Cal State Northridge this week will make its second two-game trip of the season for basketball games that are nonconference, but not nonessential.
At least that is the view of Coach Pete Cassidy, whose Matadors were blown out by Wichita State and Kansas State the last time they left town.
The first trip gave Northridge a taste of Division I competition and life together on the road. This trip, for games Monday at Cal State Sacramento and Tuesday at UC Davis, will act as a barometer of how much the team has recovered--and advanced--since then.
The Matadors are 4-2 and coming off impressive victories over The Master's, 85-55, and San Francisco State, 84-60. The games against Sacramento and Davis both should be significantly tougher--and more meaningful--tests, however.
The Hornets and the Aggies are among the best Division II teams in Northern California and victories could become important if it comes down to choosing among the three in March for a berth in the regional playoffs.
Sacramento is 10-3 going into its game tonight against Pacific. The Hornets are 7-0 on their home court, where they have won 15 consecutive games dating to last season.
Alex Williams, a 6-0 senior guard, gives Sacramento one of the premier long-distance shooters in Division II. He has a 25.3 scoring average and has made 73 of 150 attempts from three-point range.
Williams, who beat Northridge last year with a three-pointer in the final seconds, made 11 of 17 three-point attempts and scored a season-high 41 points in the Hornets' 113-92 victory over Cal State Hayward on Tuesday. It was the fifth time this season that Williams had scored more than 30 points in a game and the second time Sacramento scored more than 100 points. The Hornets average 88 points a game.
Sacramento's top three scorers are guards. Chris Farr is averaging 18 points and nine assists in the three games he has started. Robert Martin is averaging 17.7 off the bench and made 7 of 12 three-point attempts in scoring 27 against Hayward.
"They're all athletes and super shooters," Cassidy said of the Sacramento backcourt. "The problem is, they're very quick so not only can they hit the three-point shot, but they can drive. That's a great challenge for us."
UC Davis' structured offense is quite a contrast to the fast-paced attack Northridge will see from Sacramento.
The Aggies rely on a strong inside game anchored by center Pete Buchwald and forward Randy DeBortoli.
Buchwald, a 6-8 senior, missed Davis' last two games because of a sprained ankle but is expected to play against the Matadors. He averages 16.2 points and eight rebounds a game. DeBortoli, a 6-5, 220-pound senior, averages 17.3 points and 6.6 rebounds.
Pat Bolden, a senior forward, averages 15.8 points and 6.3 rebounds to lead Northridge in both categories. Guard Chuck McGavran averages 14 points a game and center Todd Bowser averages 10.3 points and 5.8 rebounds.