Moorpark College jumped out to a superb start this season, compiling a 10-1 record at one point. The Raiders were sporting two shooters averaging over 20 points a game, a lot of tall beef on the inside and a quick point guard who ran a tidy offense.
After dropping their final preseason game, 74-63, to Santa Monica on Friday, however, none of that matters. Raiders Coach Al Nordquist is shifting attention to the start of Western State Conference play next week.
"It's 0-0 now," said Nordquist, whose Raiders will open the WSC on Thursday against Allan Hancock. "The records and all that have no bearing now that were going into the conference."
That may be good for the Raiders, who are 11-4 after getting off to a 10-1 start.
"We either make a big improvement or we go down the drain," Nordquist said.
For Moorpark to return to the state tournament this season, that big improvement will have to be in their big guys. The Raiders came up with only 12 offensive rebounds--three from guard Steve Abraham--while the Corsairs had 25 defensive rebounds.
"We've been working very hard lately on defensive boards," Santa Monica Coach John McMullen said. "But I was still a bit surprised that Moorpark didn't get very many on offense."
Santa Monica (11-6) didn't do much wrong on its home court Friday. The Corsairs had nine different players score, while Moorpark had only eight players in uniform. Santa Monica's Anthony Williams scored a team-high 16 points and played flawless defense.
Said McMullen: "Anthony has always been a good shooter, but now I think he's closer to becoming a complete guard than he ever has been."
David Gray, the sophomore guard from Crenshaw High, added 15 for Santa Monica.
Meanwhile, Moorpark is looking towards the future and trying to forget the preseason past--even with a fine 11-4 record.
"I don't have answers for a lot of things that happened," Nordquist said. "I know we didn't play well inside and we didn't shoot well from the outside." OK, maybe Nordquist doesn't think so, but Danny Camp and Danny Berryman did score points from the outside. Camp scored 14 and Berryman came off the bench to score a game-high 19.
Abraham had 12. But Moorpark's three big men--Chad Staples, Darrin Channels, and Dave Inemer--combined for only 16 points.
Of Inemer, Nordquist said: "We have a lot of confidence in Dave. We got the ball in to him in both halves, but he kept passing the ball back out. I don't know why he was doing it. We have confidence in him, but I think he needs a little more confidence in himself.
"We just didn't play well as a team. We didn't hit free throws, we didn't play with any patience and we missed a lot of shots from the outside. It could have been a 30-point rout."
Oddly, a Moorpark win wouldn't have satisfied Nordquist any more than dropping his fourth game to the Corsairs.
"I think the loss was the best thing that could have happened to the team before we went into conference. The worst thing that could have happened would have been to play like we did tonight and win."
Moorpark 30 33--63
Santa Monica 39 35--74
MOORPARK--Berryman 19 and 7 rebounds; Camp 14; Abraham 12; Staples 8; Channels 6; Inemer 2; Johnson 2.
SANTA MONICA--Williams 16; Gray 15; Bragg 9; Fields 9; Nash 8; Porter 7; Parks 6; Huey 2.