California Baptist
Courtesy Western Athletic Conference

California Baptist Lancers Men’s Basketball 2022-23 Preview

The California Baptist Lancers are creating a lot of buzz in the college basketball world. And for good measure. The Lancers are eligible for the NCAA Tournament after a four-year transition period. Rick Croy and his staff brought in a bevy of transfers. And among these transfers is size, shooting ability and talent level. So, you can understand it. Add in the WAC Freshman of the Year returns, California Baptist gets its second-leading scorer back, and there is a redshirt freshman guard that many in Riverside are excited about.

Like it will be said later in the article, the Lancers are all in for the 2022-23 season.

Head Coach:

Rick Croy, 10th season
CBU: 213-90, Overall: 330-114

2021-22 Postseason:

Lost in second round of WAC Tourney and in first round of CBI to Middle Tennessee

Key Departures

Ty Rowell – 6-2, G – Graduated

Dan Akin – 6-9, F – Graduated

Chance Hunter – 6-6, G – transfer to Cal Poly

Newcomers

Riley Battin – 6-9, F, Utah

Joe Quintana – 6-2, G, Loyola Marymount

Tim Ighoefe – 7-0, C, Georgetown

Blondeau Tchoukuiegno – 6-2, G, New Hampshire

Hunter Goodrick – 6-7, F, South Dakota

Key Returners

Tre Armstrong – 6-5, Jr, G

Taran Armstrong – 6-5, So., G

Reed Nottage – 6-7, Jr, G

Juhlawnei Stone  – 6-7, So., F

Malik Wade – 6-8, So., F

Scotty Washington – 6-4, R-Fr, G

California Baptist
Juhlawnei Stone came on big for California Baptist in 2021-22 and will play a larger role in 2022-23. Courtesy Western Athletic Conference.

Breakdown

When you look at what California Baptist head coach Rick Croy and his staff did in the offseason, there is really only one thing that comes to mind. The Lancers are all in for the 2022-23 season. And for good reason. The Lancers are now eligible to play in the NCAA Tournament. Yep, four years have come and gone since CBU joined the WAC from the D-II ranks. And, in this first season of eligibility, Croy and his staff have put together a monster roster. Depth is key to success and the Lancers will be two-deep at almost every position. This is due in part to key players returning including WAC Freshman of the Year Taran Armstrong. And it’s also due in large part to five Division I transfers finding their way to Riverside.

Riley Battin comes over from Utah. And at 6-9, can play multiple positions according to Croy. Sharpshooter Joe Quintana comes over from Loyola Marymount. Quintana shot 43 percent from distance and knocked down 83 of his 193 3-point attempts. Knowing that CBU likes to shoot the 3-ball, Quintana will fit right in instantly.

Croy and the staff added another Australian in South Dakota transfer Hunter Goodrick. According to Croy, due to COVID and other issues, Goodrick hasn’t really had the chance to fully show what he can do. And Croy believes Goodrick’s best basketball is in front of him. The 6-7 redshirt sophomore started all 31 games for South Dakota in 2021-22 and shot nearly 57 percent from the field.

California Baptist also got significantly bigger and added depth in the paint with Georgetown transfer Tim Ighoefe. The 7-foot junior center finished his time in the Big East as No. 3 in offensive rebound percentage and No. 5 in total rebounding percentage.

And finally, Croy added more depth to his guard line with New Hampshire transfer Blondeau Tchoukuiegno. In his final season in the Northeast, Tchoukuiegno was one of 23 players in the nation to average 11 points, 5 rebounds and 4 assists per game.

After playing with six or seven guys at times in 2021-22, the Lancers are now almost two-deep. And in the paint, CBU is probably the deepest it has ever been. Juhlawnei Stone came on big last season in early January and got repetitions that were essential to his growth. And Malik Wade missed time due to injury. But, along with Ighoefe, Battin and Goodrick, these two returners add much-needed depth in the paint.

And then there is the guard line. Always a strength of the CBU offense, it is deep with talent, able shooters and perhaps a good deal of athleticism. One name to keep an eye on is redshirt freshman Scotty Washington. Talking with the Voice of the Lancers Braiden Bell, Washington could be a game-changer. At 6-4, with length and quickness, Washington could draw similarities to Milan Acquaah.

According to Croy, sophomore guard Taran Armstrong has gotten stronger in the offseason. Add this to the notion that his brother and teammate, Tre, believes Taran will be two to three times better than he was last year.

With more veteran experience, and depth, the biggest thing CBU has to do in 2022-23 is finish games. All you have to remember is the Lancers led 76-68 at home against Dixie State with 1:26 to play. The final score was 79-76 in favor of the visiting Trailblazers. That is how the 2021-22 season went. Compete at a high level but struggle to get over the hump and close out games. With a bevy of veterans, a point guard that has a year of experience under his belt, and depth, CBU will be a tough out in 2022-23.

Schedule News

The Lancers will compete in the SoCal Challenge in the Surf Division. The Lancers will face Big Ten foe Minnesota on Nov. 21 and then either Southern Illinois or UNLV depending on the outcomes of the Nov. 21 games. As part of the WAC’s résumé seeding system, CBU will have to put together a more challenging schedule.

But, Rick Croy says he is excited about what they have put together and is looking forward to announcing his nonconference schedule.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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