Cal State, Cal Poly men on the way back up

There has been a void in the NCAA Division II men’s basketball playoffs the last two years. Traditional contenders Cal State San Bernardino and Cal Poly Pomona both missed making the 64-team field – a huge disappointment for two programs with proud pasts.

Look for the downward trend to change. Both are fielding teams who should contend not just in the tough CCAA, but the West Region as well. The Broncos (8-0, 4-0) sit first at the moment, just a shade of you now who – Cal State San Bernardino (5-1, 3-0).

The No. 6 Broncos have maybe the most complete all-around player in the conference in senior Mitchel Anderson. He’s not flashy, so he probably doesn’t get quite the attention he deserves. But every game he’ll be there with his 18 points, 7 to 10 rebounds, a handful of steals, handful of assists.

A strong supporting cast surrounds him – DeRonn Scott, Terrence Drisdom, Shannon Sharpe, Mohamed Fall.

Then there are Jeff Oliver’s Coyotes.Start with monster dunker Kwame Alexander. Then there’s super slick point guard Brian Goins and a bevy 3-point threats in Lacy Haddock, Jamari Simmons, Johnny Bell. There are no shortage of offensive threats.

The Coyotes haven’t necessarily played well the last three games, but they made clutch plays down the stretch and seem to have a chemistry and mental toughness that has been lacking in recent years.

Both teams are worth the price of admission. When they play each other Jan. 5 at Kellogg Gymnasium it will be a showdown between local rivals that had lacked some intensity in recent years. The winner will emerge as the team to beat in the CCAA.