By Melissa Maddux
The CSU Bakersfield men’s basketball team is set to play against second-seeded Oklahoma in the first round of the NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Tournament on Friday, March 18.
With much excitement, support and anticipation from the fans, CSUB hosted an open practice to the public on Tuesday afternoon before the team headed out of town.
The players interacted with fans on and off the court to take photographs, give autographs and conduct interviews with the local news media.
Teacher’s aide Dianne Ochoa, 49, said that she felt that the win against New Mexico State in the WAC tournament was special.
“It was pretty special for the team, the school and for Bakersfield,” Ochoa said.
Ochoa said that she watched the WAC Tournament each year and this year’s win was awesome. She plans to watch this Friday’s game at home.
Retiree Gloria Barraza, 69, reminisces to when her son-in-law, Beau Redstone, played for the Roadrunners in the late 1980s to early 1990s.
Barraza said the Roadrunners basketball did very well back then and the house would always be packed.
Her reaction when seeing the recent win was that she “screamed so loudly.”
Unfortunately, she will not be able to watch Friday’s game, but she plans to listen to it on the radio while she travels to the coast.
One of the things that she wants to add about the Runners is that she thinks this year’s team is special and brought a lot of joy to Bakersfield.
Digital marketer and professional speaker Arleana Waller, 45, happens to be excited for the school, the city, the players and CSUB head coach Rod Barnes.
Waller said her reaction to the WAC tournament game is that she was screaming, laughing and taping the TV as if she was there.
Her plan to watch the game on Friday is not yet decided because she is attending a leadership class. If she is able to view the game, she will possibly watch it with friends at Firestone.
Waller is currently on the executive board for the Roadrunners Scholarship Fund.
“This is what we raise money for… to pick players to bring this opportunity to our school,” Waller said.
Students were also at the event, but those that were not in attendance were studying for the upcoming finals in various locations. Not all students are aware of the sporting events on campus because of their busy schedule or many other factors.
Business major Herman Palmerin, 21, said he does not follow basketball, but he happened to see the win on the news.
Palmerin said he might not be able to view Friday’s game because of his work schedule. Other students, even though their schedule is busy have decided to join in on the excitement that is leading up to the game in Oklahoma City.
Biochemistry major Heather McDonald, 22, said she felt that it is awesome that they won the WAC.
“It’s a great team this year,” McDonald said.
McDonald’s reaction when CSUB junior guard Dedrick Basile made that final shot was that it was exciting and she cheered.
“I plan to watch the game at my apartment and I have a final at that time,” she said. “I’m going to record it.”
Computer information systems major Andrew Hernandez, 21, said that this is his first quarter at CSUB and he hasn’t been able to attend any of the games.
Hernandez said he hopes they win because it is the first time in school history.
He said to the team to go as far as they can go.
Hernandez’s said when he found out CSUB won the WAC Tournament he was excited.
“I am from Bakersfield and I’m rooting for my hometown,” said Hernandez.