Game Preview: Cal State Northridge


There was a game on Sunday? What? I don’t know what you’re talking about.

by: John Chase

Sorry for a lack of game review following the humiliating and embarrassing loss to SDST, but I just couldn’t bring myself to relieve that experience. Arguably one of, if not thee, worst loss in the last 10 years and possibly in program history.

The only players I thought played a truly complete and solid game were Desmond Simmons and Darnell Gant. Simmons is a workhorse who’s attitude the entire team should emulate. Simmons had 11 boards, 7 offensive, and scored 8 points. Gant put up 10 rebounds, 5 offensive, and dropped 15. Outside of them, it was a lot of bad basketball and underachieving play.

On to Cal State.

Cal State is 3-6 on the year coming off two straight wins against Pepperdine and Pacifica (who the beat by 41). In each of their wins they have scored at least 73 points, with two games in the 90’s. Their losses have featured scores of 67 or less with a low of 49. On the year the Matadors are averaging just under 70 points and 37 boards per game. The are shooting 37% from the field as well.

The Matadors receive solid contributions from a number of players and are led in scoring by Stephan Hicks, a 6-5 190lb guard, who is averaging over 17 points per game and a team high 8.7 rebounds per game. He is a do-it-all, hard working player that is an extreme threat in all aspects of the game. Hicks is a fantastic free throw shooting who drains nearly 90% of his attempts from the line. What I wouldn’t do to have him coach Tony Wroten….

Five other players average over 8 points per game, with three of those players scoring double digit averages. Michael Lizarraga is third in scoring with 10 points per night and second in rebounding with 7 boards on average. Lizarraga stands at 6-7 240lb and is a very strong inside threat. Hopefully Aziz N’Diaye will be returning tomorrow as the game against SDST showed a glaring weakness in post defense without him on the court. Lizarraga is 0-3 from the FT line and 0-1 from outside. He does most of his work next to the rim and can be contained by keeping his touches outside the paint. Lizarraga has played in only one game this season so while his stats seem impressive, its hard to judge his abilities from a single outing.

Josh Greene leads the team in assists with 3.6 per game and is second in scoring, averaging 10.6 per outing. Greene is a 6-0 180lb guard with a sweet, sweet FT touch shooting 90.5% on the season and some great defensive abilities as well, leading the Matadors in steals. His outside shot is still being developed and has only made 16 of his 59 attempts on the year. Greene is second only to Vinnie McGee who is 17 of 91 on the season. As a team the Matadors are shooting a bit over 26% from outside, but are 78% from the FT line. Clearly this is a team that thrives on their inside game and getting to the foul line, where they average 22 attempts per game.

Vinnie McGee is a 5-10 170lb guard with 9.7 ppg on the year. He is second in assists with 2.7 per game, but is also averaging 2 turnovers per game.  He is a 75% free throw shooter and like the rest of his team does most of his work inside the paint. McGee does lead the team in 3-point makes, but with a 28% shooting average from deep, he is not a huge threat from outside.

Frankie Eteuati is their starting center and is build very similar to UW’s own Jernard Jerreau. Eteuati stands 6-10, but weighs in at only 190lb. He is not a big contributor averaging only 1.4 points and 2.1 rebounds in his 8 games thus far. The Matadors do not possess a true big man threat, something the Huskies would be good to attack.

Predicted Starting Line-Ups:

Cal State:

G – Vinnie McGee 5-10 170lb
G – Josh Greene 6-0 180lb
G – Aqeel Quinn 6-4 190lb
F – Stephan Hicks 6-5 190lb
F – FrankieEteuati 6-10 190lb


G – Abdul Gaddy 6-3 185lb
G – C.J. Wilcox 6-5 190lb
G – Terrence Ross 6-6 195lb
F – Darnell Gant 6-8 230lb
C – Aziz N’Diaye 7-0 260lb (If N’Diaye is still out, I’d bet on Desmond Simmons starting)

Keys to the Game:

  • Attack the Rim – Only Tony Wroten has been doing this as of late. While I commend him for this, he has no right hand and this often leads to terrible lay-ins that clunk off the rim. I appreciate him drawing fouls, but he is still a terrible foul shot. Ross and Wilcox need to get aggressive and start taking shots inside. Wilcox has been better than Ross at this, but he all to often draws up short of contact, missing out on easy free throws. With the Matadors lacking a strong inside presence, UW can really affect the game by getting in the paint and attack them at their weakness.
  • Defense – This may seem vague, but after the horrendous defense UW put out against the Jackrabbits I feel like it has to be said. Too many players are not getting the lateral movement they need to stay in front of their man and in turn preventing them from driving the lanes. The Dawgs need to communicate better on defense to ensure rotations lead to tight man coverage rather than open shots.
  • Rebounding – This is something the Huskies can do either very well or very poorly depending on the game. Recently its been on the up-and-up with Simmons and Ross leading the way behind the ever constant N’Diaye. It’s all about controlling the offensive glass to give our shooters opportunities and maintaining the defensive glass to prevent second chance shots by the opposition. I think a big part of tomorrows game will be how well UW can use its superior size to eat up rebounds.

Final Score Prediction: – UW-85 CSN-70

I truly hope Romar watches the tape from our last game and begins to appreciate just what kind of work Simmons does for our team. He is one of the toughest, hardest working players I’ve seen since Jon Brockman was rocking the number 40. He needs more play time and a bigger role in the team’s game plan.

I also hope Romar begins to coach Wroten on how to use his right hand and begins to hold him more responsible for his wild plays and passes. He has to learn that this is college, not high school, and players are much more aware and capable of stopping his plays form happening.

If Ross and Wilcox and finally begin to deliver inside and develop into the players they should be, this team will greatly benefit from it. At this point, UW needs to win the conference title with at least 14 wins to secure an at-large bid, but I will not feel comfortable unless we secure the Pac-12 auto bid by winning the conference tournament.

I hope this team can turn things around because at this point the season has been a huge bust of wasted potential.

Go Dawgs!