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Taking it easy

Ibewiro makes impact even with smaller role

Taking it easy

Matt Ibewiro is an important part of the Cal Stanislaus men's basketball team this season under new coach Larry Reynolds. The Warriors are 4-0 heading into California Collegiate Athletic Associatio...


POSTED December 1, 2009 10:04 p.m.
In the past few weeks, he has been a major part of the Cal State Stanislaus men’s basketball team that produced win after win in regular-season play and welcomed a new coach in Larry Reynolds who has a history of making teams into championship contenders. And personally, he was named as his league’s best player this week after a solid weekend that saw him average nearly a double-double.
It’s nice to be Matt Ibewiro right now.
But it will get tougher — in the competitive sense.
The senior forward from Riverside City College will once again play a big role in the Warriors’ game plan as they open California Collegiate Athletic Association  play this weekend, with the first contest Friday night at Cal State Monterey Bay. Stanislaus is looking good right now, but the players and coaches know there is a long season ahead.
But Ibewiro’s workload is getting lighter.
Unlike last season under then-coach Keith Larsen, when Ibewiro said he had a more crucial role and was a huge part of the scoring force, it’s different. This season there are more weapons, and he doesn’t have to produce a big night every time. He felt like he had to do everything — block shots, rebound, score, alter shots, play defense.
“We have so many different options,” Ibewiro said about this season’s Warriors, who are 4-0. “We have balanced scoring. Last year, it was one or two scorers. We had to force-feed them the ball constantly. We have so many different options. I don’t have to come down every night and feel like I have to get 20 or something like that.”
He proved this statement against Menlo College at the Lamont Ramsey Classic on Sunday, when he put up 13 points and grabbed seven rebounds, while teammates like Dwight Jones and Chad Johnson finished with 14 and 12 points, respectively. Ibewiro was satisfied with helping the Warriors come back from an 8-point deficit early in the second half to win.
His latest numbers helped him earn the CCAA player of the week honor.
Ibewiro knows his role. He appreciates it. He’s the community college player who wasn’t a “hot” recruit — he only averaged 3.0 points and 3.0 rebounds a game — but managed to earn a role on the Stanislaus roster, thanks to an assistant on the Riverside coaching staff who had connections with the Warriors program.
Ibewiro had a standout year for the Warriors last season, finishing fifth in blocks and third in offensive rebounds in the CCAA. He also averaged 10.4 points and 7.4 rebounds, numbers that helped Reynolds put a team together this season.
Ibewiro is only one of less than a handful of returning players, but he’s a part of “a solid foundation from which to build,” Reynolds said.
“There’s not so much on my shoulders this year as it was last year,” said Ibewiro. “It just feels a lot easier.”
To contact Chhun Sun, e-mail csun@turlockjournal.com or call 634-9141 ext. 2041.
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