2020-21 wasn’t quite the season we are used to seeing in Riverside. The California Baptist men finished 13-10 overall and 6-6 in conference play. And, the Lancers had perhaps their worst game of the season in their first-ever appearance in the WAC Tournament in an 83-66 loss to Seattle to end the season. However, 2021-22 brings with it some new optimism. California Baptist returns All-WAC guard Ty Rowell. Reed Nottage and Tre Armstrong also return. The two youngsters in Malik Wade and Te’Jon Sawyer return. Yes, big man Gorjok Gak departed after one season. And he will be missed. However, head coach Rick Croy and his staff have brought in some new faces that give the Lancers more depth than they had in 2020-21.
Rick Croy, 9th season
CBU: 195-74, Overall: 312-99
0-1 (2019 CBI)
Gorjok Gak – 6-11, GR, F/C (signed pro contract with ERA Basketball Nymburk of the NBL)
Mark Carbone – 6-2, GR, G
Dan Akin – 6-8, F, UMBC
Chance Hunter – 6-6, G, Long Beach State
Pavel Zakharov – 7-0, C, Gonzaga
Taran Armstrong – 6-5, G, U17 Australian National Team
Predicted WAC Finish
The Lancers are going to light up the scoreboard. That is a given under head coach Rick Croy. California Baptist averaged nearly 80 points per game in 2020-21 while shooting nearly 40 percent from beyond the arc. Rowell and Nottage led the Lancers in scoring at 15.4 and 14.3 points per game, respectively. Rowell shot 40 percent from 3-point range while Nottage led the WAC in 3-point shooting at 48-percent clip.
Add in Tre Armstrong who also shot 40 percent from 3-point range and you have a 3-headed monster for the Lancers. Yes, Gorjok Gak has moved on to a professional career. Gak averaged 13.5 points and 10.3 rebounds in his only season in Riverside. But, Croy and his staff found perhaps a diamond in the rough in the offseason. 7-footer Pavel Zakharov transfers over from Gonzaga and should fill the void left by Gak. Zakharov only averaged 2.8 minutes per game in Spokane so the verdict is still in on whether he will be a key contributor for the Lancers. However, considering the size in the WAC, CBU needed another big.
Perhaps the biggest difference about the 2021-22 Lancers will be the depth. All three guards mentioned above averaged over 32 minutes per game. Mark Carbone, who graduated, came in to give a spell here and there but there was a real lack of depth in 2020-21. With Dan Akin and Chance Hunter coming to Riverside via the transfer portal, and Taran Armstrong from Australia, the Lancers have more options coming off the bench.
Malik Wade and Te’Jon Sawyer return after an up and down freshman season. Wade averaged a little over 11 minutes per game while Sawyer saw a little over seven minutes off the bench. But with a full offseason of workouts and a full season under their belts, these two sophomore big men could provide even more depth in the paint for the Lancers.
The full non-conference slate hasn’t come out for the Lancers yet. However, some games have been announced. CBU will compete in the 2021 Abe Lemons Classic where they will host both San Jose State and Northern Colorado before heading to Austin to take on Texas on Nov. 24.
???@CBUmbb will take part in the 2021 Abe Lemons Classic as part of a four-team pod, including nationally ranked Texas, San Jose State, and Northern Colorado that will tip-off Wednesday, November 17.
— California Baptist Lancers (@CBULancers) July 6, 2021
CBU will also travel to Tucson to take on Pac-12 foe Arizona at the McKale Center on Dec. 18.
— California Baptist Men's Basketball (@CBUmbb) July 28, 2021