The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

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Northridge seeks redemption in future games

Matador Rashaun McLemore will face Virginia Tech from his home state in the 76 classic at the Convention Center Thanksgiving day. Photo Credit: Monique Muñiz / Assistant Sports Editor

A few Matadors have circled certain games on their 2010-11 calendars as they prepare to take on challenging, but memorable, games this season.

The first obstacle on the road for Northridge will be Friday at UCLA. For many of these players, it will be the first time playing at the historic Pauley Pavilion, but the Matadors know what they need to do when they get onto the court.

“Going into the gym with the history and coach (John) Wooden and all the championships, it’s kind of intimidating, but once you get there you have to play ball,” senior forward Lenny Daniel said. “We expect to go in there and give them good competition in the game, expect to come out and win. So hopefully that’s the plan.”

The only time the Matadors beat UCLA was in 2000-01 season, the same year they went to the NCAA Tournament. Coach Bobby Braswell said they see it as an opportunity, not an obstacle.

“It’s exciting, I know they are very excited. A lot of them have grown up hearing about Pauley Pavilion and Wooden and now to have that opportunity to actually go play there, I know it’s exciting for some of them,” Braswell said.  “If we get our guys focused and ready to play, we are extremely young and we have a very difficult schedule to start our year off.”

After playing UCLA, the Matadors head up north to Berkeley to face the Golden Bears, who won the Pac-10 championship last season. For Matador Vinnie McGhee, it will be a welcome home that he isn’t going to take lightly.

“My uncle went to Cal and he wanted me to go there too, but they didn’t look at me,” McGhee said. “I look at that game as a vengeance game. I want to beat them bad.”  

For two Matadors, the 76 Classic, coming on the weekend of Thanksgiving, will be a homecoming of sorts. CSUN will face Virginia Tech, a school located in Daniel and Rashaun McLemore’s home state.

“It feels good. They missed out on me and that game is a little more personal because I’m from Virginia, so that’s a game I circled on the schedule. But like any other game, we are going to come out trying to get the win,” Daniel said.

The Hokies will be a challenging match up as the team returns multiple top scorers.

For Braswell, a face-off with an old boss awaits against the Hokies’ head coach.

“I worked for Seth Greenberg a few years at Long Beach State and it will be an opportunity to play against someone that is a mentor to me,” Braswell said.

With these three games and a few more tough schools on the schedule, CSUN looks to build off of them and get ready for Big West Conference play.

“I think it’s going to prepare us a lot because last year we went through a tough schedule too,” Daniel said. “We just didn’t get that chemistry down as far as the Big West season went, but I think this year with the guys we have it’s just got to get better and get them accustomed to playing at this level.  I think we will be alright this year and surprise a lot of people.”

The Matadors went 6-10 in the Big West last season, finishing eighth place. The rough schedule can do one of two things to the team before conference play, Braswell said.

“We are hoping it’s going to prepare our guys because they are going into these big arenas and they’re playing against these big teams and high Division-I teams that are going to prepare us for our league schedule,” Braswell said. “The opposite effect can be that it could have a sociological effect on us if we are not able to compete well, but I believe our guys are going in there and compete and that’s all I ask them to do.”

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