Advertisement
YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections

COLLEGE BASKETBALL / 2000-2001 PREVIEW

Matadors Starting at Top of Heap

CS Northridge: With four starters back, team is unanimous selection to win conference title in final Big Sky season.

November 16, 2000|VINCE KOWALICK | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Cal State Northridge figures to finish its final season in the Big Sky Conference with its first NCAA tournament appearance.

That's the prediction, at least, of coaches and media, who overwhelmingly picked the Matadors to win the Big Sky title and the conference's lone playoff berth before moving to the Big West next season.

Northridge was 20-10 last season and came within a missed layup by Markus Carr with five seconds left against Northern Arizona of winning the Big Sky tournament. The Lumberjacks won in overtime, 85-81, ending the Matadors' best season in Division I.

This season, with four starters back on a roster full of returning players, Northridge finds itself in the unprecedented role of favorite.

Not only was the vote among Big Sky coaches unanimous, the Matadors received an unprecedented three votes in the Associated Press preseason top 25 poll.

"We are very excited about the season," Northridge Coach Bobby Braswell said. "We kind of have mixed emotions because this is our last year in the Big Sky Conference. The polls don't mean anything and we are going to have to get out there and show what we can do."

Northridge has steadily improved in four seasons under Braswell, a former Oregon assistant who began his coaching career at Cleveland High in Reseda.

The Matadors have posted consecutive winning seasons for the first time since moving to Division I in 1990. Impressive road victories last season over Fresno State and Oregon earned the Matadors national recognition.

Braswell has considered coaching positions elsewhere the last two seasons. However, in July, he signed a four-year contract extension with a base salary of $100,116.

"People talk about all the pressure, but I don't believe in putting any pressure on myself. I challenge my players and I challenge myself," he said. "But we still have to go out and play the games."

Optimism understandably abounds.

"It feels good to be [considered] No. 1 in the conference," guard Carl Holmes said. "I've been here four years and that's never happened. It gives us a lot of confidence."

Northridge, missing only one starter from last season, has more depth than any team in the Big Sky. The Matadors also have fortified their frontcourt, which lacked muscle last season.

Carr, a junior point guard, and senior center Brian Heinle, who averaged a team-high 14.6 points and 6.4 rebounds, were All-Big Sky selections. Forward Jeff Parris, who averaged 11.9 points, was honorable mention.

Heinle, the Big Sky's best post player, has added 10 pounds to his 6-foot-9, 230-pound frame. Center Dan Read (6-10, 225) is beefier too, and versatile forward Jermar Welch (6-7, 220) returns after being sidelined nearly all of last season because of a broken wrist.

Perhaps the team's most important addition is guard John Burrell, a transfer from Nevada who led the Wolfpack in scoring in 1998-99, averaging 16.4 points.

(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX / INFOGRAPHIC)

Cal State Northridge / Matadors at a Glance

Date: Opponent, Time

Sunday: HOWARD, 5

Tuesday: at UCLA, 7:30

Nov. 25: at Nevada Las Vegas, 7:30

Nov. 28: CAL POLY POMONA, 7

Dec. 1: Kent State (Marquette tournament), 3:30

Dec. 2: Centenary College (Marquette tournament) 6

Dec. 5: at USC, 7:30

Dec. 7: WYOMING, 7

Dec. 18: at James Madison, 4

Dec. 21: Alabama Birmingham (Nike Festival at Hawaii), 8

Dec. 22: Hawaii (Nike Festival), 10:30

Dec. 23: Georgia State (Nike Festival), 10:30

Dec. 28: VANGUARD, 7

Jan. 4: *at Weber State, 6

Jan. 6: *at Sacramento State, 7

Jan. 11: *at Northern Arizona, 6

Jan. 13: *IDAHO STATE, 7

Jan. 18: *PORTLAND STATE, 7

Jan. 20: *EASTERN WASHINGTON, 7

Jan. 25: *at Montana State, 6

Jan. 27: *at Montana, 6

Jan. 31: *SACRAMENTO STATE 7

Feb. 1: *WEBER STATE, 7

Feb. 8: *at IDAHO STATE, 6

Feb. 17: *NORTHERN ARIZONA, 7

Feb. 22: *MONTANA, 7

Feb. 24: *MONTANA STATE, 7

March 1: *at Eastern Washington, 7

March 3: *at Portland State, 7

March 8-10: Big Sky Conference tournament, TBA

Home games in CAPS; all times Pacific; *--conference games

ROSTER

*--*

No. Player P Ht Wt Yr 3 Denny Ogden G 6-2 185 Sr.

*--*

Three-point threat off the bench.

*

*--*

No. Player P Ht Wt Yr 4 Craig Calloway G 6-0 183 So.

*--*

Former Long Beach Jordan standout has played sparingly.

*

*--*

No. Player P Ht Wt Yr 5 Marco McCain G 6-3 190 Sr.

*--*

Led Northridge with 43 three-point baskets.

*

*--*

No. Player P Ht Wt Yr 10 Lionel Benjamin F 6-4 205 So.

*--*

Good ball handler, played in only 13 games last season.

*

*--*

No. Player P Ht Wt Yr 12 Markus Carr G 6-1 180 Jr.

*--*

Court leader, led Big Sky in assists (6.9).

*

*--*

No. Player P Ht Wt Yr 20 Carl Holmes G/F 6-2 180 Sr.

*--*

Voted team's best defensive player.

*

*--*

No. Player P Ht Wt Yr 21 Jermar Welch F 6-7 220 Sr.

*--*

Sidelined most of last season because of broken hand.

*

*--*

No. Player P Ht Wt Yr 24 Keith Jackson G 6-0 170 Fr.

*--*

Redshirted last season after walking on.

*

*--*

No. Player P Ht Wt Yr 25 John Burrell G 6-3 200 Sr.

*--*

Transfer from Nevada, led Wolfpack in scoring in 1998-99.

*

*--*

No. Player P Ht Wt Yr 31 Brian Heinle F/C 6-9 225 Sr.

*--*

Go-to guy, averaged team-high 14.6 points, 6.4 rebounds.

*

*--*

No. Player P Ht Wt Yr 34 Joey Busch F/C 6-7 230 Jr.

*--*

Transfer from Chaffey JC, will provide rebounding off the bench.

*

*--*

No. Player P Ht Wt Yr 42 Jeff Parris F 6-5 223 Sr.

*--*

Four-year starter, among Big Sky's best rebounders.

*

*--*

No. Player P Ht Wt Yr 44 Dan Read C 6-10 225 So.

*--*

Added much-needed muscle during the off-season.

*

*--*

No. Player P Ht Wt Yr 55 Sydney Hampton G/F 6-4 195 Fr.

*--*

Standout at Valley View High, likely to redshirt.

Advertisement
Los Angeles Times Articles
|
|
|