By Michael Yu, Aug. 30, 2022

With the start of a new academic calendar for Cal Poly Pomona, Bronco Athletics sports teams also prepare to begin a new season. For men’s and women’s basketball, these preparations can range from rigorous training to, in the case of both teams, hiring new assistant coaches to assist with strategies and training.

Both teams are striving for success this season — Brendan Wheeler, the new men’s basketball assistant coach, and Ali Elmi, the new women’s basketball assistant coach, were hired due to their numerous years of coaching experience.

“Every situation, every team and every player are always different,” said Wheeler. “So, I think I’ll be able to draw from the last 17 years and really use the opportunity given to me to do great things with coach Kamansky and coach Hill, who have already laid the foundation, the groundwork.”

Before arrival at CPP, Elmi spent over four years as lead assistant, recruiting coordinator and defense coordinator at Hope International University. During his tenure, the University had its best season in history, gaining a 26-6 record and ranking second in national defense in 2021-22.

Wheeler himself spent nine years at Bishop Alemany High School as a junior varsity coach and varsity boy’s assistant coach. During his time there, the school had multiple teams reach the California Interscholastic Federation Division I Quarterfinals, CIF Division III State Champions, CIF DIII Regional Champions and the CIF DIII-A Section Champions — all firsts in school history.

Courtesy of Brendan Wheeler

With nearly 30 years of combined experience, the coaches will be able to expand on and develop new strategies for the Broncos to use on the road to success.

“I tend to be very focused on the X’s and O’s. I’m very defensive-minded, and I tend to always be strategizing, trying to figure out what will give us a little bit of an advantage over the opponents and whatnot. So, it’s a matter of using the players that we feel give us the best chance of success. It’s almost like playing chess on the court, but yeah, I’m big-time focused on the players,” Elmi shared.

In the upcoming season, the men’s team will be utilizing a motion offense, and defensively, will run a zone. In addition, the women’s team will be running a one-one-three zone defense, a style that women’s basketball head coach Danelle Bishop and Elmi are familiar with.

As the campaign approaches, the teams are getting their players prepared in addition to the new assistant coaches. Men’s basketball head coach Greg Kamansky shared that the team is currently evaluating players while also making sure that they are all mentally and physically ready for the upcoming season.

With this year marking the first full season back since COVID-19, hopes are high for the return of basketball to campus. Elmi shared what it feels like being back after the pandemic.

“It feels great. It’s been over two years of just pivoting and changes. We might still have to do some of that, but it feels good to be able to have some bit of normalcy starting off. So, hopefully, it stays that way,” Elmi said.

As the new assistant coaches get settled at CPP for the current season and devise ways to propel Bronco basketball to new heights, Wheeler reflected on his emotions going into the 2022-2023 stretch of games and how CPP compares to previous stops.

“It’s exciting. At my last job at California Baptist, I was off the court … Now in this role, it’s much more hands-on. I’m excited to be able to take a step forward in my career and learn a lot from great guys, as well as learn a lot in the challenging position.

To stay up to date on both men’s and women’s basketball teams, visit the Bronco Athletics website.

Feature Image by Brendan Wheeler.

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