Maybe the Cal State Stanislaus men’s basketball team was just going through the motions of a developing program. The way last season went down, it wasn’t ideal. The Warriors didn’t make much noise in the California Collegiate Athletic Association, highlighted by the fact that they wrapped up the season with winning just one time in the final 10 games.
To commence the 2010-11 season, the Warriors won’t have back a certain 6-foot-11 center from Puerto Rico until early December.
Even so, second-year coach Larry Reynolds is already smiling.
“I’m very anxious to get the year going,” he said.
This season, he welcomes back six returners and a collection of junior college transfers who can be big-time contributors. One of them is Reggie Jones, a 6-foot-9, 245-pound forward who secured the California Community College Co-Player of the Year award after leading Ohlone College in Fremont to the State Tournament Elite Eight by scoring 14.5 points, grabbing 5.1 rebounds and collecting 1.8 blocks per game.
Jones will be an ideal frontcourt replacement for Frank Monge, the tall Puerto Rican center who fractured his ankle twice this year, a streak of bad luck that included twisting it during a preseason practice. With Monge unable to return until early December, the Warriors are forced to start the regular season without a big-time presence in the middle.
Cal State Stanislaus begins CCAA play at 7 p.m. on Thursday against Chico State at the newly named Fitzpartick Arena on the Stanislaus campus.
“It’s frustrating that I can’t play basketball,” Monge said. “I’m trying to be involved the most I can, even when I’m sitting down on the bench hurt.”
At this point, the Warriors will take any kind of help they can. They’re coming off a 10-17 season — a run that included a 6-16 record in the CCAA — in Reynolds’ first year after his stint with Division I’s Long Beach State. And Stanislaus lost three players due to graduation, all of them having been starters at certain points of last season.
During the offseason, the Warriors got taller, Reynolds said, thanks to the additions of junior college transfers Jones, 6-foot-6 Brett Sayad from Modesto Junior College and 6-foot-6 Evan Scott from Columbia College.
Reynolds also noted that this season’s team has a well-balanced offensive attack, with the option of rotating in as many as 14 players.
“I think we brought some guys who will give us some added scoring punch to go along with proven contributors like guards Marcus Lever, Dwight Jones and Prince Abidoye,” the coach added, “so we don’t have to rely on just one or two guys.”
His players can see that, too.
“We’re pretty balanced,” Sayad said. “We’ve got solid guards, good shooters, good big men. We’re pretty balanced and that will help us have a good offense. The only thing left would be us working together, making that extra pass and getting the ball movement in.”
The Warriors will be tested throughout the season, especially in a conference with Cal Poly Pomona. The Broncos are the defending NCAA Division II champions, and they recently had a respectable 81-60 loss to Division I champion Duke.
Their first test is Thursday night.
“I think this team understands that this is a long, long conference season, starting in November and finishing in March,” Reynolds said. “If we can stay with what we’re doing and not get too discouraged when we’re down and not get too elevated when we’re doing well, I’m very optimistic that this group can do their thing.”
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