Roadrunners to utilize speed this year

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Roadrunners to utilize speed this year

Sophomore guard Jarker Joiner goes past a Chicago State defender to attack the rim in a game last season at the Icardo Center.
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Sophomore guard Jarker Joiner goes past a Chicago State defender to attack the rim in a game last season at the Icardo Center. Runner Archives

Sophomore guard Jarker Joiner goes past a Chicago State defender to attack the rim in a game last season at the Icardo Center. Runner Archives

Sophomore guard Jarker Joiner goes past a Chicago State defender to attack the rim in a game last season at the Icardo Center. Runner Archives

Peter Castillo

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After posting a combined 49-19 record over the previous two seasons, which included the school’s first-ever appearance in the NCAA tournament, the CSU Bakersfield men’s basketball team struggled to a 12-18 finish last season.

CSUB was forced to deal with a rash of injuries, inconsistent shooting and a young and inexperienced roster last year.

However, head coach Rod Barnes is hopeful the experience his young players gained from last season will propel them forward in the Western Athletic Conference this year.

“I like our team. I like the makeup of this team. I like the chemistry of this team,” said Barnes. “I’m excited about this season and what our guys can build.”

CSUB was picked to finish fifth in the WAC in both the preseason coaches and media polls.

The team  graduated three other players from last season, including Brent Wrapp, who will serve as a graduate assistant coach this season. Wrapp finished tied for the most career assists in CSUB history. The team also lost Fallou N’Doye as a graduate transfer.

The Roadrunners will also be without a true center this season, but according to Barnes, the team will attempt to play at a faster pace this season to offset their lack of size.

“We feel like we make up for our size with our athleticism,” said Barnes. “We do have speed and we feel really good about that. We just have to take advantage of what our strengths are.”

Key returners for the Roadrunners include redshirt-senior guard Damiyne Durham, senior guard Rickey Holden, redshirt-sophomore forward Justin Edler-Davis and sophomore guard Jarkel Joiner.

Durham struggled shooting the ball early on last season and was suspended for two games in January by Barnes for disciplinary reasons.

Once Durham returned from suspension, he caught fire. He averaged 15.1 points per game after his suspension, including a 29-point effort in the quarterfinals loss against Utah Valley University in the WAC tournament.

Holden was forced into the starting lineup right out of the gate last season due to an injury to Brent Wrapp.

However, despite a steep learning curve adjusting to the Division I game, Holden held his own and finished second on the team in both points per game (10.7) and assists per game (2.8).

“I worked on my shot, knowing where I’m supposed to be on the floor and to get people the ball,” said Holden on what he aimed to improve over the summer. “But most of all, I’m trying to be leader and to lead this team to a lot of victories this year.”

After sitting out the 2016-17 season as a redshirt, Edler-Davis showed what he was capable of last year with a strong freshman campaign. He finished with averages of 9.4 points per game and seven rebounds per game in WAC play. He also added a pair of double-doubles.

Joiner set a CSUB record for free throw shooting percentage in his freshman season.

Redshirt-senior guard Damiyne Durham drives along the sideline against a Fresno State defender at the Save Mart Center during a game last season.
Peter Castillo/ The Runner

The Mississippi native shot 89.6 percent from the stripe. He also averaged 10.4 points per game and 3.4 rebounds per game last year.

“I wanted to improve more of my ball-handling and be more consistent on my threes,” said Joiner about his summer routine. “I just wanted to learn how to break down the game and take the game slower.”

New additions to this year’s roster include a pair of transfers in Darrius Williams and Kevin McNeal.

Williams, a native of Newark, New Jersey, came to CSUB by way of Paris Junior College in Texas. He stands at 6 feet 9 inches tall and features an impressive wingspan which will allow him to guard multiple positions on the floor.

“He’s long, he’s athletic and he has a high IQ,” said Barnes about Williams. “He’s getting stronger too and he’s very versatile and think people will get a chance to see that.”

A transfer from San Bernardino Valley College in Southern California, McNeal averaged 14.1 points per game last season. Barnes also praised him for his defense and versatility.

“[McNeal], I think has a chance to be one of our best defensive players,” said Barnes. “He also has a knack for scoring and obviously, we need that.”

CSUB will also welcome the return of redshirt-sophomore guard Taze Moore after he sat out last season recovering from a knee injury he suffered in February 2017.

The Roadrunners’ non conference road schedule features games against some schools who could potentially be ranked in the top-25 in the nation, with games road games scheduled against Texas Christian University, the University of Southern California and Gonzaga University.

“I think our schedule is leaning toward the tougher side before we get to conference play,” said Barnes. “We going to play against three of the best teams in the country.”

In addition to facing other Division I mid-major programs such as Cal Poly and the University of Lamar, CSUB will also take on some non-DI schools such as the University of Antelope Valley, UC Santa Cruz and UC Merced as part of its non conference schedule.

The team will also travel to the Bahamas for the inaugural Junkanoo Jam beginning on Thursday, Nov. 15 against the University of Central Michigan. The Roadrunners will play three games in the weekend tournament.

WAC play will begin for CSUB on Thursday, Jan. 3 at the Icardo Center against Seattle University at 7 p.m.

Homecoming and Senior Night are scheduled for a game against the WAC’s newest member California Baptist University on Saturday, Feb. 23 at 7 p.m.

The regular season will conclude on Saturday, March 9 on the road against Utah Valley University.

The WAC tournament will begin on Thursday, March 14 at the Orleans Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.

The Roadrunners will hit the floor when they take on Long Beach State for an exhibition game on Saturday, Oct. 27. The game will benefit the relief efforts of fires throughout the state.

CSUB opens the regular season on the road against No. 20 TCU on Wednesday, Nov. 7 at 6 p.m.

The Roadrunners’ home opener is scheduled for Friday, Nov. 9 at 11 a.m. against Antelope Valley as a part of its annual “Education Day.”

Sophomore guard Jarker Joiner goes past a Chicago State defender to attack the rim in a game last season at the Icardo Center.
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