COLLEGE BASKETBALL: 1994-95 PREVIEW : CAL STATE NORTHRIDGE : Matadors' Only Goal Is Winning

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Peter Micelli has one goal for the college basketball season, and it has nothing to do with how many points or rebounds he gets for Cal State Northridge.

"I want a winning season," said Micelli, a fifth-year senior. "That's all I want, and I'm going to ask Santa, the Easter bunny, everybody. A winning season is the only thing that's important."

If you're going to ask, might as well shoot for the moon.

Northridge will open its fifth season of major-college competition on Saturday at 2 p.m. against sixth-ranked UCLA at Pauley Pavilion. The Matadors' best record in previous NCAA Division I campaigns was an 11-17 finish in 1991-92.

And for the Matadors, the climb toward respectability never has been as steep as it appears this season. Among their first eight games are four teams--UCLA, Alabama Birmingham, Cincinnati and New Mexico--that made last season's NCAA tournament and another that played in the NIT, Xavier of Cincinnati. Home games against California and Nevada Las Vegas and trips to Pepperdine, Washington State and Fresno State are scheduled later.

"Certainly, this is the most challenging schedule we've ever had," Coach Pete Cassidy said. "That part is a plus, if you choose to look at it that way."

Cassidy, starting his 24th season as Northridge's coach, had hoped that by now his program would have been on solid footing and achieved at least moderate success. The Matadors, though, have been rocked by recruiting problems, injuries and, most recently, last January's earthquake, which chased players from their homes and the team from its gymnasium.

"You would like to think that this year has to be better," Cassidy said. "Then again, we've said that every year."

Like the school's gymnasium, Northridge's basketball program is being refurbished.

Andre Chevalier, the school's all-time scoring leader and a four-year starter at point guard, has completed his eligibility. Taking over the controls is Robert Hill, a 6-foot-1 junior who has started only once in two seasons. Waiting is Trenton Cross, a 5-11 freshman who last season averaged 17.4 points for Reseda High and was considered the San Fernando Valley's top prep player.

Micelli, at 6-8 Northridge's tallest starter, also is the team's only returning player who averaged more than five points a game. Micelli averaged 10.9 points and 3.8 rebounds.

Shawn Stone is the club's top returning rebounder--and he's a 6-3 guard. Stone last season had identical rebounding and scoring averages of 5.2.

Forwards Mike Dorsey and Ruben Oronoz, a pair of junior college transfers, are expected to provide scoring and rebounding balance.

Eric Gray, a 6-6 transfer from Canada College in Redwood City, Calif., is an excellent perimeter shooter and should add scoring punch off the bench.

Northridge might be in over its head in the early going, but for the first time in their Division I tenure, the Matadors have a conference schedule to anticipate.

The America West Conference, a loosely organized alliance of four otherwise orphaned teams, makes its debut this season. Northridge, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, Cal State Sacramento and Southern Utah are league members. Of the group, only Southern Utah, at 16-11, had a winning record last season.

CS Northridge Facts and Figures

1994-95 ROSTER

No Player Pos Hgt Wgt Yr Hometown (HS/College) 12 *Robert Hill G 6-1 200 Jr N. Hollywood (N. Hollywood) 20 *Ozan Korkut G 6-3 195 So Istanbul, Turkey (Galatasaray Lisesi) 21 Lucky Grundy G 5-10 160 Fr Santa Monica (Santa Monica) 22 *Shawn Stone F-G 6-3 185 Sr Oceanside (MiraCosta) 24 *Ryan Martin G 6-3 195 Sr Fountain Valley (Ocean View) 32 Peter Micelli C-F 6-8 235 Sr Beverly Hills (Beverly Hills) 33 Trenton Cross G 5-11 172 Fr Los Angeles (Reseda) 34 Mike Dorsey F 6-6 205 Jr Riverside (LACC) 40 Eric Gray F 6-6 195 Jr Twentynine Palms (Twentynine Palms) 41 *Tom Samson F 6-7 220 So Long Beach (St. John Bosco) 42 *Josh Willis F-G 6-6 190 Jr La Crescenta (Crescena Valley) 44 Ruben Oronoz F-G 6-7 220 Jr La Mirada (Rancho Santiago) 55 *Shane O'Doherty C 6-11 240 Sr Riverside (Notre Dame)

*Lettermen returning (7)

Coach: Pete Cassidy.

