“Very little margin for error”

This is the second entry from D3hoops Insider Justin Riley whose team is off to a quick start this season.

The 2009-2010 season of hoops is here and I couldn’t be more excited to get the ball rolling on this season. As stated in my previous blog, Chapman is not affiliated with a conference, therefore each game has to be played with conference intensity and preparation–there is very little margin for error.

With that said, we opened up our season on the road against the Pomona-Pitzer Sagehens. Last year, the Sagehens made it to the SCIAC championship game where they were defeated by the Claremont-Mudd-Scripps Stags. We knew the Sagehens were an experienced team (they added only one new starter) that had the smarts and talent to beat us. After getting off to a slow start, we quickly turned the game around and defeated the Sagehens by 18 points. It felt great to get the first win of the season under our belt, but we noticed some flaws in our game that would need to be corrected before facing the #14 ranked Cal Lutheran Kingsmen.

During the practices leading up to the game, I noticed a change in our team’s dynamic. We realized this would be one of the most important games of the season. Just hours before the game, I had butterflies in my stomach as I paced back and forth in my apartment. I was anxious to step on the court at 7 PM and give everything I had. This was the first time since my senior year of high school that I was this excited to play in a game. Before I could even blink, my teammates and I were on the court awaiting the ref to toss the jump ball and let play begin!

From the opening tip to the ending buzzer, the game was everything I had pictured it would be. We secured an upset victory over the visiting Kingsmen, 80-74. Both teams battled during the entire 40 minutes and the cheering fans added to a fun-filled environment that all players enjoy. Unlike Hope and Calvin, which averaged 2000 people in attendance per game last season, Chapman had about 500-600 fans in the stands for this game and the noise level was still pretty high. Ultimately, it was a great game for both teams and I am looking forward to potentially playing them again in the Lee Fulmer Tournament hosted by Redlands University December 3-5.

It feels good starting the season off with wins over two experienced and very good SCIAC teams. Next week we face La Verne on their home court, and Elmhurst on our floor. After these two games we will play UC Santa Cruz in the first round of the Lee Fulmer Tournament.

Chapman as well as the other SCIAC teams have improved from last year and returned several veteran players. This could be the year that sees a Southern California team walk the same lines as the best teams of the Northwest Conference. Keep your eyes and ears open for anything that comes from our area!

Until we meet again,
Justin Riley-Chapman University