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Chico State's independent student newspaper

The Orion

Wildcats enter season highly ranked by NCAA

Freshman Jalen McFerren gets around senior Mike Rosaroso during a practice early last week. Photo credit: John Domogma

Last season ended at the NCAA Elite Eight in Indianapolis for Chico State’s men’s basketball team, after losing by 15 to University of South Carolina Aiken. Fresh off that historic appearance, the Wildcats come into the new season ranked 15th in the nation by the NCAA Division II preseason coaches poll.

“It’s a nice honor and it’s nice for the university to be recognized nationally,” said Greg Clink, the men’s head basketball coach. “I’m not big on preseason predictions but it’s a feather in our cap and it shows that people have taken notice on what we have been able to do the last few years.”

This season’s squad will carry only three seniors, the team’s fewest since the 2011-12 season when it sported only two.

“Every year we ask the new crop of seniors to step up and accept leadership roles,” Clink said. “Mike Rosaroso has been doing a good job in trying to lead this group and Jordan Semple is returning as one of the premier players in the conference and there’s a lot on his shoulders.”

Rosaroso enters the season as the starting point guard and enjoys his new role on the team. Last season he played in 23 games, starting two of those contests.

“Our team this year is pretty inexperienced, so it’s my role to be the point guard and lead the team,” Rosaroso said. “This is probably the best team I’ve been a part of with all the new guys. I take it on and appreciate it.”

Semple, forward, averaged 13 points and eight rebounds his junior year. He played in 33 games and started in 15.

“I’m trying to shoot more 3’s this season and I’m going to play a little more wing rather than power forward,” Semple said. “I’ll be running more and I won’t be taking the ball out of bounds as much this year.”

Semple said he knows he’s going to get doubled-teamed more this year and he already has a plan in place to counterattack other teams’ aggressive defenses.

“There’s definitely going to be some focus on me,” Semple said. “What I’m going to try to do in the beginning of the season is to over-pass my teammates who haven’t played yet so they can become threats. Then when they come into their own and become threats, teams won’t able to double-team me.”

Defense is also going to be a key focus for Semple this season.

“I’m going to be the defensive captain and the most vocal person on the defensive side of the floor, making sure everybody is in their right spots,” Semple said. “Mike and I are going to fulfill that role together.”

Chico State opens its season at the Sonoma State Ron Logsdon Basketball Classic Nov. 14. The preseason ranking brings certain recognition to what this team has been able to do. But it doesn’t impress Semple.

“I never look at the rankings,” Semple said. “I don’t care and it absolutely means nothing. We went to the Elite Eight and still weren’t ranked in the top 25. They will do the pre-rank for the league too and they are wrong every year. If anything, those hurt you because it puts you in a high ranking and you think you’re good and you don’t come ready to play, and a team sneaks up on you and beats you. It’s flattering because at least you’re getting a little bit of respect. But I don’t think about that.”

Angelo Boscacci can be reached at [email protected] or @boscacci6 on Twitter.

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