Matador NCAA Tournament notebook 3

Alonso Tacanga

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Homecoming Daniels

CSUN guard Kenny Daniels is not only going to the NCAA Tournament. He’s also going home. Sort of.

Daniels’ St. Louis hometown is just 250 miles easy from Kansas City, Mo., location of the Matadors’ NCAA Tournament’s first round match-up.

‘My whole family is (in St. Louis); my mom, dad, sisters, brother, my son, cousins ‘hellip;’Daniels said.

There will be plenty of space for Daniels’ family and for the St. Louis Rams and Cardinals ‘- two of the junior’s favorite teams ‘- to watch the Matadors take on Memphis. The brand new Sprint Center has a capacity of 18,500. The only problem might be transportation.

‘We’re actually working on that right now,’ Daniels said.

Once that detail is taken care of, expect to see a pumped up Daniels take on the court Thursday.

‘I feel real good. I’m going to have a lot of support,’ Daniels said. ‘Words can’t describe how I’ll feel playing at home.’

Galick unfazed by big names

Pepperdine, CSUN forward Willie Galick’s former school, isn’t known for its powerful men’s basketball team. However, when it comes to the Waves facing powerful men’s basketball competition, the story changes. It’s for that reason that the Galick seems particularly fearless as he prepares to face No. 3 Memphis in the NCAA Tournament’s first round.

‘I’ve played against great teams,’ said Galick, whose time with Pepperdine lasted from 2005-07. ‘I’ve played against UConn twice in my life already ‘hellip;’

The UConn of then wasn’t quite the UConn of now, which is the top seed of the NCAA Tournament’s West region (the same one the Matadors are in). Still, those Huskies gave Galick’s Waves fits, beating them by an average of 21 points.

Other high-profile teams the junior faced in his time at Pepperdine include Wisconsin, UNLV, conference-sharing Gonzaga and Tournament defending champion Kansas.

And the Matadors.

Galick’s lack of fear does not mean lack of respect.

‘Anyone that’s saying they’re overrated ‘hellip; if I were Memphis I wouldn’t take that to heart. They know they’re a great team and we know they’re a great team,’ Galick said. ‘

Haynes finds the words

Following Saturday night’s Big West Conference Tournament championship win, four-year Matador Rob Haynes was too excited to say much in front of a media-filled room waiting on his take of the ongoing ride that’s become his final season.

‘I’m speechless,’ he said then.

Monday afternoon, Haynes found the words.

‘It’s what everybody says. Hard work pays off,’ said the guard who went through three winless postseasons before getting his playoff break in the most unlikely of years.

Haynes’ first two seasons at Northridge saw the Matadors compile a 29-30 record. Last year, the Matadors won a share of the Big West regular-season championship, but lost to Cal State Fullerton in the conference tournament semifinals.

In 2008-09, after losing two of his teammates ‘- both seniors ‘- Haynes finally reached the NCAA Tournament. His reward? He gets to go up against the No. 3 team in the nation: Memphis.

‘It’s going to be tough, but that’s why we have to play the game,’ Haynes said. ‘The odds are against us, but that’s the way it’s been the whole season.’

Rawr, the Tigers again

There couldn’t have been a sweetest rival to defeat in the conference championship game for the Matadors than Pacific. The Tigers have been a thorn on Northridge’s side throughout their history. Pacific leads the all-time series 17-5. A few of those games have been heartbreakers, always for the Matadors.

Besides 13-year Head Coach Bobby Braswell, perhaps no one knows Tiger pain like Rob Haynes, who’s been at CSUN for four years.

‘It’s how it’s been since I’ve been here,’ Haynes said after CSUN lost to Pacific for a 17th time on March 7. ‘It always seems like we’re almost there.’

The Matadors went on to win the championship against the same rival a week later and qualified for the NCAA Tournament. Who did they draw as a first round opponent?

The Tigers ‘hellip; of Memphis.

‘That is cool,’ said Haynes, who ‘- following his latest match against Pacific ‘- will now be able to smile when thinking of the Big West’s Tigers. ‘It’s a total different Tigers now. It’s a weird coincidence.’

Besides Pacific and Memphis, there are over 20 other universities with the same nickname. Two more are in the Tournament: Clemson and LSU.