Cal Poly Mustangs

NIT Season Tip-Off

Report: Minnesota transfer lands at Cal Poly

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After seeing little play time through the first seven games of his collegiate career, 6-foot-8 Josh Martin was looking for a fresh start.

The former Minnesota forward will do so back on the west coast, transferring to Cal Poly, according to a report from Evan Daniels of Scout on Friday night. Martin originally committed to the Golden Gophers, but transferred last month, leaving Richard Pitino with only 10 scholarship players.

Martin was averaging 1.3 points and 1.0 rebounds in only 5.4 minutes per game. He came out of high school as a three-star recruit, according to Rivals.

Cal Poly reached the program’s first-ever NCAA tournament a season ago. Martin, who will have three and a half years of eligibility beginning in the second semester of the 2015-16 season, will add some front court depth for the Mustangs alongside current juniors Brian Bennett (11.5 points and 6.0 rebounds per game) and Joel Awich (6.3 points, 5.8 boards, 1.3 blocks a night).

Cal Poly is currently 7-5 heading into Big West Conference play.

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Cal Poly’s David Nwaba spins through traffic for a two-handed finish (VIDEO)

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In the first half of their game against Northeastern at the Cable Car Classic in Santa Clara, California on Wednesday, the Cal Poly Mustangs struggled on both ends of the floor. Joe Callero’s Mustangs shot just 8-for-29 from the field, scoring 17 points with Northeastern’s Scott Eatherton tallying 11 points and nine rebounds to lead the Huskies to a 14-point lead at the intermission.

Cal Poly would turn things around in the second half however, shooting 65.4% from the field with Brian Bennett scoring 13 of his team-high 19 points and David Nwaba adding 11 points to help lead the Mustangs to a 60-58 win.

Nwaba provided the highlight of the evening as well, using an Aleks Abrams ball screen to make his way to the basket. Path to the rim cut off by the defender? No problem for Nwaba, who spun back to his left and finished the play with a two-handed dunk.

David Nwaba Dunk from Jeremy Jauregui on Vimeo.

2014-15 Big West Preview: UC Irvine, UCSB lead highly competitive race

UC Irvine head coach Russell Turner (AP Photo)
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UC Irvine head coach Russell Turner (AP Photo)

Beginning on October 3rd and running up until November 14th, the first day of the season, College Basketball Talk will be unveiling the 2014-2015 NBCSports.com college hoops preview package.

MORE: 2014-2015 Season Preview Coverage | Conference Previews | Preview Schedule

The 2013-14 season was a very competitive one for the Big West, with preseason favorite UC Irvine winning the regular season title. Big West Coach of the Year Russell Turner’s Anteaters were one of the nation’s best defensive teams and that was to be expected, with 7-foot-6 Mamadou Ndiaye anchoring their zone defense in the middle and defensive stalwart Will Davis II also figuring prominently in their plans. UC Irvine went 13-3 in conference play, finishing a game ahead of a very good UCSB squad led by Big West Player of the Year Alan Williams.

With those two teams combining to go 25-7 in Big West play they were a lock to reach the conference tournament final, right? Wrong.

The Anteaters and Gauchos received a painful reminder of how rough conference tournaments can be in one-bid leagues, as both were bounced from the Big West tournament with seven-seed Cal Poly getting hot at just the right time. Joe Callero’s Mustangs, who entered the tournament having lost five of their final six regular season games, beat UCSB and UC Irvine on consecutive days before holding off CSUN in the title game.

The favorite in 2014-15 will once again be a UC Irvine team returning nearly 84 percent of its scoring from a season ago. In addition to Ndiaye (8.0 ppg, 6.2 rpg, 3.1 bpg) and Davis (11.0, 6.4) the Anteaters also welcome back guards Alex Young (junior; 8.9 ppg, 4.6 apg) and Luke Nelson (sophomore; 11.8 ppg), the last two winners of the league’s Freshman of the Year award. UC Irvine will be favored to repeat as Big West regular season champs, and UCSB could once again be the Anteaters’ greatest threat.

The Gauchos also return four starters, with Williams (21.3 ppg, 11.5 rpg, 2.4 bpg) and junior guard Michael Bryson (11.5, 4.3) leading the way offensively. UCSB also has one of the steadier hands in the conference in point guard Zalmico Harmon, who ranked second nationally in assist-to-turnover ratio (4.64). Yet even with the amount of talent returning at both UC Irvine and UCSB, as many as six teams harbor realistic thoughts of winning the Big West.

One team to keep in mind is Long Beach State, which will be led by senior guards Michael Caffey and Tyler Lamb. Those two combined to score more than 31 points per game last season, and the addition of FGCU graduate transfer Eric McKnight will help the 49ers in the paint. Dan Monson’s put together another brutal non-conference slate, so Long Beach State will once again be tested before the start of league play.

CSUN returns the tandem of Stephen Maxwell and Stephan Hicks, and Cal Poly returns three starters led by junior David Nwaba. UC Davis can’t be ignored either, as the Aggies are led by one of the more prolific perimeter scorers around in senior Corey Hawkins. There’s a lot of returning talent in the Big West, which should make for a highly competitive 2014-15.

