One would think that getting five players in double figures, including one with double-digit rebounds, would win you the game.
When it comes to the Cal State Northridge men's basketball team, one would be wrong.
The Matadors fell 84-76 to Cal State Fullerton in the first round of the Big West Tournament, ending their season at 11-21. That's a .344 win percentage, by far the worst in Bobby Braswell's now-completed 14 seasons. One has to go back to 1995-96 for a worse percentage: (7-20, .259), and one has to return to 1962-63 for more losses (that team went 3-23, or .115).
No one expected the Matadors to repeat as conference champions, which hasn't happened since Pacific won the last of three straight in 2006. There were too many new players to integrate.
In the end, inconsistency and the usual internal problems proved the undoing.
The Matadors usually played good defense and held opponents to 42.3 percent shooting from the field. But they didn't shoot any better: 42 percent.
Players would have great games and then disappear. For example, Kenny Daniels scored 39 against Idaho and five the next game against Washington. Daniels and Lenny Daniel would put together three-game streaks in which they scored in double figures but then go several games where they put in less than 10 points. Vinnie McGhee was on fire in the middle of the season and virtually disappeared as CSUN went deeper into the conference season. Willie Galick would stay out of foul trouble then foul out.
Then there were the starting lineups: 17 of them. It was if Braswell couldn't make up his mind (in reality, he often names starters based on how well they've practiced). Several included Tony Osunsanmi, who only seemed to score zero points every time. No wonder that in the 113-112 triple-overtime loss to Cal State Fullerton, the Matador bench scored 77 points (68.75 percent), in part because Vincent Cordell, Daniel and Daniels (a combined 58 points) didn't start. Actually, Cordell didn't usually start, either.
No one ever emerged as a leader. It could have been Rashaun McLemore, who some players said provided leadership. But McLemore had back trouble and missed the last seven games. Earlier in the season, he missed seven in a row, too. None of the seniors could pick up the slack.
Finally, rarely does a season go by that someone doesn't run afoul with Braswell. This year, it was Daniel who was suspended a game for conduct unbecoming the program, and then didn't play in the conference tournament for "failing to fulfill the academic requirements set forth by the Cal State Northridge men's basketball team."
Will next season be better? Definitely. There will be eight seniors, including Daniel and McLemore, so there should be leadership and scoring -- provided Daniel keeps his head straight and McLemore's back doesn't fell him. There also will be a big man in Michael Lizarraga, who got some good minutes this year in backing up Galick. McGhee and Dathan Lyles showed promise the times they played the point.
It's very unlikely the Matadors will lose 20 games next season. A winning record remains possible -- as long as there is more consistency.