The California State University, Stanislaus men’s basketball team struggled last year at times, falling in close games, but this year head coach Larry Reynolds and company look to turn things around with a new team and a new year.
The Warriors barely missed out on the CCAA conference tournament when they finished tied for ninth place with a 7-15 conference record (10-16 overall). They missed the playoffs for the first time after making consecutive appearances the previous two seasons.
“I think I forgot a lot about last year. We were disappointed with our finish. I think it was a rebuilding year and thought we had people in our program that helped to get better and things have improved,” Reynolds said.
In his fifth year at the helm, Reynolds feels that this season’s squad is more athletic and has more depth as opposed from last.
The deepest position will be at the guard position that will be led by Sam Marcus and Clinton Tremelling.
“These kids are meshing well with our newcomers,” Reynolds said. “Our veterans give us some leadership and that is important. This year our team is more athletic from last, more height and more depth, and I think that is what’s giving us our quick 2-0 start.”
Last year’s Warriors showed great effort as they outscored opponents 1814 to 1783 along with a higher 3-point field goal percentage, but struggled in the paint, shooting a low percentage of .434.
“It’s a hard working team. There is a sense that these guys will not lose and do whatever they can to win and we see it in this team,” Reynolds said. “A lot of these kids come from successful programs and brining that mentality is huge.”
Along with a large number of guards will be the help of transfer stars, led by 6-foot-9 Marcus Bell who is already averaging over a double-double in both wins thus far.
“I think the obvious new playmaker is Bell, transferring from the University of Idaho,” Reynolds said. “He is very athletic and he stands out and it is something we don’t always get at the D-II level. He’s got great hands and runs the court well. We get that dimension that we didn’t have last season. It has been since Reggie Jones that we had a player of that ability.”
The Warriors who were picked ninth in the CCAA coaches’ preseason poll, will have to face a tough conference schedule to reach the CCAA tournament. They will have to place in the top six teams to qualify since the field has been trimmed to six teams starting with the 2014 CCAA Championships.
“I think this team will be balanced in scoring and we want to hang our heads high on our ability to defend. We have struggled there with overtime games and we are more up tempo and games should be high scoring,” Reynolds said. “People should expect high tempo basketball games and that’s what we want to do — hold opponents to 65 or less and score 70 or more.”
After wins over Simon Fraser and Chico State the two previous Saturdays, the Warriors are looking to pick up their third straight win on Saturday when they host Holy Names.