Men’s basketball looks to restore winning tradition in 2023-24 season

By Jonathan Shone, Nov. 7, 2023

Cal Poly Pomona’s men’s basketball team is aiming to put last year’s struggles in the rearview and revive the success of the program ahead of the 2023-24 season, which begins with a preseason matchup against Seattle Pacific University Friday, Nov. 10.

The Broncos’ 2022 campaign started strong with hard-fought wins in six of their first seven games. But the Broncos’ performance slumped soon after, slipping under .500 toward the end of the season to finish with a 12-14 overall record.

This went down as the Broncos’ first losing season since 2016, and only the third since head coach Greg Kamansky’s tenure began in 2000.

Kamansky, who is returning for his 23rd consecutive season, was optimistic the grind his squad underwent during the offseason will be showcased in the 2023-24 season.

“Hopefully our guys that are coming back are a little more experienced, a little tougher, a little stronger, a little better,” Kamansky said. “If everyone’s done that, done their part, we’ll be that much better.”

He emphasized his players had difficulty adjusting to a newly implemented defensive system last year and asserted his team’s ability to master it will be highly instrumental to the success they achieve this year.

“Our defense is pretty complicated and integrating our defense, which has been a staple of our program for 20-something years, I expect a huge improvement on that,” Kamansky said.

A key component to the Broncos upgrading their defense is junior forward Caleb Nelson, who registered team-high marks for blocks and defensive rebounds last season. Nelson seeks to maintain his outstanding play going forward and credits Kamansky’s commitment to defense as the driving force in his development as a player.

“I definitely want to be on the same track as last year as far as blocks, rebounds, and I think a big part of that starts with our practices,” Nelson said. “Our coach has a big emphasis on defense at practices, and so I think that’s what’s allowed me to take a big jump from my freshman year to my sophomore year.”

CPP’s men’s basketball roster is looking to bounce back after a lackluster 2022-23 season. | Courtesy of CPP Athletics

Nelson also revealed he is particularly focused on using his newfound veteran presence to uplift his squad.

“I want to be able to lead by example and motivate my team and show them what needs to be better in certain situations, such as the close games,” Nelson said.

Sophomore guard Shyheim Parm is another player who enjoyed a stellar individual season for the Broncos last year, leading the squad in assists, steals, free throws made and total points scored. He is embracing a direct leadership role this season as well, describing himself as “another coach but on the court.”

On top of reiterating defensive improvement, Parm emphasized the significance of cohesive playmaking. He believes the current team will capitalize on this, considering the elevated size and athleticism within the roster.

“Especially with the newer guys coming in, we’re definitely more athletic this year,” Parm said. “So I feel like if we’re able to space the floor out and run more, it’ll definitely give us the opportunity to win more games this year.”

Among the 15 players listed on this year’s roster, nine bring continuity as returning players, while the remaining six comprise the fresh talent.

Kamansky also expects notable returners, such as guard Jaden Winfield, forward Derrick Claxton and guard Bam Johnson, to make a prominent impact in their designated roles.

The Broncos’ 2023 campaign begins with a preseason away game against Seattle Pacific University scheduled for Saturday, Nov. 18.

As the season opener looms closer, Kamansky asserted his team learned valuable lessons from last year’s challenges and is ready to return to playoff contention once more.

“Last year was definitely a hiccup, but it’s time to put up and shut up right now for a lot of these guys,” Kamansky said.

Feature image courtesy of CPP Athletics

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