The awaited day is here. Kind of.
The men’s basketball team will have its first game of a 2008-09 season full of expectations tonight at 7 p.m. at the Matadome. The rival will be La Verne. Don’t get too excited though, it’s just an exhibition game.
Then again, it’s hard not to get a little stirred up. After all, the Matadors have been selected by multiple magazines to finish No. 1 in the Big West Conference and make a trip to the NCAA Tournament this season. Even coaches and media think they’ll repeat as champions.
Hold the phone, though, says Head Coach Bobby Braswell. Not to want to burst anyone’s bubble, but the Matadors have to play the games first.
‘I think in order for us to entertain thoughts of a championship, we need to do all the things we did last year such as defend with intensity and rebound the basketball,’ Braswell said. ‘That’s what I am trying to impress on the players in practice. These are some of the things that are important in order for us to be successful this year.’
Tonight will be the first chance for Braswell and everyone to see how conceivable the thoughts of a championship are. The Matadors were considered a nobody last year going into the season and were picked to finish sixth in the conference, but they had a surprising run and won a share of the Big West title. They, however, had a disappointing outing in the ensuing tournament and were eliminated in the semifinals by Cal State Fullerton, two wins shy of the dance.
From the Titans to La Verne, some things have changed. The Matadors lost four seniors. They have had a roster makeover, but still count with their core of point guard Josh Jenkins, shooting guard Deon Tresvant and forward Tremaine Townsend.
They also still count with the reigning Big West Coach of the Year: Braswell. It all starts tonight. Kind of.