What went wrong with the men’s basketball team?

By Erik Carr

More than four weeks after the Cal Poly Pomona men’s basketball
team’s quest to repeat as NCAA Div. II national champions ended in
a 63-49 loss to Cal State Dominguez Hills on March 4, many in the
Bronco community are asking this question: What happened?

To be fair, winning back-to-back championships rarely occurs in
men’s basketball. It’s happened before but doesn’t happen
often.

But to win the championship one year and miss the NCAA
Tournament entirely the following year is even more rare.

One factor became obvious even before the first game of the
season was played which was the presence of four seniors.

This was a problem because it made it difficult to name team
captains for the Broncos.

In the 2009-10 season, there were only two seniors, guards
Austin Swift and Dahir Nasser, and it was highly productive. Nasser
was the set-up man while Swift was the star scorer.

If we could redo the 2010-11 season, I would have chosen senior
forwards Tobias Jahn and Donnelle Booker. Senior forward Kevin
Menner and senior guard Mark Rutledge were both productive players
but became Broncos after their first year of eligibility.

Jahn and Booker, on the other hand, were Broncos from beginning
to end and should have been groomed into their team captain roles
prior to the start of this season.

While on the subject of the seniors, the 2010-11 season seniors
were all talented players and the numbers point to that fact.
However, none of them, specifically the returning players, took the
initiative to be the team’s leader.

In the end, it was not until Jahn’s injury that junior forward
Dwayne Fells, sophomore guard Mitchel Anderson and senior forward
Kevin Menner finally stepped into the limelight of the leader
sooner than expected.

Staying on the subject of injuries, after back-to-back losses to
Cal State Dominguez Hills and Cal State Los Angeles on Dec. 3 and
4, respectively, and a decisive 82-60 loss to Sonoma State, it was
clear that injuries had a bigger impact on the team than initially
expected.

Jahn’s absence occurred during a stretch in which the Broncos
lost four-of-six games, freshman guard Terrence Drisdom’s injury
left him sitting on the bench of the Dec. 3 and 4 losses and
Booker, though he started every game in the season, played with a
torn meniscus throughout the season.

Here are my early predictions for next season:

The Broncos will have a better record at the end of its 2011-12
season and will return to the NCAA Tournament.

Redshirt freshman forward Andrew Steel will be playing his first
year of eligibility and will give the Broncos some much-needed
height.

Redshirt sophomore forward DeRonn Scott will also play next
season, giving the Broncos a player equal in height to departing
Booker and Menner.

With Fells and junior guard Matt Rosser as the returning
seniors, they will return the Broncos to a two-leader dynamic,
reminiscent of the Swift and Nasser one that led the Broncos to
their first championship title.

Believe me when I say that Bronco fans will have a lot to
celebrate next season.

Women of Winter

Erik Carr, Sports Editor / The Poly Post

Women of Winter

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