It looks like Cal Poly Pomona men’s basketball coach Greg Kamansky will be the one getting the last laugh.
He is the first to admit his team hardly looks imposing when it takes the court for pregame warmups. He has been down to eight players for much of the year and those eight don’t look like the most athletic bunch.
But the Broncos (19-6, 15-5) finished tied for first in the CCAA with more physically imposing teams from Cal State San Bernardino (17-9, 15-5) and Cal State Dominguez Hills (21-6, 15-5).
Cal Poly got the tiebreaker and will enter this week’s CCAA Tournament as the top seed. It will host No. 8 San Francisco State (14-13, 8-12) at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday at Kellogg Gymnasium. Friday’s semifinals and Saturday’s championship game will be at Coussoulis Arena on the campus of Cal State San Bernardino.
“It’s actually pretty funny,” Kamansky said. “We’re out there with our seven, eight guys and we’re clanking shots all over the place. Other coaches are laughing at us. Fans are laughing at us. I know. I’ve seen it.”
Six weeks ago the Broncos were in desperation mode. They were 9-6 overall and 5-5 in conference play. Kamansky was just hoping to get in the conference tournament. He never imagined being the top seed. But the Broncos swept the back half of their schedule, a significant feat in such a depp conference.
They will head into Tuesday’s game riding a 10-game win streak.
“It just goes to show what can happen when you have good team chemistry and guys believe in the system and their teammates,” Kamansky said.
The Broncos are led by senior Larry Gordon (14 ppg, 10.3 rpg), a mainstay in the lineup for his four years. Austin Swift (10.8 ppg, 5.2 rpg) and Walter Thompson (11.6 ppg) have emerged as good complimentary players.
But Kamansky credits the team’s hot streak up to the improved play of his young post players – true freshman Dwyane Fells (5.6 ppg, 3.8 rpg) and sophomore Tobias Jahn (8.7 ppg, 5.4 rpg).
“They have given us a presence in the paint we didn’t have early on” he said. “It adds another dimension to this team.”
While the Broncos have pretty much clinched a spot in the West Region tournament no matter how they fare this week, they still have something to play for.
They are currently ranked third in the region and could move up to second since No. 2 Dominguez Hills lost last week.
If they can finish second they would likely host a four-team sub-regional if the NCAA decides to use that format rather than the traditional eight-team regional at one site.
“Who would have thought?” Kamansky sighed.
CAL POLY WOMEN GET CHICO STATE
The men’s game will follow the 5:30 p.m. women’s game as coach Scott Davis’ team also earned a home game.
The No. 4 seeded Broncos (16-13, 12-8) will host No. 5 Chico State (15-12, 11-9). The teams split during the regular season with each winning on its home floor.
On the season the Broncos are 9-3 at Kellogg Gymnasium.
Unlike the Cal Poly men, the women need a big effort in the tournament. They currently sit eighth in the West Region, despite having two wins over No. 6 Dominguez Hills and one over No. 7 Northwest Nazarene.
“I think we need to win it to get in even though we have those wins over teams ahead of us,” Davis said.
UC San Diego (26-3, 19-1) is the top seed but Davis is most leery of No. 2 Humboldt State (21-6, 16-4) which has won eight straight games.
“They are playing the best right now and they have a lot of weapons,” he said.