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COLLEGE DIVISION MEN’S BASKETBALL PREVIEW : Panthers Try to Keep Losses to Minimum

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Last spring, Chapman men’s basketball Coach Mike Bokosky got some disconcerting news from sophomore point guard Adam Dzierzynski. Dzierzynski said he was taking a break from school to travel the world.

“He said he wanted to try and find himself,” Bokosky said. “I said, ‘That’s great Adam, but I now have to find another point guard.’ ”

Bokosky also was forced to replace an off-guard after another starter, Ramin Bastani, decided to transfer to USC and attempt to walk on with the Trojans. Including Stefan Mumaw, who played out his eligibility, the Panthers have lost three of their top four scorers and nearly half of their total offensive production.

It’s enough to make a coach worry. “There’s been a void created by those losses,” Bokosky said. “You don’t replace them, you hope that other players grow into those vacated areas.”

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Bokosky is hoping to avoid slippage from last season’s 18-6 finish, because the Panthers are eligible for the NCAA Division III playoffs for the first time. If they were eligible last season, they probably would have received a bid.

“If we are going to be good,” Bokosky said, “we’re going to have to be good early, because as an independent we play two-thirds of our Division III opponents in the first half of the season.”

A closer look at the local teams:

CHAPMAN 1994-95 record: 18-6 Bokosky expects the two returning starters, junior wing Toby Curto and senior forward Jim Falletta, to take over much of the load and blend with a mix of reserves from last season and talented newcomers.

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He never did find a replacement point guard--he found four who will share time at the position: Pete Sverkos, a junior from Long Beach City College; Todd Canavan, from Las Vegas; Larry Nagata, a junior who played at Pacifica High in 1991; and Derek Mitchell, a freshman from Cypress High.

Curto, 5 feet 10 from Liberty Christian High, averaged 10.6 points last season and is expected to become the scoring leader. Falletta, 6-5 from Troy High and Cypress College, is a hard-working forward who scored a game-high 20 points in the Panthers’ 75-72 victory over Pomona-Pitzer in their opener Tuesday.

Greg Vanden Ordel, a 6-9 senior, takes over for Mumaw in the post and showed much improvement Tuesday with 18 points and five blocked shots. Chad Murray, a 6-5 powerfully built junior who played at Fullerton High, and Aaron Aguilera, a 6-4 junior from Rancho Santiago College and El Modena High, will add bulk inside.

Umahl Anderson, who started two seasons ago and missed last year with a knee injury, is recovering from recent arthroscopic knee surgery, and Norman Coulter, a 6-5 junior who is recovering from a serious ankle sprain, are expected to contribute when they are healthy.

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CONCORDIA 1994-95: 27-7, 9-5 in the GSAC The Eagles most successful season ever ended in a disappointing, 60-57, loss to Fresno Pacific in the championship game of the Golden State Athletic Conference tournament. Craig Martin, an honorable mention NAIA all-American who averaged 16 points and six rebounds and scrappy Sam Sabbara (seven points, four assists) are gone, but Coach Greg Marshall believes his team, which was ranked 16th in the NAIA Division I preseason poll, should still be a contender.

“I think this group has a lot of heart,” Marshall said. “I certainly like our chances as much as any team.”

Three starters--forward Pharoah Jones (18.9 points, five rebounds), forward Jeff Putnam (14.8 points, nine rebounds) and point guard Danny Barajas (nine points, five assists)--and a key reserve--wing Tarik James (11.3 points)--return. Jones, 6-4, will miss the first two weeks of the season with a sprained knee and that is giving 6-6 newcomer Greg O’Hagan, from West Valley Community College, and returning 6-8 reserve Frank Waldschmitt more playing time early in the season.

Transfers Jaime Jaquez, a guard from Moorpark College, and Rick Haywood, a guard from Phoenix College, are also expected to contribute.

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SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA COLLEGE 1994-95: 13-19, 3-11 in the GSAC In his first 11 seasons at SCC, Coach Bill Reynolds never had a team finish with a losing record. Now, Reynolds is trying to stop a streak of two losing seasons in a row.

Reynolds believes the Vanguards will turn the corner with a more athletic team than they have had the last several seasons.

Marlon Watson, a 6-3 forward from Rancho Santiago; Eric Walker, a 6-4 forward from Consumnes River College; and Jason Janeski, a 6-7 center from Eastern Oregon, Rancho Santiago College and Mater Dei High, are among the strong recruits Reynolds brought in. Robert Darville, a 5-11 wing from Long Beach City, should also be a key player after he recovers from an ankle injury.

Returning starters Kevin Carlson, a 6-5 wing, and point guard Mike Guevara are also mobile players. “In time, we will be a better team than we were last year,” Reynolds said. “Hopefully, it will come sooner than later.”

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PACIFIC CHRISTIAN 1994-95: 25-14, 12-1 in CCC After nine seasons at PCC, Lee Erickson took the head coaching job at Cal Baptist, but the Royals will still be led by a veteran coach. Glenn Snyder, who has coached at Bluffton College in Ohio, Fresno Pacific and most recently Bethel College in Wichita, Kan., took over the program in July.

Snyder says the Royals should again be the best team in the California Coastal Conference although Charles Ross, a National Christian College Athletic Assn. All-American, played out his eligibility.

Returning starters Chuck Henderson, a 6-4 junior forward; and Roger Traynham, a 6-5 center, and newcomers, Matt Prince, a freshman guard from Arizona; Lance Brooks, a junior guard from Cypress College; and Jeff Rick, a 6-6 junior forward from Saddleback College, are expected to start.


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