Filed under: Mid-Majors
Cal State Fullerton and Pacific -- two teams that figure to compete for the Big West title -- got an early start on the 2008-09 season with a Labor Day trip to Canada. Both teams, however, have their own set of problems to work through.
The Titans made their first NCAA appearance since 1978, but will welcome in a host of junior college transfers and a pair of redshirts to go with all-world shooting guard Josh Akognon. Pacific has had some off-the-court troubles during the summer, and likely welcomed a chance to concentrate on basketball for a change.
Pacific was perfect on its Canadian swing, going 3-0. Cal State struggled in its final game to finish its trip 2-1.
Cal State started its trip late, nearly playing its first game on the airport runway. Akognon scored 38 points in the first game with a performance that one observer said left the Canadians "slack-jawed," as the Titans cruised past Trinity Western University in Langley, British Columbia. Cal State received some clutch free-throw shooting (something you don't hear about the Titans every day) to get past Simon Fraser University in the second game.
But the University of British Columbia put a blanket around Akognon in the third game and defeated Cal State, 99-81. That will be something that every Big West team will likely attempt against the Titans this season.
"And this trip showed we need to develop more scoring options than Josh Akognon," said coach Bob Burton who was otherwise pleased with the trip.
"I was really, really happy with the trip and our team's effort. We accomplished exactly what we wanted to do. We have to remember we have nine new players and they were just getting to know each other."
Pacific's Chad Troyer hit a pull-up jumper in the lane at the buzzer to give the men's basketball team a 67-65 victory at the University of Victoria on Monday, Sept. 1. Pacific defeated the University of Victoria the previous night, 75-70. The Tigers destroyed Vancouver Island University on Saturday night.
Coach Bob Thomason used a variety of different lineups to get a look at all of his players. The team already was down Steffan Johnson who transfered to Idaho, along with Michael Kirby and senior center Michael Nunnally who are taking time off from the team. Guard C.J. Morgan also did not play for the Tigers.
Like Burton, however, Thomason must be pleased that his skeleton crew was able to win and get some valuable playing time.