Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Merritt Website is worth a second look

By Matt Schwab
Staff writer

Article Last Updated: 11/14/2008 11:09:28 PM PST

IF THE BASKETBALL at Merritt College in Oakland even approaches the quality of the T-Birds Web site, spectators are in for a treat. Merritt basketball on the Net is a swish hit.

Too often junior college Web sites are out of date or lacking in creativity and panache. There's no reason for young eyes to find them. New Merritt assistant men's coach Keenan McMiller is well aware of the JC Internet void. So he did something about it.

The revamped T-Birds athletics home site features a virtual tour of the campus, a picturesque view of downtown Oakland from the Oakland Hills, and even a quote from Albert Einstein.

But it doesn't stop there. The T-Birds men's basketball Web page first displays a team logo, then the picture morphs into the school's glistening home gymnasium followed by players running in practice. Finally, it shows the players' hands raised and interlocked with the word "unity" above.

If you click on the team roster, you'll find color photos of the players, such as former San Leandro star Matt Busch, and some even have bios. For instance, you can learn that Merritt freshman Travis Mayo (Monticello HS) of Oakland is nicknamed "Tigger," and his dunk in high school on homecoming night broke the rim, or that Dion Meredith (Mt. Zion Christian) of Jersey City enjoys cheese steaks.

Earnest Pughsley of Limam, Ohio, a sophomore, says his most prized possession is his "grandfather's Bible," and he wants to play in the NBA.

Sophomore Kerel Mitchell of Brooklyn, N.Y. might be a future motivational speaker. His bio offers the sage advice: "You can be anything if you set your mind to it."

Yes, it's about recruiting, but the overarching message seems to be: Check this place out.

"We wanted to make it one of the best (JC Web sites)," McMiller said. "JCs usually don't invest much in Web sites, but we wanted to make it feel like a place you wanted to be."

On the court, the T-Birds are also on the upswing. They advanced to the finals of the Ohlone College Jonathan Wallace Memorial Tournament last week before falling 80-54 to the powerful host Renegades, ranked No. 2 in the state.

Merritt coach Maurice Compton, a longtime athletic director, is well-connected in the sports world as a "big-time trainer," McMiller attests. "He trains (the Boston Celtics') Leon Powe (a former Oakland Tech and Cal star) in the offseason. That's why Leon had a camp at Merritt over the summer."

McMiller clearly wants Merritt to return to the level he experienced as a former T-Birds player, when helped the team make the Sweet 16.

"The last five years we haven't made the playoffs. We want to make the program strong again," McMiller said.


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