Matchups for Season 50:
Special Week 3 Pre-Conference Challenge Sneak Peak Game
W. Alabama (2-0) at CSU Chico (1-1)
The Chico Wildcats, fresh off landing the 16-ranked recruiting class in the country, play host to the West Alabama Tigers on December 13. Since neither team is playing another interconference team this season, we have added this matchup to our official slate of Conference Challenge games as a special 'sneak preview.'
Chico, with 5 postseason appearances in 9 seasons under jrnyfan's leadership, boasts a youthful squad that will get big minutes right away. Despite a campus culture that values the fine art of blunt-rolling more than the fine art of pick-and-rolling, this Wildcat club has clear eyes and full hearts. This is a team that looks to be fully rebuilt at the PG position, and since jrnyfan was born and raised in south Detroit, he knows a thing or two about rebuilding engines.
"Our pre-game song in the locker room is 'Only the Young' by a band called Journey," said head coach, jrnyfan. "We've welcomed the youngsters to this program with 'open arms'...we'll take our lumps early in the season but as guys learn the offense and mature a bit, we'll start to see some dividends for our hard work."
West Alabama is not to be confused with their big brothers from Tuscaloosa, but this is a team ready to play ball this season. 2nd-year head coach smokindavis might sound like a better match to coach Chico, but he's already made himself right at home in Livingston, AL. Having won only 14 games the previous two seasons, smokin' guided the Tigers to 14 wins last season alone. Expect this ballclub to approach 20 wins this year and use their veteran players to take control of this Conference Challenge matchup.
"The guys on this team have really responded to the high expectations I've set for them," says smokindavis in between drags off his non-filtered Pall Mall, as he lounged behind his majestic, oak-trimmed office desk. "Right away last season we transitioned to a high-pressure, fastbreak offense predicated on good defense and strong court vision. Guys are really buying into how this approach can help us be successful."
Players to Watch:
For Chico, freshmen Louie Gaines (10.5 ppg, 1.5 spg) and Bobby Griffin (9.5 ppg, 12.5 rpg). For W. Alabama, PG Ariel Costa (28 ppg), Benjamin Corley (16 ppg) and Michael Lehoux (13 ppg, 6.5 rpg, 4 apg).
December 17 games
#8 St. Mary's (TX) (5-1) at #9 San Bernadino (6-0)
A battle of Top 10 teams highlights the Conference Challenge schedule. St. Mary's comes in with a veteran, battle-tested squad. After back-to-back Sweet 16 appearances, is this the year that St. Mary's pushes through to its first-ever Final 4? After four straight home games, with a respectable one-point loss to New Haven as the only blemish along the way, this will be the first true road test of the young season for mottnj's club.
"I've asked our guys to leave their cowboy boots and their spurs at home," said Coach mottnj. "These fancy people in Los Angeles won't understand our unsophisticated Texas way of life. Our pressing defense is
sophisticated, however -- we call it the boot-scootin-boogie full court press. We're going to try and force turnovers which should create some good scoring opportunities."
San Bernandino counters with a savvy veteran squad as well. cradaddy, in his 3rd year as head coach, has already led this squad to back-to-back NT appearances. This team looks ready to make a deep tournament run and a big win over St. Mary's would polish up the postseason resume for sure.
"This is a nice test for our guys. St. Mary's really knows how to score, so we're going to have to work hard on the defensive end of things," said cradaddy in the CCAA-Heartland press conference call. "We're expecting a big crowd for this one, and I hope our home court advantage tips things in our favor."
Players to Watch:
For St. Mary's, Paul Kronenberg (17 ppg, 6 rpg), Ben Thompson (15 ppg, 6.5 rpg), and Neal Reeves (11 ppg, 4.5 apg, 2 spg). For San Bernandino, Desmond Cook (17.5 ppg, 5 apg, 2.2 spg).