Assistants: Tom McCollum, Mike Johnson, James Morris.

1993-94 STATISTICS

Player G FGM-FGA Pct. FTM-FTA Pct. Ast Reb Pts Andre Chevalier 25 106-252 .421 137-168 .815 5.4 2.1 14.9 Brooklyn McLinn 26 119-259 .459 47-72 .653 2.1 2.8 12.9 Peter Micelli 26 104-227 .458 74-104 .712 0.9 3.8 10.9 Brent Lofton 23 95-178 .534 30-45 .667 0.7 4.0 9.6 Chris Yard 14 73-141 .518 25-41 .610 0.6 5.9 12.3 Ryan Martin 26 48-135 .356 24-27 .889 1.2 2.2 5.6 Shawn Stone 26 51-114 .447 29-40 .725 1.5 5.2 5.2 Robert Hill 26 29-84 .345 22-32 .688 1.3 1.3 3.6 Shane O'Doherty 25 29-48 .417 19-28 .679 0.6 2.8 2.4 Tom Samson 25 13-33 .394 6-11 .545 0.4 2.0 1.3 Josh Willis 22 10-39 .256 5-11 .455 0.4 0.5 1.2 Ozan Korkut 10 7-14 .500 6-10 .600 0.4 0.4 2.4 Northridge Totals 26 675-1524 .443 424-589 .720 14.5 32.7 73.0 Opponents 26 765-1581 .357 449-647 .694 15.2 39.2 81.7

Three-point goals: Chevalier 24-62; McLinn 50-127; Micelli 1-3; Lofton 0-1; Yard 1-1; Martin 25-70; Stone 4-12; Hill 13-37; O'Doherty 0-1; Willis 1-1; Korkyut 4-8. Northridge 123-333, 36.9%. Opponents 145-406, 35.7%

1994-95 SCHEDULE

Nov. 26 at UCLA 2:00 Nov. 29 at CS Fullerton 7:35 Dec. 3 Ala.-Birmingham 7:00 Dec. 6 Long Beach State 7:30 Dec. 9 San Diego St. 7:00 Dec. 19 at Cincinnati 5:00 Dec. 21 at Xavier 5:00 Dec. 28-29 *New Mexico Invitational Jan. 3 at Pepperdine 7:30 Jan. 7 Seattle 7:00 Jan. 9 at Loyola Marymount 7:05 Jan. 12 Nevada Las Vegas 7:00 Jan. 20 st Cal Poly SLO 7:30 Jan. 22 California 2:00 Jan. 25 at Washington St. 7:00 Jan. 30 Grand Canyon 7:00 Feb. 2 CS Sacramento 7:00 Feb. 6 Saint Mary's 7:00 Feb. 11 at Southern Utah 6:30 Feb. 15 at Fresno St. 7:30 Feb. 18 Cal Poly SLO 7:00 Feb. 22 at CS Sacramento 7:30 Feb. 25 Southern Utah 7:30 Feb. 28 at San Diego 7:30 Mar. 1 at UC Irvine 7:00 Mar. 10-11 **AWC Tournament

All Times are p.m. and PST

*at Albuquerque

**at Cedar City, Utah

1993-94 RESULTS

L, 0-1 Stanford 89-58 L, 0-2 *Gonzaga 90-57 L, 0-3 Long Beach St. 87-74 L, 0-4 SW Missouri 59-43 W, 1-4 *Central Michigan 66-64 L, 1-5 *San Diego 75-66 L, 1-6 *UC Irvine 93-82 L, 1-7 Arizona St. 100-81 L, 1-8 *San Diego St. 90-85 L, 1-9 Washington St. 93-78 L, 1-10 Montana St. 94-80 W, 2-10 *Buffalo 90-72 W, 3-10 UC Irvine 68-66 L, 3-11 St. Mary's 93-66 L, 3-12 Colorado 100-85 L, 3-13 NE Illinois 85-69 L, 3-14 Notre Dame 76-58 W, 4-14 CS Sacramento 84-67 L, 4-15 California 93-63 W, 5-15 *NE Illinois 89-84 L, 5-16 S. Utah 81-71 W, 6-16 *Grand Canyon 95-84 W, 7-16 *CS Sacramento 90-54 L, 7-17 *S. Utah 68-61 W, 7-18 Ala.-Birmingham 80-43 W, 8-18 San Diego St. 95-87

*Home: 5-5. Away: 3-13.

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