Sporting News picks Matadors

Alonso Tacanga

Another magazine, another No. 1.

The annual Sporting News’ college basketball magazine joined three of its peers in selecting the Matadors as their choice this season to win the Big West Conference championship and make their long-awaited return to the NCAA Tournament.

Northridge, who was also a choice of Blue Ribbon College Yearbook and magazines Lindy’s and Athlon Sports, was picked to finish first in the conference followed by UC Santa Barbara, Pacific and Cal State Fullerton. The four-for-four compliment has players happy. They called it ‘very nice.’

‘We’re going to live up to (the expectations),’ said guard Deon Tresvant, who also was named to the Sporting News All-Big West team.

Tresvant led the Matadors in scoring last season at 13.9 ppg. He along with breakout point guard Josh Jenkins and big man Tremaine Townsend are the returning core that have made CSUN favorites for 2008-09. Jenkins led the conference in assists, averaging 6.4 per game last season. Townsend did the same, but in the rebound category. The six-foot-nine forward averaged almost 10 boards per game while leading the Big West in double-doubles (10).

UC Davis, Long Beach State, UC Irvine and Cal Poly rounded off the rest of the magazine’s selections in the Big West.

‘Cal State Northridge has gone from a team with numerous questions a year ago to one that has most of the answers entering this season,’ said Jeff Goodman, author of the article previewing the Big West. ‘… Northridge went into last season with minimal expectations, but wound up with 20 victories and a dozen league wins–largely due to the rapid development of a trio of junior college players. Guards Josh Jenkins and Deon Tresvant and skilled big man Tremaine Townsend, all in their first year with the program, combined to average more than 35 points per game a year ago, and the entire group returns.’

To top that off, CSUN added have six new faces to its 2008-09 roster: 7-foot center Xavier Crawford, last year’s Big Sky Conference Freshman of the Year Vinnie McGhee, 6-foot-4 shooting guard Kenny Daniels, guards Vincent Cordell and Mark Hill and walk-on freshman Dallas Rutherford.

The bar has been set. Practices start tomorrow for the pre-season favorites.