High hopes for hoopers: Men’s basketball

Fall is finally here, which means it’s time to break out those winter coats and prepare for another exciting season of Chico State men’s basketball.

Lofty aspirations abound as the Wildcats look to build upon the success of their impressive 2012-13 campaign.

Amir Carraway, a senior on the Chico State men’s basketball team, has sorely missed the experience of playing in front of the home crowd.

“I can’t wait to play in front of the Chico State students and locals this year,” Carraway said. “I take pride in trying to establish a home court, so every time I lace up my shoes this year, I want them to know that I’m going to bring it.”

Carraway, a Second-Team All-California Collegiate Athletic Association selection in 2012-13, said his team has improved considerably since last season, due in no small part to their time spent together on and off the court.

“I think, as a whole, our team has improved through experience,” Carraway said. “We have a lot of guys returning who have been in our system and know what we’re about. But most importantly, they have played together for two years or more.”

After finishing last season with a 19-11 overall record, the men’s basketball team will look to produce a sequel to last year’s stellar showing.

The ’Cats have achieved considerable success in recent years, with the previous two seasons ending in NCAA Championship tournament berths. The waning days of the 2011-12 campaign also marked the first postseason victory for the Chico State men’s basketball team since 1994.

However, in order to stay ranked with the upper echelon of competition, the team will have to stand toe-to-toe with this season’s toughest matchups, Carraway said.

“I’m a big fan of competition, and in order to be the best, you have to play the best,” Carraway said. “I’m most looking forward to playing Seattle Pacific and Cal Poly Pomona. They are well-coached and work hard. Last year, Seattle Pacific came into our gym on the second night of the Mac Martin Tournament and completely wrecked us. It definitely left a bad taste in our mouths, and we haven’t forgotten about it.”

It’s important to stay ambitious, said Jordan Barton, a junior member of Chico State’s men’s basketball team. As a fourth-year player, Barton is eager to make good on the goals that his team has established for the season.

“Goals always change throughout a season,” Barton said. “But this year we plan on being one of the best defensive teams in the country while running a new type of offense. We are settling for nothing less than the best this year, and I am looking forward to showing the rest of the league how our team has changed from previous years.”

Drew Kitchens, a sophomore, has set the bar high for his team this season. As a redshirt freshman who started 28 games in 2012-13, Kitchens has seen enough to know this team has a combination of experience and talent.

“I’m looking forward to seeing Chico State raising a league championship banner and making a run in the NCAA tournament,” Kitchens said. “We have set some big goals for our team, but most of all, we believe in ourselves.”

The Chico State men’s basketball season tips off at home against Holy Names University on Saturday, Nov. 9 at 1 p.m. Individual tickets are available for $9.

 

Taylor Maddox can be reached at [email protected] or @theorion_sports on Twitter.