PRESEASON BIG WEST PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Alan Williams, UCSB

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UCSB’s Alan Williams (Getty Images)

Williams won the honor last season and with good reason, as he averaged 21.3 points, 11.5 rebounds and 2.4 blocked shots per game. Williams shot 53.3% from the field, and he was the best player in the Big West in both offensive (14.6) and defensive (26.9) rebounding percentage.

THE REST OF THE PRESEASON ALL-BIG WEST TEAM:

  • Corey Hawkins, UC Davis: Hawkins accounted for 18.0 points, 4.5 rebounds and 3.0 assists per game as a redshirt junior.
  • Michael Caffey, Long Beach State: Caffey’s been a first team All-Big West selection in each of the last two seasons, averaging 16.2 points, 4.4 rebounds and 4.2 assists per game in 2013-14.
  • Isaac Fotu, Hawaii: No Christian Standhardinger means even more attention for Fotu, who accounted for 14.9 points and 6.1 rebounds per game last season.
  • Stephen Maxwell, CSUN: Maxwell was very good last season, shooting 54.7% from the field and averaging 17.5 points and 8.8 rebounds per contest.

ONE TWITTER FEED TO FOLLOW: @BigWestMBB

PREDICTED FINISH

1. UC Irvine
2. UCSB
3. Long Beach State
4. CSUN
5. Cal Poly
6. UC Davis
7. Hawaii
8. Cal-State Fullerton
9. UC Riverside

Report: Former Gonzaga forward Lucas Meikle transfers to Cal Poly

Joe Callero
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After he made just 15 appearances as a freshman at Gonzaga, it was announced in late May that 6-foot-9 forward Lucas Meikle was granted a release from his scholarship and would be transferring. On Sunday Meikle’s new destination was learned, with Left Coast Recruiting reporting that the Bellarmine Prep (Tacoma, Wash.) product is headed to Cal Poly.

In his 15 games Meikle played just under four minutes per game, posting averages of 0.7 points and 0.9 rebounds per contest. Meikle’s best offensive performance came in Gonzaga’s 91-81 win over Arkansas at the Maui Invitational, as he scored four points in eight minutes of action while also blocking two shots.

Meikle also grabbed a season-high four rebounds in Gonzaga’s 93-61 win over Colorado State on November 11, to go along with two points and a blocked shot in nine minutes.

Meikle will have to sit out the 2014-15 season per NCAA transfer rules, leaving him three years of eligibility beginning with the 2015-16 campaign. Joe Callero’s Mustangs, who won the Big West tournament to earn the program’s first NCAA tournament bid, won’t lack for front court depth when Meikle becomes eligible to play in 2015.

Among the Mustangs in the front court who will have eligibility remaining are forwards David Nwaba (11.4 ppg, 4.8 rpg), Brian Bennett (6.1, 3.1) and Joel Awich (4.1, 2.7). All three players will be seniors when the 2015-16 season begins. Meikle is the fourth addition to the Cal Poly program, joining freshmen Aleks Abrams and Trevor John and junior Kyle Toth.

Cal Poly announces addition of shooting guard Trevor John

Joe Callero
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After struggling for much of the 2013-14 season Cal Poly got hot at just the right time, winning three games in as many days to earn the Big West’s automatic bid to the NCAA tournament. One of the issues for Joe Callero’s Mustangs: shooting, as they ranked last in the conference in field goal percentage (40.8%) and sixth (33.3%) in three-point percentage.

Improving their shooting is one way in which Cal Poly can make sure it’s a factor in 2014-15, and on Friday the school made official the addition of shooting guard Trevor John. John averaged 15.0 points and 8.0 rebounds per game at Monte Vista HS in Danville, Calif. last season, and Callero praised his ability to shoot the basketball in the release.

“We’re fortunate to have such a quality addition to our program,” said Callero of John, who joins a program coming off its first Big West Conference Tournament title and an NCAA Tournament second round appearance. “Trevor has the shooting ability of (former All-Big West selection) Dylan Royer and a great work ethic. He comes from a basketball family and understands the game and the commitment level needed to be successful.”

As for the comparison to Royer, he finished his career in 2013 shooting 44.4% from three, transforming from a player who attempted just seven three-pointers as a freshman to one of the Big West’s best shooters as a senior. If John, whose father Jay has plenty of coaching experience at the Division I level (he was head coach at Oregon State from 2002-08, and assistant coaching stops include Arizona and California), can travel a path similar to that of Royer that would bode well for the Mustangs.

John is one of three additions for Cal Poly, with junior college transfer Kyle Toth and incoming freshman Aleks Abrams being the others. The Mustangs will have to account for the loss of two of their top three scorers from last season (Chris Eversley and Kyle Odister), with forward David Nwaba (11.7 ppg, 4.8 rpg) being their most productive returnee.

