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‘Cats find success at away games

Nick Martinez-Esquibel

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Chico State’s Tanner Giddings, center, jumps for the ball in a game against Sonoma State on Saturday. Photo credit: Caio Calado

While most students got to take a load off during break, the Chico State men’s basketball team was working toward a third consecutive NCAA tournament appearance at the end of the season.

Returning from winter break, the Wildcats have a 8-5 (5-3 in conference) record, which puts them in fourth place in the California Collegiate Athletic Association. The Wildcats are on the hunt for a third consecutive berth into the NCAA tournament.

The 6-3 conference record could very well be 7-1, according to assistant coach Lucas Gabriel.

“We’re two possessions away from being 7-1. We lost to Stanislaus on a game-winning shot and to Humboldt State on a game-winning shot, so I think we’re going about our business the right way,” Gabriel said.

The two losses seem to have been forgotten as the Wildcats are confident heading into the bulk of the schedule and have the record to back it up.

“Our recipe has been proven over the last seven years since coach (Greg) Clink has taken over,” Gabriel said, “We just need to go about our business and the result will be what we want it to be.”

Since Clink has taken over as head coach for the men’s basketball team, it has accumulated a 107-72 regular season record.

Clink was also honored as the California Collegiate Athletic Association Coach of the Year last season.

One thing that the team has been doing so far is win away games. The team has a 6-1 record on the road, compared to a 3-4 record at home. Clink said that he attributes it to the ‘Cats playing some really good opponents and having a young team that play inconsistently at times.

The records of their opponents seems to be the key reason why the Wildcats are so successful on the road. However, they average more points and a better shooting percentage at home.

Teams that the Wildcats have played at home have a combined 43-27 record, including the 15-1 Azusa Pacific Cougars. That team was the best that they have faced so far, Clink said.

On the road, their opponents are a combined 49-47, but the road comes with other challenges such as traveling, unfamiliar environments and the crowd rooting against the team.

Even though the ‘Cats face all this adversity, Clink said that he does not do anything different to get the team ready for road games.

“There is no difference in terms of how we prepare for the road,” Clink said. “We go through the same process every week in preparing and scouting our opponent and getting our team ready to play.”

Although the preparation might be the same, playing the actual game on the road is in fact a lot different than playing at home, said Mike Rosaroso, senior guard.

Besides the travel and unfamiliar surroundings, playing on the road is not just playing the other team, but also playing against the crowd, Rosaroso said.

Even though this is a disadvantage when they are on the road, the ‘Cats use the crowd’s energy to their advantage when they’re at home.

“There’s no better feeling than hitting a big shot in front of your home crowd,” Clink said. “When we have a lot of people in the stands, it’s a fun and exciting atmosphere and they enjoy it.”

Both coaches said that Cal Poly Pomona and Humboldt State were the two toughest places to play in their conference. The Wildcats stole a victory from Cal Poly Pomona in their own house, winning 51-50 on their first game back from break. They will travel to Humboldt State later in the season on Feb. 14.

Nick Martinez can be reached at [email protected] or @THENickMartinez on Twitter.

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‘Cats find success at away games