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Cal Basketball

Meet Cal Baptist, The Bears’ D1 Newbie Non-Con Opponent

September 13, 2019
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Our other non-con opponent reviews:

Pepperdine

UNLV

About a decade ago, California Baptist University, in Riverside, was an NAIA program. In 2010, the university was accepted into NCAA Division II status and became eligible for the postseason in 2013-2014. Three years later and the Lancers received acceptance to Division I status. The men’s hoops team officially became a D1 team on July 1, 2018 and completed their first season in the Western Athletic Conference last season going 16-15 overall and 7-9 in the WAC.

Don’t let the record or green D1 status full you. Cal Baptist competed in the NCAA DII tournament each year it was eligible to do so and made it to the Elite Eight in 2018. Last season it finished 197 in KenPom standings — 44 spots above our Bears and ahead of the last four teams in the NCAA tourney. The Lancers actually competed in the CBI tournament where they lost 56-55 to Loyola Marymount in the first round.

California Baptist

Last season: 16-15 (7-9), KenPom: 197

2020 Torvik Projection: No. 211, 18-12 (8-8)

Head Coach: Rick Croy

Rick Croy is a Bay Area native and played collegiately at San Francisco State University. He’s coached under Randy Bennett at Saint Mary’s and was tapped to coach the Lancers when they officially began competing for DII NCAA Tourneys. Overall, he’s 148-43 at Cal Baptist and hasn’t had a losing season. 

Since it was Cal Baptist’s first season in D1, there’s not a ton of data out there on them. Last season, they had a slightly above-average offense and a slightly below-average defense and averaged 67.9 possessions per game, which was also … average. They had a top-ten free throw percentage as a team at 77.9% and they were solid at avoiding steals and blocks, but besides that everything else was fairly average.

On defense, they were pretty bad at turning other teams over, getting steals, and blocking shots. They did clog up the lane and were solid at keeping teams from getting easy shots. Opponents averaged 46.9% for two-point shots, which put Cal Baptist in the top-50 for opponent two-point field goal percentage. That’s fairly impressive considering the Lancers very low block percentage. But opponents were also able to shoot better than 35% from three-point range, which was 238th in the country at guarding three-pointers.

Key Returners:

Milan Acquaah, 6-3, JR., 19 pts, 5 rbds, 3.4 assts, 1.6 stls

De’Jon Davis, 6-7, SR., 10.3 pts, 9.2 rbds, 2.6 assts

Ty Rowell, 6-3, JR., 7.7 pts, 1.7 rbds

Milan Acquaah is the name to know here. He was a top-50 player in the nation in shot and usage percentage. When Acquaah was on the court — and that was often — about a third of the Lancers possessions ended with Acquaah. Considering he shot 37.4% from three and 85% from the free-throw line while averaging over three assists a game, that wasn’t a bad thing.

Cal Baptist’s only productive returning forward is De’Jon Davis who will be a senior this year. Last season, he averaged nearly a double-double. At 6-7, Davis played the majority of his time towards the end of the at the five position but also played some four. He’ll be sharing the starting post position with Mike Henn, who 6.4 points and 4.1 rebounds a game.

Lastly, Ty Rowell is one of the Lancers top returning three-point threats as he averaged about 40% from behind the arc while averaging 23 minutes per game. Him and Jeremy Smith, who averaged nearly 43% from three are the two to watch on the perimeter.

Key Losses:

Jordan Heading, 6-2, 15.2 pts, 3.9 rbds, 2.6 assts

Jordan Heading was the lone senior last season and pretty much everyone else is returning. Besides averaging more than 15 points per game, Heading was also second in assists on a team that had one of the lowest assist-to-turnover ratios in the country. He definitely leaves a whole, but Croy has done a solid job of restocking the cubbard with some incoming transfers.

Key Incoming Players:

Brandon Boyd, 6-1, SR., 14.2 pts, 3.6 assts, 2.5 rbds

Ferron Flavors, 6-4, JR., 12.3 pts, 3.6 rbds, 1.1 assts

Snagging Brandon Boyd as a grad transfer was a solid get for Croy this off-season. Boyd was the leading scorer at Idaho State last season while also having the most assists and steals. He was a top-15 scorer in program history at Idaho State and visited Arkansas and Wazzu before deciding on the Lancers. He will be an immediate contributor and likely starter at the point guard position.

Croy also landed Ferron Flavors two years ago and Flavors is now eligible after sitting out per NCAA transfer rules. During his only season of college ball at Fairfield, Flavors averaged more than 31 points a game while pouring in an average of 12.3 points and 3.6 rebounds per game. 

The Lancers have a very experienced team that will feature seven juniors and seniors getting significant minutes. It will be interesting to see how Croy balances a roster made up of guys used to getting 25+ or 30+ minutes a game. Either way, the Bears are projected to win this game in the Torvik projections. It won’t be as easy as it could be with one of the newest D1 teams in the country, but the Bears should get it done at the Haas.

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