has made a big impact throughout the basketball community.”
2011–2012 schedule nearly set to go
The team’s 30-game schedule for the 2011–2012 season is all but complete with games set against opponents from:
- North Iowa Area Community College
- Rochester Community and Technical College
- Gogebic Community College
- Iowa Central Community College
- Bismarck State College
- Des Moines Area Community College
- Anoka-Ramsey Community College
- Vermilion Community College
- Western Technical College
- Ridgewater Community College
- Riverland Community College
- Lake Region State College
- Augsburg College JV
- Hamline University JV
- Northwestern College JV
- University of St. Thomas JV
Game and practice facilities lined up
The Blue Knights will practice at the High Performance Academy in Eagan, Minn. The Academy is the newest multi-sport and event center in the metro area. Home games will be played at the Salvation Army St. Paul Citadel Worship and Community Center. Located on Seventh Street in St. Paul, the Sal ranks as b-ball central in the Twin Cities and was known for hosting the Howard Pulley Pro-Am Summer League (now slated for the High Performance Academy). The Knights play their first game against the Augsburg College Auggies JV squad. The date is tentatively scheduled for Nov. 5, 2011.