Men’s basketball returns to action

After getting knocked out by UC San Diego in the 2018-19 NCAA Division II West Region Championship Tournament, men’s basketball is back to work, hungrier than ever, as it prepares for a new season.

“All I want my team to do is play hard, play together and play smart basketball. And whatever talent we have at that point will dictate what happens at that point,” head coach Greg Kamansky said. “I think the last two years, we maximized pretty good talent. We were gritty and tough and we were able to win (the) league two years in a row.”

The men’s basketball team is predicted to finish second in the 2019-20 CCAA Preseason Poll. (Pictured senior guard William Christmas (left) and junior guard BJ Standley (right).
Hector Amezquita | The Poly Post

The Broncos finished the 2018-19 campaign with a 21-7 overall record and 17-5 in the California Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA) conference. According to the 2019-20 CCAA Men’s Basketball Preseason Poll, Cal Poly Pomona is predicted to finish second in the conference standings, right behind UC San Diego, who were co-champions with CPP last year.

Senior guard Nikhil Peters was sidelined at the beginning of the summer due to ankle surgery. But as the new season approaches, the guard is looking to get back to his old self to help the team win.

“I was in a lot of rehab over the summer, just getting into playing shape. And (I have) been trying to prepare myself to play next week,” Peters said. “I’m just looking forward to winning as many games as we can. I haven’t been one to get as many accolades, but not everyone says they’ve won a conference title. So as long as we are winning games, that stuff will come. So I’m not worried too much about personal goals as I am about how the team does.”

Standout players like senior guard William Christmas, senior guard/forward Riley Schaefer and junior guard Phoenix Shackelford are all returning for the Broncos with the mission of exceeding last season’s success. After the 2018-19 season, Christmas, Schaefer and Shackelford were all recognized with honors by the league.

“I gear more towards what I can do to help the team win. I know that, as far as how I play, I can make an impact that way. And I’ve been blessed to be a pretty good player over the three years that I have been here, so that my main focus is really on what I can, as a player, (do) to make us a better team,” Christmas said.

In addition to the returnees, the Broncos added a pair of transfers from Saint Martin’s University: junior guard Bryant Standley and junior guard/forward Tavian Henderson.

“I’m hoping they have an impact; that’s why we recruited them. BJ and Tavian both were impacts from the programs they came from. They’re good players, so they need to have a good impact on the team. Otherwise, we are not going to be very good,” Kamansky said.

The team also added a few freshmen to the roster, including forward Demetrius Williams, guard William Chavarin, forward Sione Lauese Jr., guard Chris Gayles Jr. and guard Chris Koon.

Despite losing players during the offseason, Kamansky believes that the additions will play a key role in trying to maintain the same playing style as last year’s team.

“I hope we still have the same grit as last year’s team had, which I think we are still searching for at this point. But I like the versatility that this team has. I think we have guys this year … (who) are able to do more things, like BJ and Tavian are great passers,” Kamansky said.

One area the Broncos will continue pursuing is being more dominant than their opponents on the defensive side.

“If we play good defense, no matter how bad we are on the other end of the court, we can look silly out there shooting air balls. We are always going to be in the game and give ourselves a chance the last five minutes of the game no matter what. So, we will go into the season with that mentality,” Kamansky said.

The Broncos will kick off the 2019-20 season Friday, Nov. 8 when they travel to Seattle to face Azusa Pacific University in the Sodexo Classic hosted by Seattle Pacific University.

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