Mark Samuels scored 30 points in the Pioneers' three-point exhibition loss to Division I Pacific.
If a three-point defeat to Division I UOP in an exhibition game on Nov. 5 is any indication, the Pioneer men's basketball team will be a force to be reckoned with during the 2011-12 campaign.
The Pioneers will open the 2011-12 season on November 11 with a home game against Dominican University.
“If the guys can stick together and play good defense like we did against UOP, we can be a good team,” Pioneer head coach Will Biggs said.
Eligible for post season play in their third year of competition in the CCAA, the Pioneers return five players from the 2010-11 team that finished 2-20 in the CCAA and 4-22 overall.
Expect the 2011-12 Pioneers to play three guards and two forwards on the court and use their size and to be competitive this season.
“We have a lot of weapons on this team,” Biggs said. “Our team can play big and small and use different combinations on the court.”
The Pioneers will be strong at the guard position with the return of senior Roshun Wynne and junior Mark Samuels.
Wynne, who averaged 12.3 points a game during the season, ranked 15th in the CCAA with a 12.1 point per game average. He was second in the CCAA with 2.2 steals a contest and seventh in assists with 2.9 a game.
Samuels, the Pioneers' leading scorer at 14.3 points per game as a sophomore, was ninth in scoring in the CCAA at 13.5ppg. He ranked eighth in steals (1.3) and 10th in assists (2.8) in the CCAA. Samuels poured in a game-high 30 points in the exhibition game against UOP.
“Roshun and Mark are great players whose roles are to be tough and solid on the court,” Biggs said. “The players around them this year we make it easier for the both of them.”
Jacari Whitfield, a freshman from St. Joseph Notre Dame High School, is expected to contribute both offensively and defensively at guard. “Jacari is able to change the tempo of the game with his quickness and toughness on defense,” Biggs said.
Besides Whitfield, the Pioneers strengthen themselves at the guard position with the addition of newcomers Jason Smith, Walla Community College, Felix Mapanda, Fresno City College andTre Mauldin, Lancaster High School.
“Jason can shoot, while Felix is strong on defense and is a solid rebounder,” Biggs said. “Tre has tremendous skills and should contribute during the season.” Senior Adam Watts will add experience at the guard position.
Jurrell Turner, a resident of Hayward and a transfer from Wiley College, will start at one of the forward positions. Turner scored 10 points in the Pioneers' exhibition game against UOP on November 5. “Jurrell is a smart player with tremendous skills,” Biggs said. “He'll be the quiet leader of this team.”
Nick Marshall, a junior college transfer from Las Positas College, is the likely starter at the other forward spot. “Nick is a very talented player,” Biggs said. “When he plays better, we play better as a team.”
Sophomore Rodrigue Maza, a scoring threat from the outside, will be used at forward and center. Rodrigue will help us with his outside shooting and rebounding,” Biggs said.
Newcomers expected to contribute at the forward position include Vincent Capellino, College of the Redwoods and freshman Quinton Lilley, Summit High School. “Vincent is a hard-working kid who makes things happen on the court while Quinton is a tough, competitive player,” Biggs said.
Sophomore Kenneth Farr II rounds out the 2011-12 Pioneers
Entering his 15th year at the helm of the Pioneer men's basketball team, coach Biggs has high expectations for his squad.
“We must compete and commit to defend and rebound,” Biggs said. We need contributions from 10 players this season. If those things happen, the scoreboard will take care of itself.”