Coyotes and Broncos limping along

CCAA men’s basketball teams may be just seven games into a 22-game conference schedule but it is clear that there is no one dominant team.

Cal Poly Pomona was 8-0 and 5-0 in CCAA play before being throttled by Cal State East Bay 57-54 on Thursday. That put the Broncos and local rival Cal State San Bernardino in a tie for first place. Then the Coyotes lost to Chico State in ugly fashion 63-56 on Friday.

No game is a gimme in this conference and there doesn’t seem to be a team to beat. Humboldt State was the coaches pick for the top spot but the Lumberjacks are, ugh, well, lumbering. They have already lost four conference games. Not close enough to that team to know what the problem is.

As for the two locals, well the Coyotes offense seems just chaotic since point guard Nate Roth went down with a knee injury a week ago in the opening minutes against the Broncos. It is point guard by committee right now. What the best option is right now depends on the night.

Then D.J. Shumpert injured a knee midway through the second half at Chico on Friday. He tried to shake it off and go back in but had to come right back out. The extent of that injury has yet to be determined. Not what the Coyotes need!

Cal Poly Pomona was ranked No. 6 going into Thursday’s game. I think that was a bit much, but likely based on reputation. The Broncos hadn’t lost yet but they really hadn’t been tested. Yes they beat San Bernardino but neither team played well in that one and both tried to give it away.

Dominguez seems a bit down too. LA. looks like it has talent but we say that every year about the Eagles and they never seem to live up to billing.

But look out for East Bay. The Pioneers have already beaten Humboldt and now Pomona. That’s a team on the rise that can play with no pressure since all eyes seem to be focused on the traditional powers.

It’s going to be survival of the fittest in this conference this year.




Former Cal State star makes splash in NBA

From the day Ivan Johnson first arrived on the campus of Cal State San Bernardino he talked about playing in the NBA, enough so that it drove Coyotes coach Jeff Oliver crazy.
Now Johnson has achieved a lifelong dream.  The 6-foot-8 forward was a factor in the Hawks’ 116-109 triple overtime loss to Miami on Thursday night, Johnson scored a season-high 13 points in 21 minutes in just his third game in the league and earned praise from TNT broadcasters Charles Barkley and Reggie Miller.

In Johnson’s only season with the Coyotes (2006-07), the San Antonio native was the team’s top scorer (15.5 ppg.) and rebounder (4.7 rpg.) and helped CSUSB to a 26-6 overall record and a school-best NCAA semifinalist finish at the Elite Eight in Springfield, Mass.  He earned first-team All-CCAA honors and was an NCAA West Regional All-Tournament member and an NABC All-West Region selection.

Since Johnson finished his collegiate career, he has played professionally in China, Puerto Rico and South Korea and has had several stints in the NBA Development league, more commonly known as the D-League.

Johnson was a D-League All-League performer for the Erie BayHawks last season. Appearing in 49 games with 42 starts, he averaged 22.6 points, 7.8 rebounds and finished third in the league in scoring.

The Hawks play at Charlotte tonight and play host to the Chicago Bulls on Saturday.

Roth not necessarily done yet

The Cal State San Bernardino men’s basketball team suffered a big blow when senior point guard Nate Roth went down with a knee injury three minutes into the Coyotes overtime loss to Cal Poly Pomona on Thursday.

Roth was on crutches a night later when the Coyotes took on San Francisco State. There was no definite word on the injury but the prevailing thought seemed to be it is probably an MCL, not the dreaded ACL which would be season ending.

Roth said he is going to try and rehab with hopes of coming back later in the season. Of course that could change if he gets a different diagnosis.

It is too bad because he was coming off a 20-point, eight assist effort against UC San Diego that earned him CCAA Player of the Week honors.

Now the Cal State offense is chaotic at times. Walk-ons Vaughn Adams and Juan Martinez did an admirable job on Friday, combining for 24 points. Johnny Bell had nine. So right now its point guard by committee.

The good news for the Coyotes is they are 5-1 with road wins at Cal State Dominguez Hills and Cal State Los Angeles, both of which are serious contenders.

The Coyotes are on the road this week at Chico State and Cal State Stanislaus, both of whom are off to good starts although they have not played particularly strong schedules. Neither is an easy place to play and the Stany game will pit Cal State coach Jeff Oliver against the man he replaced in Larry Reynolds, who now heads the Warriors.


Trevor gets one-up on his mentor

I didn’t think anyone could top Cal State San Bernardino men’s basketball coach Jeff Oliver when it came to the quote department. He is by far the most entertaining when it comes to interviews, be it pre-game, post-game doesn’t matter.

Well his best friend and former assistant Paul Trevor has surpassed him – at least for the moment. Trevor is in his second year as head coach at San Francisco State after spending eight successful seasons alongside Oliver at Cal State.

Trevor was back at Coussoulis Arena on Friday as the Gators maded their annual trek South to play the Coyotes. It has been a tough season so far as the young Gators are 2-9 overall and 0-5 in CCAA play. They’re dead last in the 12-team conference.

I spent a few minutes talking to Trev at halftime of the women’s game. which preceded the men’s.

In talking about his team’s struggles Trevor offered this gem . . .

“We’re like a team right out of the Wizard of Oz. My No. 1 could use a heart, my No. 2 could use a brain and my 1, 3 and 5 could use a little bit of courage.”

Trevor added that he is confident in his players and thinks they’ll get it together but they’re going through the growing pains that can happen when you’re competing in a top-notch conference.

The Coyotes prevailed 73-54 but the Gators played hard. Despite giving up the first 12 points of the game, they came back and were down by just five points midway though the second half.