Matadors Set To Open Exhibition Season Wednesday vs. Cal State Los Angeles


Matadors Set To Open Exhibition Season Wednesday vs. Cal State Los Angeles

NORTHRIDGE, Calif. - Get ready!!! ... It's time for Cal State Northridge men's basketball.

The Matadors of 2007-08 will be unveiled on Wednesday night, October 31, when CSUN hosts Cal State Los Angeles in an exhibition game at The Matadome. Tipoff is slated for 7:05 p.m.

The game will be broadcast live via the internet at www.GoMatadors.com. Veteran broadcasters Bill Courtland and Alan Zinsmeister will provide the expert commentary.

With 12 new players on the 18-man roster, and the return of five key veterans, including three quality starters, excitement is building during this, the 50th season of intercollegiate basketball at Cal State Northridge.

"On paper, I am extremely pleased with the recruiting efforts and the players we have brought in," said Braswell, who is entering his 12th season at the helm of Matador basketball. "We have good depth at every position. We have recruited several players who can fill some of our immediate needs."

Last year, the Matadors didn't shoot the ball with any consistency, defensive pressure was a season long concern, and turnovers were major concerns for the coaching staff. Braswell is confident he now has the tools in place at every position to be a good team as Cal State Northridge prepares for its 50th season of intercollegiate basketball.

"We now have more viable threats on the offensive side of the ball," said Braswell. "We're much more athletic which should help improve us defensively. We feel we have improved ourselves. Obviously, you know never know until you start playing games to see how good you are, but I think we have a chance to be a good basketball team if everybody buys in. When you have 12 new players learning a new system, we'll need to simplify some of our sets at the beginning of the season. I feel like we should be better defensively than last year, and better offensively. I feel this group gives us a chance to improve in a lot of areas, and gives us a legitimate shot to compete for a championship."

Every season, Cal State Northridge schedules highly competitive teams and this year is no exception. The non-league slate will include games at national powers Gonzaga (Dec. 8, 5:00 p.m.) and a Dec. 22 encounter at Pac-10 power Washington (3:00 p.m.). The Matadors will kickoff the Big West season with two teams expected to be contenders for the league title, at Cal Poly (Jan. 3, 7:00 p.m.) and at UC Santa Barbara (Jan. 5, 7:00 p.m.). Cal State Northridge has scheduled 13 home regular season games, including an ESPN Bracketbuster contest on Feb. 23 (7:00 p.m.).

"We're excited to have the opportunity to play national powers Gonzaga and Washington," said Braswell. "Our hope is to go there and not only be highly competitive, but do something special. I think the Big West race is wide open. There are several teams that have an excellent chance to win the conference title. UC Santa Barbara has many excellent players returning so you have to think they will be very good and highly competitive. Cal Poly will be strong, and Cal State Fullerton returns a strong core of returning players."

Matador Memo
*** This will be the 50th season of men's basketball at Cal State Northridge, and 18th as a Division I program.

*** Senior Jonathan Heard led the team in scoring last year with 13.5 points per game in earning All-Big West Honorable Mention honors. Heard is also the team's top returning rebounder (5.5 rpg). He has consistently been one of the main offensive options throughout his career, surpassing the 1,000 point career scoring mark late last season. The 6-foot-6 forward/guard enters the 2007-08 campaign with 1,020 points.

*** The combination of Heard and 6-foot-8 senior forward Calvin Chitwood gives the Matadors one of the top scoring duos in the Big West. Chitwood averaged 13.2 points to rank 12th in the league in scoring, while Heard was a notch higher at eleventh. Chitwood also topped the conference in free throw percentage, hitting at an .851 (80-fo-94) clip. He was fourth on the league leader board in field goal percentage (.514) and shot better than 50 percent for the third consecutive season.

*** Junior Rob Haynes established himself as one of the league's top perimeter players last year with a sixth-best .426 (46-of-108) three-point field goal percentage. His 46 three-pointers accounted for more than half of his total field goal makes (87). Haynes enters the season ninth in the Big West record book with a career three-point field goal percentage of .425 (68-od-160).

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