St. Mary's 78, San Bernadino 72
Lincoln (2-4) at CSU Los Angeles (4-2)
This game also pits two experienced squads on the campus of a CCAA team. Lincoln boasts a team of seniors and freshmen effectively mixing and matching on the court. Lincoln has suffered through some close losses, and after the last loss, a spanking by local rival UMSL, the seniors decided to partake in some good ol' fashioned hazing of the freshmen. Starting PG Anthony Morgan got a wedgie. C Matt Swim got thrown in the campus pool and was told to swim laps, while SGs Lawrence Armstrong and William Ervin had to ask out the ugliest girls on campus - twins Marissa and Melissa Tomajinski. Freshman PF Dicky Dulin ran back to his dorm room before he could get his hazing treatment.
"I've never seen anything like that in my life," said Dicky Dulin. "Back in Box Elder, Montana, I've seen goats on our farm do some pretty strange things. But nothing like that. And why was it so funny to ask out Melissa Tomajinski? She's a purty girl."
"I don't know what your'e talking about," said coach z0601. "We do positive team-building activities every year. I don't know of any hazing. Our guys are ready to play, and our head cheerleaders - the Tomajinski twins - are ready to cheer our guys to victory."
CSU Los Angeles, not to be confused with the hit TV show NCIS Los Angeles, has made the NT in six of the past seven seasons. dirtycajun's squad looks like prime contenders for another NT berth this year. His recruiting efforts, bolstered by the CSULAid program, which guarantees drugs and, ahem, "favors" to top recruits has been a big hit in the Los Angeles area, despite the repeated protests of CCAA coaches and campus feminist rights groups.
"I've never heard of this CSULAid program that you're talking about," said dirtycajun. "By the way, did you hear about that hazing incident at Lincoln? Sounds pretty bad."
Players to Watch:
Justin Anderson (14 ppg and 4.5 apg) and Thomas Lamaster (7 ppg and 6 rpg). For CSU-LA, Ed Kessler (17 ppg, 6.5 rpg, 1.2 spg, and 1.5 bpg) and William Wells (6 ppg and 6 rpg) off the bench.
CSU Los Angeles 70 Lincoln 61
UC-Davis (2-4) at Valdosta State (3-3)
Heavy PRB took over Davis last season and immediately led them to their most wins in 16 seasons. This program looks to continue its rebuild with another successful campaign this season. Although only 2-4 thus far, the non-conference schedule is one of the most difficult in the country and it'll pay dividends down the road in conference play. The starters consist mostly of SIM holdovers but the IQs are high and the dedication is there. Can he pull off the upset on the road?
"Our guys wanted a challenge this season and we've given them one," says a surprisingly slim Heavy PRB. "We knew this would be a tough road but we've got some fighters on this team. Don't count us out of this one."
Valdosta State counters with a balanced squad under the leadership of new coach rstumpf. This team has enjoyed some recent success, including a trip to the PI Final Four last season, and could easily be 5-1 at this point in the season.
"This is our first home game of the season," said rstumpf just after he finished another round of golf at the Valdosta Country Club. "The campus is buzzing with excitement for this game. We expect the game to sell out and really give us an advantage. Our guys are pumped."
Players to Watch:
For Davis, Thomas Barr (12.5 ppg, 2.5 spg, 56% FG) and Alvin Munquia (12.2 ppg). For Valdosta State, local hero George Garrier (14 ppg and 3 apg) and Brad Davis (6 ppg and 8.5 rpg).
Valdosta State 62, UC-Davis 48
#6 N. Alabama (6-0) at Sonoma State (1-5)
robinhood has put together a fine squad for this season and comes into this contest as the highest ranked team in the challenge. This one looks to be lopsided on the surface, but don't count out the excellent coaching ability of inbayside and the home court advantage that he'll have in this contest.
Five straight postseason appearances for North Alabama frames a season of great expectations in Florence. With veteran talent returning and a strong mix of up-and-comers, this team shows no obvious weaknesses on either side of the floor.
"Our guys are focused and ready for this trip to wine country," said robinhood. "Our captains have done a fine job of setting proper expectations for the trip and the season, and I expect us to come out ready to play tomorrow night."
Sonoma State has worked in a strong sophomore class into the lineup and will use the fastbreak to counter N. Alabama's tight triangle offense. Expect to see Sonoma State try to use home court advantage for an early lead.
"We've taken our lumps early on, but our guys are resilient and we're learning each and every game," said inbayside. "These are the types of games that we'll need to get used to in order to have a successful future."
