As stunning as was the run of the Cal State Stanislaus men’s basketball team to a conference title and within a few seconds of a Division II Elite Eight berth, something always seemed to be missing from all those moments.
When the Warriors claimed the California Collegiate Athletic Association title on March 8 in Ontario with an 82-70 victory over Chico State, there were perhaps 400 people warming chairs at the 10,832-seat Citizens Bank Arena.
There were about 200 rooting for the Warriors, maybe 100 for the Wildcats and 100 others just wanting to watch some live basketball.
It was an eerie scene, with dribbles, grunts, sneaker squeaks and cheers echoing through the building. There was no doubt that the people running the arena were disappointed in the turnout and would not be inviting the CCAA back for a third year.
Enter Stockton, which quickly is becoming the CCAA’s home away from home.
The 2015 CCAA Men’s and Women’s Basketball Championships will be hosted by Stockton Arena on March 5-7. It will remain a tough sell, and filling the 10,000 seats in Stockton likely is out of the question, but if Stanislaus sent 200 people to an arena 335 miles away, imagine how many seats the growing Warrior following could fill for a big game only 45 miles away?
“I think us getting in would be the first thing so our fans could enjoy it,” men’s coach Larry Reynolds said. “We had a nice following in Ontario last year, and that was a lot of fun to see. But being in Stockton certainly would be more convenient for our fans, provided, again, we do what we need to do to get ourselves there.”
Visit Stockton, the moniker of the Stockton Convention and Visitors Bureau, has stepped up in recent years to embrace Division II and low-level Division I postseason events.
The basketball tournament is only the first of four CCAA championships Stockton will host next spring. The CCAA Golf Championships will return for a second year at Brookside Country Club on April 20-22, the softball championships are set for a sixth consecutive run at Arnaiz Stadium on May 1-3 and the baseball championships will be played at Klein Family Field on the University of the Pacific campus May 7-10.
The road to Stockton for all CCAA teams begins Wednesday, the first official day of basketball practice for all men’s and women’s teams. The Warrior men open at home Nov. 8 against Bristol University of Anaheim, which plays at UC Merced the following night. The Stanislaus women’s team will open its season in Stockton on Nov. 14 with a game at Pacific.
If all goes well for the Stanislaus men and women, that won’t be their lone trip to Stockton.
“The more they continue to have successful tournaments, the more people will come out to watch,” Reynolds said. “We do know that it will be a hard sell for people in Southern California to come up north for a couple days, but of all the teams in the CCAA, we seem to travel the best.”
Ticket prices and more information about the CCAA basketball tournament will be released later, but the top six teams in the 12-team league qualify for the postseason tournament. Stanislaus won its first men’s basketball CCAA title in March as the No. 4 seed, while the Warrior women finished eighth, three wins short of a playoff spot.
Road Warriors return
All Stanislaus athletic teams are on the road this weekend, starting with the soccer teams, which will visit UC San Diego today and Cal Poly Pomona on Sunday.
The women’s team (10-1, 3-1 CCAA) moved up 10 spots to No. 7 in the nation and regained the No. 1 spot in the West Region with two wins last weekend. The men’s team (4-4-2, 2-1-1) also is in solid position for a CCAA playoff spot, and a win today over the Tritons (6-2, 3-1) would move the Warriors into fourth place.
The top six men’s and women’s team qualify for the CCAA Soccer Championships. Seeds 3-6 meet in a play-in game on Nov. 2. The winners in those games will advance to meet the top two seeds Nov. 7 and 9 at Warrior Stadium.
The Warrior volleyball team (1-12, 1-9) visits Sonoma State tonight and San Francisco State on Saturday. The cross country teams also are in San Francisco for today’s Gator Invitational at Golden Gate Park, while the tennis team competes in the Sonoma State Tournament on Saturday and Sunday.