The Cal State Northridge men’s basketball team (4-5) is coming off a 0-2 road trip where it played from behind thoroughly. The Matadors trailed for all but five minutes against Washington on Dec. 6 and were led from wire-to-wire at Denver two days later.
It was the continuation of a trait CSUN’s been showing all season: starting slow. Thankfully for the Matadors and their head coach, Bobby Braswell, Northridge has also shown it can mount comebacks.
“It’s not a bad thing (playing from behind),” said Braswell, whose team faces Drexel (5-5) tonight at the Matadome. “I told the guys that one thing we’ve shown is that we do have the ability to come back and make games competitive, but we got to play solid earlier.”
The Matadors, who have trailed by double digits in seven of their nine games this season, got behind by 10, 10, and 14 against Coastal Carolina (Nov. 24), CSU Bakersfield (Nov. 30) and Idaho (Dec. 3), respectively before running by them with second-half surges. Those were three out of their four total wins, and they came the hard way.
Braswell wants his team to make things easier on itself, and it all starts with the one thing the coach preaches more than anything: defense.
“We spent the last two days of practice working exclusively on defense … getting better defensively,” Braswell said after Tuesday’s practice. “Because we just feel we got to keep improving in that area.”
Senior Willie Galick understands that his team isn’t going to win many games on the road if they play terribly, especially if they are trying to adjust to referees they never seen before.
“We’ve played seven out of nine games on the road, and it does take a toll,” said Galick, who is averaging 11 points. “Then you go into somebody else’s house… and you’re playing with their refs. That is always a tough thing ’cause you don’t know that ref’s style.”
The Matadors’ experience on the road will benefit them when they play on their home court.
“As much as we like to complain about road games, they make you tougher, and it makes you appreciate your own rims (at home),” Galick said.
In only their third home game of the season, the Matadors get a chance to avenge their 55-47 defeat against Drexel last season in Philadelphia, Pa.
“We got to get payback from last year. We went down there, they beat us at the end,” senior Vincent Cordell said. “It should be a good game.”
Drexel Notes: The Dragons are led in scoring by the junior Jamie Harris, who is averaging 14.2 points. Sophomore Samme Givens records a team-high 7.5 rebounds per game.
Matador Notes: Since exploding for 39 points against Idaho senior Kenny Daniels has only scored 12 points in two games… Already having played a Big Ten and a Pac-10 team, CSUN will go on the road after the Drexel game to face Big 12 team Colorado.