Director of Athletics Debby DeAngelis (Photo: Barry Zepel)
With the end of the quarter and the holidays quickly approaching, it's easy to forget that your Pioneer athletic teams are still in competition. While everyone on campus focuses on finals and term papers, our student-athletes and staff also will experience the excitement and nerves that accompany the opening of the 2009-10 CCAA basketball season. With a few games under their belts in their return to Division II basketball, the Pioneers are set to kick off conference play this week on the road at Cal Poly Pomona and Cal State San Bernardino.
Head Coach Will Biggs will guide his 2-1 men's squad into action against the defending CCAA regular-season champion Broncos, who made a national championship game appearance in 2009. The Pioneers face a tough test against Cal Poly Pomona and Cal State San Bernardino to open the league slate. Pomona welcomes back four starters from last season, including All-CCAA selections Austin Swift and Tobias Jahn, while the Coyotes boast the 2009 CCAA Tournament title and an NCAA West Regional appearance.
The conference sent four men's teams to the NCAA Tournament in 2009 and has claimed four national championships all time on the men's side. The Broncos were picked to repeat as CCAA champs by the league coaches, while Humboldt State, San Bernardino, Cal State Dominguez Hills and Cal State LA rounded out the top five in the preseason poll.
On the women's side, Head Coach Toni West and her new-look squad opened the season with a loss to Western Washington on Nov. 20 but are looking ahead to this weekend's CCAA action. The task ahead of the Pioneers is tough, as they open their first season in the league against 18-time conference champion Cal Poly Pomona. The Broncos have captured five national titles, with their last coming in 2001, and finished fourth in the CCAA in 2009. The women then join the men in facing a Cal State San Bernardino squad that went 11-17 overall last year.
The CCAA saw three of its women's teams qualify for the NCAA Tournament last season, with conference champion University of California, San Diego and runner-up Humboldt State each reaching the West Regional semifinals. Pomona junior guard Reyana Colson and UCSD sophomore guard Chelsea Carlisle are both coming off All-America seasons, while last year's leading scorer and Newcomer of the Year, Dominguez Hills' Neka Mixon, returns for her junior season. The Tritons were tabbed to take their fourth straight title, while Pomona, Humboldt State, Cal State Dominguez Hills and Chico State were picked to finish second, third, fourth and fifth, respectively, in the preseason coaches poll.
Though the Pioneers won't be eligible to win the conference title or play in the 2010 CCAA Tournament, the league slate should present some exciting matchups, including the first edition of the Battle of the Bay on Jan. 14, when San Francisco State makes the trip to Hayward. The Gators saw both squads go 14-14 overall in 2009 and will be looking to establish themselves in the first year of what could become a serious rivalry with the Pioneers. We'll be looking to fill the stands at Pioneer Gym for both games of the doubleheader that will see the women tip off at 5:30 p.m. and the men at 7:30 p.m.
So, if you're looking for a break from the stress of finals and the holidays, make your way over to Pioneer Gym for a game. Celebrate the end of the quarter with the Pioneer men on Dec. 12, when they take on Seattle Pacific, a 2009 West Regional participant, or stick around for Cal State East Bay's CCAA home openers on Dec. 12 against UCSD. Happy holidays and go Pioneers!