For the Chapman men's basketball team, a group desperately seeking a victory, help is on the way.
In this case, help takes the form of Susquehana University, a small Division III school located in Selinsgrove, Pa.
Chapman plays Susquehana at 8 tonight in the first round of Chapman/Doubletree Tournament in the Hutton Sports Center. In the opening game, at 6, the University of Puget Sound plays Sacramento State.
As tournament host Chapman no doubt has the easiest route to reach the championship playing Susquehana.
But unlike last year, when Chapman met Bemidji State, a mid-sized Division II school in northern Minnesota, the Panthers already had two victories before the tournament.
This season, reaching the final takes on a whole new meaning. It means winning a game.
The Panthers are 0-3 after a Hawaiian tour against NAIA schools Brigham Young University-Hawaii, Chaminade and Hawaii Pacific.
And, to make things worse, senior swingman Jon Samuelson suffered a knee injury in the Chaminade game. Samuelson, the team's most valuable player last season, missed the final game of the trip and didn't practice the last two days.
However, he visited the doctor Wednesday and the injury appeared to be a slight strain or bruise. Samuelson is expected to play tonight.
In a 75-72 loss to Chaminade, Samuelson led the Panthers with 20 points and 7 assists. Karl Tompkins had 13 points and 12 rebounds. Jim Saia came off the bench near the end of the game and made a three-pointer to cut the deficit to 71-67. Later, with about 20 seconds remaining, Saia just missed another three-pointer, which would have left Chapman behind by one.
That's as close as Chapman could get during the three games.
Here are a few of the trip's few highlights:
--Kelly Huston had 25 points in the first game, a 103-94 loss to BYU-Hawaii. He scored 28 points, a career high, against Hawaii Pacific. Huston's three-game average is 21.3.
--David Roth, a freshman from Orange High, got better with each game. He had six points in the first game, seven points in 12 minutes against Chaminade and 11 points in 14 minutes in the finale. Roth will be playing more and more.
--The Panther offense is more potent than at this time last year. Chapman is averaging 83 points a game. But there is a down side as the Panthers have allowed 89 points a game.
Tonight's opponent, Susquehana, won its opener against Lycoming (Pa.) and lost to Lock Haven State College (Pa.) Tuesday night. The Crusaders are led by senior center Bruce Merklinger, who had 19 points and 12 rebounds in the first game.
Puget Sound, a Division II school, also is 1-1. It beat Warner Pacific (Ore.) and lost to Seattle Pacific. Bob Ostlund, a junior guard, had 35 points in the opener.
Division II Sacramento State is 1-2 after losing to Cal State Bakersfield and Sonoma State University. The Hornets defeated Cal State Northridge.
The Chapman women's basketball team plays Eastern Washington at 2 p.m. in Hutton Sports Center in its tournament opener. The other teams are Northern Arizona and Colorado, which finished second in the Big Eight Conference last year. Eastern Washington, Northern Arizona and Colorado are Division I schools.
The Panthers opened their season with three games at Billings, Mont. They beat Eastern Montana, 80-77, and lost to Rocky Mountain College (Mont.) and St. Cloud State University (Minn.).
Valarie Hartsfield leads Chapman with a 20.3 average and Karen Polk is averaging 14.7 points.