Men’s basketball freshman to pounce on challenges

Chico State basketball player Jalen McFerren, left, sets up the offense with guard Mike Rosaroso, right, playing defense. Photo credit: John Domogma

Basketball season is almost here, and with that comes new challenges for the Chico State men’s basketball team. The Orion caught up with four freshmen from the team who are expected to take on some of these challenges.

The Orion: How does it feel to know that you will be making an impact with the team as a freshman?

Jalen McFerren, Castro Valley High School, guard, business major: It’s a really good feeling. It’s a humbling experience. It’s pressure but I feel good going into the season that I’ll have a role anyway I can contribute; something new, I don’t know what to expect yet, but I’m looking forward to it.

Isaiah Ellis, Antelope High School, forward, undeclared: I mean, it feels good. It’s a little bit overwhelming but to know that I can have an impact on this team and do a lot to make this team good and help this team succeed in the long run, it feels good.

Corey Silverstrom, Bullard High School, guard, undeclared: It feels good, coming here right away. Redshirting last year — that’s how they do it in the program — so being able to step in as a freshman and being able to help a team after we lost all those seniors and everyone last year is big for me. I feel like I’m ready for it and I’m excited.

Tyler Harris, Air Force Academy Prep, guard, kinesiology: I’m just hoping I can come in and contribute whatever, as far as the team gives me. It’s a good feeling for sure. Just the fact that I’ve put in my time now, I can finally get on the court.

The Orion: What have you been doing personally to prepare for the upcoming season?

McFerren: Just watching as much film as I can with the coaches to learn the new concepts. (I’m) trying to build chemistry with the teammates. Just trying to get extra work on the side, get my shot right — little things that can help in anyway.

Ellis: Typical things (the coach) has us do, besides practice. Everything else, I’m at least in the gym getting shots up working on my game to ultimately better myself and the team in the long run. But you know, just staying on top of not only my game but the school as well is also a main concern.

Silverstrom: Just a lot of individual workouts. I mean just coming into the gym, getting up shots and then ball handling. I mean, just trying to stay as much conditioned as I can. So just getting in extra work on my own and that’s it.

Harris: Just kind of knowing everything that we’re going to be running. As far as knowing the intricacy of the offense and the defense, just trying to stay on top of everything so when I go in, I can just know exactly what we’re trying to do out there on the court.

The Orion: What are your goals — individually and with the team — for this season?

McFerren: I want to get back to being the regional champ. I (want to) win the (California Collegiate Athletic Association) this year. Those are the team goals that we have. I think this team is going to be really good. It’s hard for me to really gauge what the competition is like because I haven’t seen it, but I think we’ll do well this year.

Ellis: For myself, just to continue getting better at my sport and my skill. Just to basically be the best that I can be for my team and off the court as well. The goal for the team (is) to make it back to the NCAA tournament, go further than (the) Elite Eight and win it all, and just have a great time with this wonderful group of men.

Silverstrom: For myself, I want to make an impact as a freshman. I just want to make sure that I’m doing whatever I need to do to get the W for my team. I don’t really care about my stats — I just want to make sure that I’m doing my part to get the W, and whatever that is I’ll do it. And for the team, I want to make sure we keep on working as hard as we can and get the championship.

Harris: I don’t really have any individual goals. I just want to help our team win as many games as possible every way I can help, that’s it.

The Orion: What are some of the things that the older guys have been telling you to prepare for the season?

McFarren: To prepare, they’ve been telling me to come in every day, just embrace it, don’t go through the motions. Stay mentally into it, and keep grinding. The season is coming up real quick so you don’t have a lot of time to waste. So they just tell me to keep working, get your rest (and) eat right, little things like that.

Ellis: Just to continue playing hard (is what) I always get from the three seniors that we have. They just continue to tell me (to) work, get better and keep practicing, keep getting as competitive. It’s the same thing pretty much the whole time.

Silverstrom: Just to stay poised. I take in what Drew and Mike, what they say to me all the time, because they’ve been through it for four to five years already. So making sure I’m on a stance on defense and just making sure I do what the coach says.

Harris: A lot of them have been telling me, “You know, you’re going to have ups, you’re going to have downs,” so I’ve just been getting ready for that. There’s going to be good games, there’s going to be bad games, and they know that firsthand.

The Orion: What sort of challenges are you expecting for your first season?

McFerren: Some of the challenges for me as a point guard (are) chemistry; not playing with the other guys as much as I’m accustomed to in the past with my former teams. Adjusting to the level of speed. What I’ve noticed so far is that I got winded quicker, the game is a lot faster and our offense is high paced. So those are just a couple of things. Also with nerves, I know the first game is going to be tough. Just being nervous and trying not to mess up.

Ellis: Personally, just making sure my body is able to withstand all these practices and conditioning that we’ve been doing. It’s been a little hard for the first couple weeks of official practices, just with a lot of getting banged up and bruised by each other, but that’s probably the number one challenge I’ve been having so far.

Silverstrom: Probably adversity. Since we’re a young team, we haven’t really gotten a lot of games under our belt together. So I mean if things go our way, we just have to be able to respond and keep fighting back and just be able to handle adversity, I think is the biggest challenge for us.

Harris: I just feel like we’re going to play really tough teams. We always have a really tough schedule so it’s going to be on us every single day to be ready to play.

The Orion: What is your ideal way to end the season?

McFerren: Holding up a national championship — that would be picture perfect.

Ellis: With another banner in the gym, another trophy in the office and another smile across Chico State.

Silverstrom: National championship and a banner in the gym.

Harris: Another Elite Eight, and hopefully another national championship, that’s the goal.

Jose Olivar can be reached at [email protected] or @jpu_olivar on Twitter.