Year one of being eligible for the NCAA Tournament did not go as planned for the California Baptist Lancers. And if you were following along, there were some college basketball writers who held onto receipts all season long as the Lancers struggled to a 17-16 overall record and 8-10 finish in WAC play.
It was a roller coaster of a year for the Lancers. A loss at home to Long Beach State to start the season got things going. There was the win at Washington where the Lancers dominated the first half en route to the big road win. It was arguably the biggest win in the Lancers Division I history. California Baptist followed that up with a pair of overtime losses where missed free throws cost them a pair of wins.
Then, there was an ugly loss at Cal Poly that set things back even further.
Sure, the Lancers beat GCU, had opportunities to beat both Southern Utah and Utah Valley in Riverside and had a dominant win over Seattle U at CBU Events Center. But, the ups and downs were just that…ups and downs.
Now, having to find a new point guard with the departure of Taran Armstrong, what will Rick Croy and his staff do in 2023-24?
Rick Croy, 11th season
At California Baptist
17-16 overall, 8-10 WAC
- Taran Armstrong – Playing professionally in Australia
- Reed Nottage – Eligibility
- Tre Armstrong – Playing professionally in Australia
- Tim Ighoefe – Eligibility
- Riley Battin – Eligibility
- Joe Quintana – Eligibility
- Juhlawnei Stone – Transfer to SFA
- Kendal Coleman – 6’8, Senior, F – LSU
- Dominique Daniels Jr. – 5’10, Sophomore, G – JUCO
- Chris Chiles – 6’4, Sophomore, G – JUCO
- Brantly Stevenson – 6’4, Senior, G – Cal Poly
- Tasman Goodrick – 6’10, Freshman, C
- Tylen Riley – 6’3, Freshman, G
- Jonathan Griman – 6’11, Freshman, C
- Zach Wrightsil – 6’7, Graduate, F – Marquette
- Yvan Ouedraogo – 6’9, Senior, F – GCU
- Blondeau Tchoukueigno – 6’2, Junior, G
- Hunter Goodrick – 6’7, Junior, F
- Scotty Washington – 6’4, Sophomore, G
- Malik Wade – 6’8, Junior, F
It’s year two of being eligible for the NCAA Tournament in Riverside. With it comes a lot of new faces. Will things bode well for the Lancers in 2023-24? One of those new faces is assistant coach Dave Rice. Yes, the same Dave Rice that was an assistant at BYU under Dave Rose, helping lead Jimmer Fredette and the Cougars to the Sweet 16. The same Dave Rice who was the head coach at UNLV for a few years. A great offensive mind that should have an immediate impact on the Lancers.
Croy and his staff brought in a mix of experience and youth. Kendal Coleman and Zach Wrightsil come over from Marquette. Can Wrightsil overcome a season-ending injury in 2022-23 and be the player that averaged 18.7 points per game at the NAIA level in 2021-22?
That is going to be the name of the game for most of the newcomers. One name everyone should recognize is Yvan Ouedraogo. Sure, the stats at GCU don’t necessarily stick out. But, perhaps in a new home and enviroment, he will get the opportunity to be more of an offensive presence. Former Sam Houston head coach Jason Hooten said that Ouedraogo was arguably the best screener in America. If that is the case, knowing the offense that Dave Rice likes to run, that could be a huge advantage for the Lancers.
Two names to keep in mind: Hunter Goodrick and Scotty Washington.
Goodrick had moments in 2022-23 in a larger role than he had at South Dakota. And Washington finally got quality minutes where he showcased his athleticism and ability to score. Both players will have bigger roles in 2023-24 and could be sneaky good if the Lancers have more success this season.
The Lancers, once again, don’t leave Riverside more than two times in the non-conference slate. There is the trip north to Eugene to take on Oregon on Dec. 12. And the only other time they leave the state of California is to ring in the New Year at New Mexico State on Dec. 29 in Las Cruces. The Lancers have just one other true road game against crosstown rival UC Riverside on Dec. 16.
Along with New Mexico State, California Baptist hosts Western Kentucky on Dec. 19 in the other WAC/Conference USA Challenge ball game.
California Baptist hosts its own MTE, which features Cal Poly, St. Thomas and Portland State.
It’s a schedule that could see the Lancers being 6-0 when they head to Cedar City to face Southern Utah on Nov. 29 in the WAC opener.