Players to Watch:
For N. Alabama, Thomas Cope (18 ppg, 4.7 apg and 1.7 spg) and Nathan Brooks (12ppg, 6.5 rp, and 55% FG). For Sonoma State, sophomore Patrick Terry (10 ppg) and Mikey Bator (10 ppg, 4 rpg).
N. Alabama 82, Sonoma State 60
Drury (1-5) at CSU Bakersfield (1-5)
An interesting matchup here of two teams that are off to unusually slow starts. The Drury team has suffered through some distractions early on, including the Occupy Drury movement and a mass refund of season tickets. Legendary coach alblack, with 11 straight NT appearances and a championship appearance last year, is rebuilding with fresh talent. Is this the year that the NT streak ends? Bet on al to turn this around and make a run to the NT again.
"I think the most disappointing part of the season is that my mom is really upset with me," said al. "She's demanded a refund on her season tickets, and to make matters worse, Marv the 80-year-old security guard is now sleeping on our couch. Doesn't he know that's where I sleep?"
Bakersfield is always in contention for a postseason bid and has battled close games all year. This squad doesn't pass up shots - contested or not - and never saw a three-pointer it didn't like. This one looks to be a barn-burner.
"I don't know," said head coach fhop0123. "I heard al's mom is traveling with the team on this trip. Her pre-game speeches are legendary, so we'll need to counter with a special guest speaker of our own. I'm thinking of inviting Betty White."
Players to Watch:
For Drury, Harland Goering (7.5 ppg and 5.5 rpg) and William Gosselin (14 ppg, 1.3 spg). For Bakersfield, Craig Walden (17 ppg) and Rick Leland (7 ppg, 8 rpg).
Bakersfield 58, Drury 57
#12 Poly Pomona (5-1) at Incarnate Word (6-0)
Another evenly matched, fascinating contest in our inaugural CCAA-Heartland Conference Challenge. Pomona has escaped with some pretty tight wins this season, and their only loss is to #3 ranked New Haven. The Broncos start just two seniors and has only three seniors on the roster. Incarnate Word counters with a squad of six recruited freshmen and only one senior. Ryrun isn't scared of challenging his young squad and has posted four road wins already this season. They are knocking on the door of the top 25 and a win here would likely push them to a national ranking.
"Yes we are young but our upperclassmen have done a tremendous job of putting the freshmen in a position to be successful," said ryrun, who in his 6th season already has a Sweet 16 and an Elite 8 appearance. "We're not asking them to win games for us."
"We have our hands full with this game," said wolf44, whose squad has been to the NT in 5 of the past 7 seasons. "It'll be a good barometer of where we stand nationally. I'm excited about this matchup. I'm glad ryrun wanted this game."
Players to Watch:
For Pomona, 5th-year senior Paul Kimbro (15 ppg and 3.8 apg) and sophomore William Tyner (8.5 ppg, 6 rpg). For Incarnate Word, senior Mark Sims (22 ppg) and sophomore Doug Patenaude (13 ppg and 7 rpg).
Pomona 71, Incarnate Word 67
San Francisco State (3-3) at W. Florida (4-2)
SF State and coach kevin73 are still riding the glory recruits of syhwang's national championship team of three seasons ago. But kevin73 led them to the Elite 8 last season and has brought in some solid recruits of his own. This squad looks poised for another deep run in the NT. West Florida could very easily be undefeated at this point in the season and counters with a young and talented squad that can play with anyone. Their balanced attack makes it difficult for any team to focus on stopping just one player. Anyone can put up 15 points on a given night.
"I like where we are right now," says kevin73. "I expect us to finish strong with our non-conference schedule. This team should just get better as the season goes on."
"I have a lot of respect for San Francisco State," said skinzfan36. "They know how to win, and this is a true test for our guys. Given that San Francisco must fly across the country to play us, we're hopeful that the time change and quick turn around gives us the slight advantage."
Players to Watch:
For SF State, senior pre-season All-American Trent Yang (24.5 ppg, 3 apg, 2 spg) and junior William Dunn (13 ppg and 6 rpg). For West Florida, senior Charles Graf (9 ppg and 6 rpg) and Edgardo "The Italian Stallion" Mancini (11 ppg, 4 apg).
