Bumped - P
CSUN and USC have more in common this year than most people seem to know. The Matador's basketball team is banned from the postseason this year for its repeated failure to reach the NCAA mandated academic progress requirements and it shouldn't be much of a surprise as discipline has been lacking in the program, both on and off the floor.
In 2009, CSUN basketball player Jeffrey Braswell, the son of head coach Bobby Braswell, was sentenced to three years probation and 300 hours of community service after pleading no contest for helping two fellow teammates steal more than $7,000 from a Northridge Best Buy that Jeffrey worked at. The failure to meet the NCAA's APR was not a shock to Braswell, saying "we had junior college guys and some of them left school early, so we kind of knew what we were going to be. So we're going to use this year for the young guys to take a little bit of pressure off themselves."
With that said, they are going to need those young guys to step up. The Matadors lost 4 starters from last years team and the top two returning scorers, Senior Vinnie McGhee and Sophomore Josh Greene only averaged 6.7 and 6.5 points respectively. Braswell however is the antithesis of Coach O'Neill, playing 13 players on average at least 7 minutes a game, so the Matadors will have fresh and somewhat experienced kids coming in and out of the game all the time.
Last year's team was supremely effective in getting to the tin, attempting the 11th most free throws per game at 25.9, but conversely, they gave up the 2nd most of any D1 team at 29.1. Two seasons ago, they gave up the 15th most FT/game and three seasons ago they were 300th in the nation. That's the style the Matadors have been know to play the last few years as Braswell loves to bring in athletic JuCo players who can score but defend extremely poorly. However, Lenny Daniel has graduated and moved on which is going to make life rough for the Matadors as Daniel drew the 2nd most fouls per 40 minutes played at 8.2. They also lost Rashaun McLemore who drew 6.6, 40th in the nation. Even though they are gone we can expect a lot of driving to the hoop from the Matadors with McGhee shooting from the outside to keep us honest. He chucked 4.7 and 4.8 a game over the last two years making about 35%.
Braswell's club is also known for their frenetic full-court press which, when it's working effectively, can propel the team to some good play. The press is what brought the Matadors back from a 5-13 start to finish third in the league and reach the Big West semi's where they fell to the eventual Big West tournament champs UC Santa Barbara. In their only game so far, CSUN's press forced D2 Cal Baptist into 19 turnovers and the defense held the visiting Lancers to 29 percent shooting from the floor. Cal Baptist may be a division two team but the game last Saturday shows the Trojans they can expect more of the same from Braswell and his squad. If the Matadors are going to keep themselves in this game, it's going to be with the press because they are severely lacking experience at the 4 and 5.
Daniel was third in the Big West in rebounding last year and best returning rebounders are 6-8 senior John Hayward-Mayhew (1.4 PPG, 1.4 RPG) and 6-7 sophomore Thomas Jacobs (1.7 PPG, 2.1 RPG) so to say they're going to struggle on the glass this year is an understatement. They also have a 6-10 sophomore Frankie Eteuati but to say he doesn't quite have a D1 body yet is an understatement because Eteuati weighs in at 185 pounds.
As a final note, keep an eye out for freshmen Stephen Hicks and Allan Guei. Guei, a crafty 5-9 guard, averaged 20.1 points his senior year last year at Compton High and has the ability to slash and get to the hoop a-la our own point man Maurice Jones. Guei had 13 in the game against Cal Baptist and Hicks had 11 in the first half before twisting his ankle early in the second half. His status is unsure for the game Friday but if he can go, he definitely has the ability make an impact as he averaged 18 and 6 in high school at National College Prep in Thousand Oaks.
Bottom line is the Matadors don't have the talent to compete game in and game out against teams like USC but for a one game stint, their press can keep them in the game if they find a team unprepared to go against it. Maurice Jones has the ability to single handedly dribble through a press but not every time down the court so the rest of the guys on the court will have to stay focused and remember to hang back and help. If we don't, this game can be much closer than it should be.
The men start at 8 PM on Friday at Galen Center and if you're available to make it, you should show up at 5 to see the ladies take on Fresno State. The Women of Troy are ranked 23rd in both the AP and ESPN/USA Today polls.