Late Night Snacks: Cal Poly, Tennessee advance in NCAA tournament

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GAME OF THE NIGHT: Towson 63, USC Upstate 60

It isn’t often that a game ends on a half-court shot as time expires, but that was the case in Spartanburg as Four McGlynn’s shot gave Towson the win in the CIT first round matchup. Jerrelle Benimon led the way offensively for the Tigers with 20 points to go along with nine rebounds and three assists, helping Towson come back from a 13-point halftime deficit. USC Upstate’s Torrey Craig, who accounted for 14 points and 12 rebounds in the defeat, leaves the school ranked in the top five in Atlantic Sun history in both points (2,128) and rebounds (944).

IMPORTANT OUTCOMES

1) Midwest No. 11 Tennessee 78, Midwest No. 11 Iowa 65

Cuonzo Martin’s Volunteers took control of this one in the extra session, outscoring the Hawkeyes 14-1 in overtime to advance into the 64-team bracket where they’ll play six-seed UMass on Friday. Jarnell Stokes finished the game with 18 points and 13 rebounds, but the key in the second half was the play of Josh Richardson. Richardson gave the Volunteers a needed spark in the second half, and his 17 points helped supplement the efforts of Stokes and Jordan McRae (20 points). As for Iowa what’s been a very tough week for the program came to a difficult ending in Dayton, and they end the season having lost seven of their final eight games.

2) Midwest No. 16 Cal Poly 81, Midwest No. 16 Texas Southern 69

Make it four in a row for a team that just a week ago was 10-19, having lost nine of their last 11 regular season games. Chris Eversley scored 19 points and David Nwaba added 17 for the Mustangs, who will play one-seed Wichita State in St. Louis on Friday. As a team Cal Poly shot 56.9% from the field, making 64% of their shots inside of the arc against a Texas Southern team that struggled mightily defensively. Aaric Murray led the Tigers with 38 points.

3) SMU 68, UC Irvine 54 

For teams who fall short of their goal to reach the NCAA tournament, the question before they begin postseason play in another event is what their motivation will be. For SMU, it took awhile to get going against Big West regular season champion UC Irvine. But after sleepwalking through much of the first half Larry Brown’s team got going in the second, putting together a 23-7 run to take control of the game. Cannen Cunningham scored 17 points and Ben Moore added 11 for SMU, which will host LSU in the second round.

STARRED

1) Rayvonte Rice (Illinois) 

Rice accounted for 28 points, eight rebounds and two assists in Illinois’ 66-62 win over Boston University in the first round of the Postseason NIT.

2) Charles Mann (Georgia) 

29 points on 8-for-11 shooting from the field, five rebounds and three assists in the Bulldogs’ 63-56 win over Vermont in the Postseason NIT.

3) Aaric Murray (Texas Southern) 

Murray shot 14-for-23 from the field, scoring 38 points in the Tigers’ 81-69 loss to Cal Poly.

STRUGGLED

1) Texas Southern’s other four starters

While Murray proved to be a handful for Cal Poly, the Mustangs were able to keep his fellow starters under wraps. Those four players combined to score nine points on 3-for-13 shooting.

2) Aaron White and Roy Devyn Marble (Iowa)

Marble’s jumper with 18 seconds remaining forced overtime, but overall it was a rough night for Iowa’s leading scorers. Marble and White combined to shoot 4-for-20 from the field, with the former going 3-for-15.

3) Jonathan Williams (Toledo) 

Shot 0-for-8 from the field in the Rockets’ 66-59 loss at Southern Miss in a Postseason NIT first round matchup.

NOTABLES

  • Kenneth “Speedy” Smith’s basket with 2.2 seconds remaining gave Louisiana Tech an 89-88 win over Iona in the Postseason NIT. Jaron Johnson and Kenyon McNeail scored 15 points apiece to lead five Bulldogs in double figures.
  • Playing without Richard Solomon, who was forced to sit due to a concussion, California advanced in the Postseason NIT with a 77-64 win over Utah Valley. David Kravish finished with 14 points, ten rebounds and five blocks.
  • Ya Ya Anderson scored 23 points and Javonte Green and R.J. Price added 20 apiece to lead Radford to a 96-92 win at Oregon State in the CBI. The Highlanders scored 57 points in the first half, and their win ends the college career of Roberto Nelson (26 points).
  • Kourtney Roberson scored 14 points and grabbed ten rebounds in Texas A&M’s 59-43 win over Wyoming, with the Aggies limiting the Cowboys to 16 first-half points.
  • D.J. Newbill scored 19 points and Brandon Taylor added 14 as Penn State moved one game closer to the .500 mark with a 69-65 win over Hampton in the CBI.
  • Evan Conti scored 17 points to help lead Quinnipiac to a tight 69-68 win over in-state rival Yale in a CIT matchup. Ousmane Drame added 12 points and 17 rebounds for the winners.
  • Jarvis Williams scored 20 points and grabbed ten rebounds in Murray State’s 66-63 win at Missouri State in a CIT matchup. Steve Prohm’s Racers are now 19-11 on the season.