SF State 70, W. Florida 69
Rockhurst (5-1) at UC San Diego (4-2)
Several tight wins to open the season have given Rockhurst a strong start to the season. The juniors on this team have seen three coaches in three seasons, and the behavioral issues that have come to the surface with this class have damaged the relationship that options4 has with them. Can this team win with a disgruntled group of juniors? Sure looks like it so far.
"I've stepped in and given our juniors strong leadership positions and playing time right away. We need them if we want to be successful this season," said first-year taskmaster Coach options4. "I understand their hesitation to buy into my coaching style, but I'm in this for the long haul. Together we will accomplish great things."
UC-San Diego has been up and down under head coach ericmill16's tutelage. An influx of new talent last season, combined with big playing time for those youngsters, appears to be paying dividends this season. The last four games of the non-conference schedule are tough, so we'll see what this team is made of starting tonight with Rockhurst.
Players to Watch:
Juniors Dicky Fairman (11 ppg), John Benson (11 ppg, 3 rpg), and Steven Clemons (7 ppg, 10 rpg, 2 bpg) for Rockhurst. For San Diego, Josh Tarvor (17 ppg, 7 rpg), Roy Wilson (14 ppg, 6 apg) and Harold Larson (12 ppg, 4 rpg, 57% from three-point range).
UC-San Diego 68, Rockhurst 58
Oklahoma Panhandle State (0-6) at Dominguez Hills (4-2)
OPSU deceives with its 0-6 record. They have played one of the toughest schedules thus far and feature a young roster that continues to improve with each game. therewas47, in his second season as head coach, was left with the proverbial "bare cupboard" and has had to rebuild this program from the ground up. Certainly that hard work as paid off, as this team features a group of freshmen that are as talented as any in the conference.
"We've had to start from scratch out here, but I'm proud of the improvements we've made," said therewas47. "This team is built for the future, but maybe the future starts now."
The Hills has enjoyed five straight seasons of postseason berths, and is coming off its first 20-win campaign in nearly 25 seasons. This is a program in transition, however, as last season's talented senior class has graduated and the program is left with primarily juniors and freshmen to continue building a tradition of excellence.
"We are excited to be a part of this inaugural conference challenge," said simpleton. "Oklahoma Panhandle is a quality team and we'll need to play well to beat them. Like we've done all season, I'll ask our guys to just go out and play ball and have fun. Our guys have responded well to those instructions, and I'm expecting more of the same tonight."
Players to Watch:
For OPSU, senior Anthony Chapman (12 ppg) and freshman John Bullard (4 ppg, 5 rpg, 75% FG). For The Hills, senior Randy Campbell (10 ppg, 6 rpg) and junior Sam Amado (8 ppg, 9 rpg).
The Hills 64, OPSU 61
St. Edwards (4-2) at Stanislaus (4-2)
Preview: gopokes24 has sent his team to the postseason every year that he's been head coach, and this year should be no different. A balanced attack across the board, St. Edwards's only two losses this season were at the hands of ranked programs. A team featuring no seniors and a lot of young talent, expect to hear the name "St. Edwards" frequently this year and in the years to come.
"I'm proud to be a part of this institution and to work with these quality young men," said gopokes24. "They are a pleasure to coach, and I'm excited to see what we can accomplish this season."
Stanislaus is under new leadership with luthien217 at the helm, and already they've won more games this year than the past two years. With luthien's attention to detail and gameplanning, coupled with his ability to recruit quality student-athletes, this is a program that looks to be on the rise in a very big way.
"The previous coach sucked," said luthien. "I had to practically start over. The seniors were excited to have a real coach come on board, and they've responded really well. It'll be sad to see them go but they aren't great D-II players anyway. I need my own players. Guys who know how to play ball."
Players to Watch: For St. Edwards, Robert Chamberlain (13 ppg, 6 rpg) and Phil Guthrie (10 ppg, 4 rpg). For Stanislaus, Frank Sadoski (15 ppg, 4 rpg) and Ken Hornbuckle (12 ppg, 6 rpg, 56% FG).
Vegas Says...St. Edwards 68, Stanislaus 56