If you don't work for the RPI index, there's a good chance that the Cal State Northridge Matadors (CSUN) summon up the thought of a Saved by the Bell wrestling squad that A.C. Slater once wrecked shop on. Check your ear guards at the door though, there are no mats in the Matadome. CSUN's flat-roofed facility gets a pass for an inapt nickname because it once served as a setting for two timeless classics, The Karate Kid and Van Wilder.
Matadors coach Bobby Braswell ('07-08 Big West Coach of the Year) is coming off a 20-win season (12-4 conference record)—including a triumvirate share in the regular season conference title—and returns four of his top six scorers. Bobby's most effective bull killer is team-MVP Deon Tresvant, a 6'0" guard that proved to be more productive (13.3 ppg) in his sixth-man role than Van Wilder was in his first six years at Coolidge.
Little league teams and television appearances are not the only figures climbing in Northridge. Tremaine Townsend, conference-declared "Chairman of the Boards," posted league-leading rebound (9.8 per) and blocked-shot numbers (1.3 per) last year. Townsend's defensive utility is complemented in the backcourt by three-year starter, Rob Haynes—a psychology major whose three-point stroke (41.2% on the career) is more on point than Danielson doing the crane.
Sticking with the theme of misleading monikers, the Matadors' defense (get it?) produced the most basketball robberies (274) in the Big West and the twelfth-most in the country in '07-08. Braswell's teams have finished amongst the top 25 in steals in 11 of the last 12 seasons. Such a penchant for taking away opportunities may help CSUN "borrow" some of UNC's spotlight this year. Far chance?
While the Matadome remains quiet, Braswell's bunch is eager to make noise. To assure you of this, they opened up the year by putting the wax-on, wax-off on their first three fries…or foes—La Verne, Carroll College and Cal Lutheran.