ORANGE — After two seasons of depending on post players shorter than many NBA guards, Chapman University Coach Bob Boyd went after some players with size.
He landed some big ones--6-foot-8 Marcell Driver, 6-7 Richie Bethune and 6-6 Leonard Rhodes--but with the Panthers' season opener less than a week away, Boyd still isn't sure who will be his starting center.
Bethune isn't expected to become eligible until late December, Driver has missed some practices because of illness and didn't play in the Panthers' exhibition loss to High Five America Wednesday, and Rhodes has been inconsistent in practice.
Furthermore, Frantz Reyes, the 6-5 starting post player for much of last season, is recovering from reconstructive knee surgery and probably won't play until January.
"If we put this all together, this position is strong on our team," Boyd said. "Right now, it's zero."
However, Boyd is confident that the uncertainty is only temporary.
"While in late November and part of December we won't be quite together yet," he said, "I think by the time of the conference season our team will be together and that will give us a legitimate contender in this league."
That would be a first for Chapman under Boyd. In Boyd's two seasons, the Panthers have won only five of 26 games in the California Collegiate Athletic Assn. Last year, part of the problem, Boyd said, is that the team lacked mental toughness and therefore wilted in close conference games. Half of Chapman's 10 conference losses were by five points or fewer.
So when Boyd searched for replacement players, he looked first for big, strong ones. Of the nine newcomers to the team, three are inside players.
--Driver, a transfer from Ball State, might have the most impressive credentials. Three seasons ago, playing for Citrus College in Glendora, he led the state in scoring with a 27.2 average and averaged 10.3 rebounds. A leg injury sidelined him the next season. He transferred to Ball State last year, but quit the team before the season.
--Bethune, who averaged 15 points and nine rebounds for Southwestern last season, won't become eligible until he completes the requirements for his associate of arts degree from Southwestern. Boyd hopes Bethune will become eligible by the Grand Canyon Tournament Dec. 27.
--Rhodes, who played in the 1988 McDonald's All-America all-star game after playing at Fairdale High School in Kentucky, averaged 10 points and nine rebounds last season for Mt. San Jacinto College.
The addition of the inside bulk should take some of the pressure off Chapman's only consistent player the past two seasons: senior Rog Middleton, an honorable mention All-American and two-time first-team All-CCAA selection.
Middleton, a 6-4 forward from Tustin High, led the Panthers in scoring (20 points) and rebounding (eight), although he often had to play out of position at center. Middleton, the fifth-leading scorer in Chapman history, with 1,423 points, should surpass the top mark of 1,884 points Bob Hamblin scored from 1956 to '59.
Alan Schlines, a 6-6 forward, will also provide help on the inside.
The Panthers also needed to replace their backcourt because starting guards Chris Martin, Chuck McGavran and Andre Hill played out their eligibility.
Five transfers--Jeff Gardner from Lee College in Baytown, Tex., Mike Vaughn from Grand Canyon, Vern Broadnax from Rancho Santiago, Brian Kenney from Cypress and Michael Bailey from Irvine Valley--will battle for playing time at guard.
Broadnax, the starting point guard for the Rancho Santiago teams that won consecutive state titles, is a sure ballhandler with a good outside shot. Kenney averaged 13.8 points for Cypress.
Brad Grubaugh, a 6-3 freshman forward from Rancho Buena Vista High in Vista, might get playing time.
All told, there are nine new personalities to blend with the three players from last year's team.
"They have a focus about them and a tough-mindedness about them that I think has improved over last year," Boyd said. Chapman University Men's Schedule
ALL TIMES PACIFIC
Date Opponent Time Nov. 22 Chapman Doubletree Tourn. 8 Nov. 23 Chapman Doubletree Tourn. TBA Nov. 26 at Texas El Paso 6:30 Nov. 30 La Verne 7:30 Dec. 3 at Biola 7:30 Dec. 6 Cal State Hayward 7:30 Dec. 10 at Bethany 7:30 Dec. 11 at San Francisco State 7:30 Dec. 20 Christ College Irvine 7:30 Dec. 27 Grand Canyon Tournament TBA Dec. 28 Grand Canyon Tournament TBA Jan. 4 Cal Baptist 7:30 Jan. 10 at Cal State San Bernardino 7:30 Jan. 11 at UC Riverside 8:05 Jan. 17 Cal State Los Angeles 8:05 Jan. 18 at Cal Poly Pomona 7:30 Jan. 24 Cal State Bakersfield 7:30 Jan. 25 Cal Poly San Luis Obispo 8:05 Jan. 31 at Cal State Dominguez Hills 7:30 Feb. 7 at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo 8:05 Feb. 8 at Cal State Bakersfield 7:30 Feb. 14 Cal Poly Pomona 7:30 Feb. 15 at Cal State Los Angeles 8:05 Feb. 21 UC Riverside 7:30 Feb. 22 Cal State San Bernardino 7:30 Feb. 29 Cal State Dominguez Hills 7:30
Chapman University Men's Roster
No. Player Pos Yr Hgt Wgt 5 Vern Broadnax G Jr 5-10 170 20 Alan Schlines F Sr 6-6 210 21 Brian Kenney G Jr 6-1 170 22 Jeff Gardner G Jr 6-3 180 24 Mike Vaughn G Jr 6-1 180 30 Michael Bailey G So 6-3 185 33 Brad Grubaugh F Fr 6-3 200 34 Leonard Rhodes F Jr 6-6 250 42 Marcell Driver C Jr 6-8 225 44 Frantz Reyes F Sr 6-5 220 50 Richie Bethune F Jr 6-7 210 55 Rog Middleton F Sr 6-4 235
Coach: Bob Boyd