Men's Hoops Season Begins On Friday
2015-16 Men's Basketball Release No. 1
All nine Big West clubs are in action as the 2015-16 men's basketball season officially tips off on Friday. Last year's regular season champion UC Davis and tournament champion UC Irvine begin their schedules at home.
For Openers: Cal Poly opens the seventh season of the Joe Callero era on Friday at UNLV in the opening round of the Maui Jim Maui Invitational. The Mustangs also play at UCLA on Sunday. Cal Poly is 2-4 under Callero in season openers, including losses in each of the last three years.
They’re Back: The Mustangs return their top five scorers from the 2014-15 season, led by senior Brian Bennett (11.5 ppg). The squad brings back 1,373 of 1,752 total points scored, or 78.3 percent of the offense.
Milestone Watch: Bennett is the closest to becoming the 22nd player in school history to reach the 1,000-point milestone. He enters the season with 839 career points. Senior David Nwaba needs to score 328 points to hit the millenium mark.
From Downtown: The team also welcomes back its two most potent perimeter threats in Reese Morgan and Ridge Shipley, who combined to drain 84 three-pointers last year.
CAL STATE FULLERTON
For Openers: Cal State Fullerton begins the third year of the Dedrique Taylor regime with a road game Friday at Loyola Marymount. Taylor is 1-1 in season openers. The Titans return one starter and four letterwinners to go along with two Division I transfers in Tre’ Coggins (Air Force) and Malcolm Brooks (Pepperdine).
Coggins Credentials: Coggins looks to provide an immediate impact for the Titans with his scoring prowess. He averaged a team-leading 16.0 points per game as a sophomore at Air Force in 2013-14. The 6-2 guard also led the Falcons with 72 three-pointers and 32 steals.
Johnson’s Role: Senior Lanneryl Johnson split time in the starting lineup and as a reserve in 2014-15. He ended up as the Titans’ No. 2 scorer (12.4 ppg), scoring in double figures seven times in the last eight games. He dropped a career-high 31 points in one game against S.C. Upstate.
Hello, WCC: CSF opens the season with three straight games against WCC opponents.
For Openers: The Matadors head to DeKalb, Ill. to take part in the Northern Illinois Showcase this weekend. CSUN squares off against the host Huskies, Wright State and South Dakota on consecutive days. The NIU game will be shown on ESPN3.
Tre Hale’s Tale: Versatile Tre Hale-Edmerson embarks upon his senior campaign entrenched among active Big West career leaders in all major categories – scoring (561, 9th), rebounding (537, 2nd), assists (209, 6th), blocked shots (136, 2nd) and steals (111, 1st). Edmerson already is CSUN’s career blocked shots leader, and is 11 steals away from entering the top-10.
Theus Extended: Head coach Reggie Theus, entering his third year at CSUN, earned a four-year extension on his appointment through the 2019-20 season. He has led the Matadors to the Big West Tournament in each of his first two seasons.
Road Warriors: Eight of CSUN’s first 10 games are roadies.
LONG BEACH STATE
For Openers: Long Beach State seeks to win its fifth straight home opener as the squad prepares to face BYU-Hawaii in Saturday’s Homecoming game. The 49ers are 6-2 all-time in home openers under head coach Dan Monson.
Back In Time: For the first time since the 2006-07 season, Monson’s first with the 49ers, the team returns no starters from the previous season. However, LBSU features three talented Division I transfers and the return of a starter from the 2013-14 squad in A.J. Spencer. The notable transfers are Nick Faust (Maryland), Roschon Prince (USC) and Gabe Levin (Loyola Marymount).
Buckle Up: No stranger to rugged non-conference schedules, the 49ers are revving up once again to tackling an impressive slate of opponents. Among the teams LBSU is slated to face are No. 5 Duke and No. 12 Arizona.
More On Monson: Monson is No. 15 in Big West history with 135 career wins. He is three shy of the No. 14 spot (Rod Tueller, Utah State, 138), and San Jose State’s Bill Berry (142) occupies the No. 13 slot.
For Openers: UC Davis is coming off the best season in the program’s Division I history, having posted a 25-7 overall record and winning the Big West regular season title with a 14-2 mark. The Aggies return two starters and another key piece in reigning Big West Sixth Man of the Year Josh Fox, who enters his senior season.
