New coach brings optimism for upcoming season

Brandon Henson

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(Left to right) Jasmine Erving, coach Jason Flowers and Bridgette Conejo will be key factors for the Matadors this season. Photo Credit: Paul Kingsley/ photo editor

Coming off a season where the team was victorious in a mere four games the entire year, the CSUN women’s basketball team has restarted its program with both new and old faces and looks to turn over a new leaf this season.

The media guide reveals the many changes that have surfaced around the Matador women’s basketball team, starting with the coaching staff. This season, the Matadors welcomed new head coach Jason Flowers to the team, who comes with plenty of experience.

Before being assistant coach for Long Beach State and UC Irvine, Flowers played Division-I basketball for Irvine and his alma mater UCLA.
Flowers, along with his coaching staff, expects changes on both ends of the court.

“Offensively we want to push tempo, we want to get up and down in transition while spreading the floor and making plays,” Flowers said. “The kids have worked pretty hard on improving their skill level in the first couple of weeks and so we want to put them in a situation where they have an opportunity to showcase that.”

This year the schedule proves to be just as tough as last year, starting against Pepperdine in the first of 14 home games before traveling to Hawai’i to participate in the Jack in the Box Rainbow Wahine Classic Tournament. The Matadors will also host a tournament Thanksgiving weekend, competing against Wyoming, Tennessee-Chattanooga and Wichita State.

The Matadors, who won only two conference games last season and finished ninth in the Big West Conference, would like to see a turnaround. Flowers thinks the season opener will provide a tough challenge for the team.

“I think it will be a great test. Obviously Pepperdine is favored to finish the top of their conference, so that is always good to start off with a good test and then going over to Hawai’i, it will be a challenge in many different ways,” Flowers said. “I think every game on the schedule challenges us in a different way and obviously those games give us a good challenge at the beginning of the season.”

Players to watch
Bridgette Conejo: Last season she was among the top players on the team, averaging 10 points, 4.6 rebounds and 1.7 assists per game. She made a career-high 32 three-pointers and finished the season with 48 assists. Look for the leader and playmaker to help blend the developing team together.

Jasmine Erving: The 6-foot-2-inch threat under the net won All-Big West Second Team honors while averaging 13.6 points and grabbing 5.5 rebounds per game. Defensively, the junior will make stops and create scoring opportunities off of turnovers.

Analee Viena-Lota: The experienced senior enters her final season as a Matador and will look to top her career high 7.9 points and 5.4 rebounds she recorded last season.

Key additions

Haley White: The recently signed freshman helped lead Colony High School to back-to-back CIF-Southern Section IIA championships and will be a major component in the backcourt for the Matadors.

Key to success
It will ultimately come down to whether the team can be consistent and put wins on the board. Last year the team did not have a single winning streak, and the four wins the team did manage were spread throughout the season.

“Definitely the goal is to win more, and I am really optimistic and think we are going to win a lot more games. Every single game you go out to, the goal is to win, but if we do lose I think we are going to lose a lot differently this year,” Conejo said. “I think we are going to be more competitive, we are going to be in shape and run teams out of our gym.”

Big West Tournament aspirations are definitely in the players’ minds.

“We want to go to the Big West, that is the ultimate goal; we want to get to the tournament,” Conejo said. “We want to do well, we want to win more than four games and do a lot better in general. That’s the biggest thing.”