Reformed Matadors host Bulldogs in exhibition game

Gilberto Manzano

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Vinnie McGhee (11) and the Matadors host Redlands in an exhibition match on Friday night at the Matadome. Photo Credit: Sundial File Photo.

Coming off their first 20-loss season since the 1995-96 campaign has made some of the Matadors look for any reason to forget about last year’s miseries.

Senior forward Lenny Daniel is using the new uniforms for the upcoming 2010-11 season as a sign for a clean slate.

“We are trying to turn a new leaf,” said Daniel, CSUN’s team leader in rebounds and blocks a year ago. “We are trying to make a change and it starts even with equipment and it’s a brand new year.”

Northridge, which finished last season 11-21, will unveil its new uniforms against Redlands in an exhibition game on Friday night at the Matadome.

Similar to Daniel’s approach the other six returning Matadors don’t want to acknowledge what happen last year and instead move forward with the new group of players.

“The bad taste from last year is out of our mouths and I’m ready to open the season,” senior point guard Dathan Lyles said. “We forgot about everything, it’s a whole new season. We have a new team, new players, new leaders and a couple of new assistant coaches on the staff.”

With the additions of nine newcomers, which eight are freshmen, CSUN will use the preseason game as an opportunity to build team chemistry on the court.

Bobby Braswell, who is entering his 15th season as head coach, said chemistry won’t be a problem compared to last year’s Matador squad.

“Chemistry is not an issue with this group,” said Braswell, who has a career record of 216-202 at CSUN. “They are being an unselfish group. They care a lot about each other.”

The Matadors already have some experience playing together after they traveled to Fresno State for weekend to face the Bulldogs in a scrimmage.

After playing their first opponent since losing to Cal State Fullerton in the first round of the Big West Tournament last March, Daniel noticed a few negatives during the scrimmage due to rustiness.

“It was a struggle for everyone, myself included,” Daniel said. “I didn’t shoot the ball to well. We were just rusty; it was our first time playing against someone since the Fullerton game. We did some good things and other things bad.”

Jordan Mitchell, a freshman forward from Serra High School, said the scrimmage benefited him because he was able to get rid of some anxiety playing against Division-I opponents.

“It helped because at first I was a little bit nervous,” Mitchell said. “Now I’m very excited to play at the Matadome and play CSUN basketball.”

Daniel has given the new players advice on how to handle the pressure of playing a home game.

“I told them to play hard and don’t get caught in the spot light trying to play in front of your friends and just play your game and everything else will take care of itself,” Daniel said.

CSUN, who had a home record of 7-6 last season; will host a Redlands team that finished last year 12-13 overall and 8-6 in the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference.

The Bulldogs from the Division-III level averaged 76.9 points per game and dished out 13.9 assists per game.

CSUN struggled at the point guard position last season, which led to them only averaging 11.3 assists per game.

Lyles wants to make the point guard position a strong point, as he will try to get him teammates involved against Redlands.

“I want to work on a lot of different areas like assists, running the team, direct the team, be a full general and set the tone defensively and offensively,” Lyles said.