Sly As A Fox: Fox averaged 9.0 points per game and shot nearly 60 percent from the field as he also earned all-conference honorable mention recognition. Fox would have led the league in field goal percentage (.596), but just missed out on the minimum of four made field goals per game.
Home Court Happiness: UC Davis finished a perfect 14-0 inside The Pavilion last year, and hopes to extend its home court win streak with three straight inside the friendly confines to start the season. The Aggies welcome North Dakota State and Portland this weekend.
Debut Notes: The Aggies had lost six straight season openers before taking down Holy Names in their 2014-15 debut. UC Davis has won two consecutive home openers.
For Openers: UC Irvine starts out at home for the fourth consecutive season, entertaining UC San Diego on Friday before Loyola Marymount invades the Bren Events Center on Sunday.
Mamadou Recognized: Big things are expected from UCI’s mammoth 7-6 center Mamadou Ndiaye. The junior was named to the Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Center of the Year Award Watch List, recognizing the top center in basketball. More recently, he was added to the Lou Henson Award Preseason Watch List for the second straight year. That honor targets the top Mid-Major player across the country.
Record On Notice: Senior point guard Alex Young is poised to become the school’s career assist leader. He is currently No. 3 on the all-time list with 414, well within range of record holder Raimonds Miglinieks (475, 1994-96).
De-Fense, De-Fense: The Anteaters have won 65 games over the last three season in large part due to defense. UCI has won 48 of its last 50 games when the opponent scores 60 points or less. The Anteaters were 15-2 in those games last season.
For Openers: UC Riverside seeks its second straight season opening victory when it hosts William Jessup on Saturday. The Highlanders play three of their first four games at the SRC Arena.
Home Court Hype: UC Riverside enjoyed a banner season at home in 2014-15, going 12-3 at the SRC Arena to establish a Division I high water mark for home court victories.
It’s A Process: The improvement from six to 10 to 14 wins over the last three seasons led the school to sign head coach Dennis Cutts to a contract extension through the 2019-20 season. UC Riverside’s 14-17 overall record and 7-9 mark in Big West play last year totaled the second-most in the program’s Division I history.
Johns Looking For Huge Season: UC Riverside senior Taylor Johns, a returning all-conference first team selection, ranked third in the Big West in scoring (16.3 ppg) and second in rebounding (8.2 rpg) last season. He also was the league’s second-most prolific shot blocker with 1.7 per game. His 150 career blocks ranks No. 8 in Big West history, and he’s only 11 swats from the No. 5 slot.
UC SANTA BARBARA
For Openers: The Gauchos have won 10 of their last 12 season openers under head coach Bob Williams. They are opening up on the road for the third time in the last four seasons when they meet Nebraska-Omaha on Friday. Ten of UCSB’s first 12 games are on the road.
The Dean: UCSB 17th-year head coach Bob Williams is in line to reach a career milestone with his 300th victory. He is 288-224 (.563) all-time at the school, and only two other coaches have achieved at least 300 wins in Big West history – Pacific’s Bob Thomason (436) and Jerry Tarkanian (405) of Long Beach State and UNLV.
No Longer Green: After playing in just three official games over his first three seasons, forward John Green logged all 33 games in 2014-15 and was quite productive. Green averaged 11.3 points and 4.1 rebounds while shooting 47.7 percent (153-of-321) from the field.
Vincent Poised For Big Year: The Gauchos welcome back Big West Freshman of the Year Gabe Vincent, who hit 57 three-pointers in 2014-15.
For Openers: Hawai‘i begins the Eran Ganot era with the annual Outrigger Resorts Rainbow Classic, battling Montana State, Coastal Carolina and Nevada during the opening week of the season. The Nevada game will be included in the ESPN 24-Hour College Basketball marathon.
Bobbitt Back For An Encore: Senior guard Roderick Bobbitt led the nation in steals last season with 100 and ranked third in steals per game (2.86). He became just the fourth player in Big West history to reach the century mark in steals, joining UNLV’s Greg Anthony (106), Utah State’s Jay Goodman (102) and Long Beach State’s Rasul Salahuddin (101).
High Octane Offense: The Rainbow Warriors have led the Big West in scoring offense in each of the last two seasons. They averaged 72.9 points per game last season, topping the 70-point plateau in 23 of 35 games.
Foundation Is There: Four of UH’s top five scorers are back, led by junior Aaron Valdes, who led the team with 13.7 points per game and is a preseason all-conference pick.