Cal State Stanislaus basketball teams open practice looking to turn page

bvanderbeek@modbee.comOctober 15, 2013 

  • ABOUT THE REPORTER
    alternate textBrian VanderBeek
    Title: Staff writer
    Coverage areas: Sports, including preps, colleges and the Modesto Nuts
    Bio: Brian VanderBeek joined The Bee in 1996 after previously working at The Home News-Tribune and The Star-Ledger in New Jersey, the (Dover) Delaware State News and the Hanford Sentinel. He is a graduate of Ripon High, Modesto Junior College and holds a degree in journalism from Fresno State.
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— The first job for the men's and women's basketball teams at Cal State Stanislaus was pretty basic.

The players had to learn what they could from the worst combined season in school history, then turn the page and get ready for the 2013-14 season.

The Stanislaus men posted a 10-16 record, while the women went 2-25. Together that's a 12-41 record, just slightly worse than the previous low water mark of 12-38 established in 1978-79 when the Warriors were Division III and the women went 0-24.

During Tuesday's first official day of practice there appeared to be no hangover from the previous long, long, winter — only the hope that encompasses the start of every season, the only moment in which all teams are undefeated.

"I'm very excited because this is my first official recruiting class, and we have three seniors returning that have a great understanding of what needs to be done on the court," said second-year women's coach Wayman Strickland.

"They're showing great leadership. Seniors seem to have a greater sense of urgency."

The Warrior women open play Nov. 8 with a game at the University of the Pacific, so as practice begins, it's the men's team that has to work with greater urgency.

Stanislaus' men have only 10 practices before opening play Oct. 30 with an exhibition game at the University of the Pacific. Two nights later, they'll be back on the court for a second exhibition at Fresno State.

The for-real opener for the men is a Nov. 9 afternoon home tilt against Simon Fraser.

"I think we have the pieces to be better, but we just have to make sure we're defending better," said Warriors' coach Larry Reynolds. "We're playing really fast right now, but we do that early for conditioning reasons."

In the final half-hour of the opening practice, Reynolds put his returning players in white jerseys and pitted them against the red-clad newcomers. The reds won convincingly.

"Usually the first day I like to put the veterans against the newcomers just to see what happens," Reynolds said. "We're a lot more athletic than we've been and that's what we needed to address over the summer. It will be a matter of getting those new guys worked-in."

Of course, the men's team has a shorter road to reach respectability within the California Collegiate Athletic Association than do the women.

When Strickland took over the program in late July, 2012, not only was there no time to recruit for his first season, but he inherited a very short roster.

"When I got the job I knew for certain I had four players," Strickland said. "Now we have a full roster with 20 young women in the program. We'll travel with 14 and there's a group that will redshirt. We're starting the process of building a solid Division II program.

"Last year we were building the culture of how to do things the Warrior way and we had to wade through a long, hard season. We just didn't have enough talent to win in this conference. Now we've got a few more soldiers in the battle."

For both the men and the women the journey ahead will be long and is certain to contain some bumps.

But it all started Tuesday with that very first practice.

Brian VanderBeek can be reached at (209) 578-2150 or follow him on Twitter, @modestobeek

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