Struggling Broncos look for non-conference win tonight

POMONA – The season is starting to wear on Cal Poly Pomona men’s basketball coach Greg Kamansky. And it is only six games old.

The Broncos are just 1-5, their worst start since going 1-6 to start the 1981-82 campaign. They have a chance to get back on track tonight as LeMoyne (6-5), a Division II school out of Syracuse, N.Y. stops in for a 4 p.m. game at Kellogg Gymnasium. It will be the final non-conference tune-up for the Broncos, who resume CCAA play the following weekend.

The record isn’t what bothers the veteran coach the most. It is the way his team has looked in those losses. He sees a lack of competitiveness, heart and organization, especially on the offensive end of the court.

“We don’t have the most talent so we can’t afford to play stupid,” he said. “We have to go out there and want to compete. The way things have been going lately, if one thing goes bad, it completely breaks our spirit and we’re not able to bounce back.”

Kamansky would like to think his team has a shot at turning things around but nothing he has seen leads him to believe that will happen.

“There’s blood in the water and the sharks are circling and we’re looking like good bait,” he said. “I’m sure our opponents can’t wait to get their hands on us, especially the teams we have had our way with the last few years.”

The Broncos lack of depth will be further tested tonight as they will be without 6-foot-7 senior center Kaelen Daniels (6.8 ppg, 3 rpg) who was ejected from Cal Poly’s last game against Central Washington in Las Vegas for throwing a punch.

Senior Kevin Neveu (6.5 ppg, 2.8 rpg) will inherit the majority of the playing time in Daniels’ absence.

The Broncos have gotten solid play out of junior forward Larry Gordon (17.3 ppg, 8.7 rpg), who earned all-tournament honors in Las Vegas despite the 0-2 showing. He ranks fifth in the conference in socring and second in rebounding.

But the Broncos will need a steadier effort from erratic senior guard Angelo Tsagarakis (13.8 ppg), as well as sophomore Donnelle Booker (6.6 ppg), who thus far has looked little like the player who earned CCAA Freshman of the Year honors last season.

Kamansky said the next three games will prove crucial. After today the Broncos, who were picked to finish second in the conference, get back to CCAA play with home games Friday and Saturday against Dominguez Hills and Cal State Los Angeles. Despite the poor start Cal Poly is still just 1-1 in conference.

“If we can win two out of three then we’ll at last have something to hang our hat on,” he said. “But the the way we have been playing we’re just as capable of losing all three. I don’t know what to expect.”

LeMoyne, which plays in the Northeast-10 conference, arrived earlier in the week and squared off Thursday against Cal State Los Angeles, losing 76-57.

Sophomore forward Laurence Ekperigin (17.3 ppg, 9.1 rpg) is the Dolphins top player. Two others – senior guard Jason Holmes (13.4 ppg) and senior forward Jonathan Joshua (10.8 ppg) – are also averaging double figures.

Ekperigin had 12 points and nine rebounds in Thursday’s game against the Golden Eagles.