After winning the program’s first Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SCIAC) title last season, the men’s basketball team’s goal is to do it all over again.
“I think realistic expectations would be to win conference and go to the NCAA tournament,” said senior guard Colin Zavrsnick.
Zavrsnick, along with senior guard Taylor Hamasaki, will have to be the driving force behind any conference championship repeat hopes. Zavrsnick led the SCIAC in scoring, averaging 18.7 per-game, while Hamasaki was third in the conference averaging 18 per-game.
The duo graced the All-SCIAC teams last season, with Zavrsnick on the first team and Hamasaki on the second. Zavrsnick was also named to d3hoops.com’s preseason All-American team, earning third team honors.
Hamasaki, who has averaged in double-figures each of the last two years, knows that if Chapman wants to win the SCIAC Championship, the team can’t let the success get to its heads.
“We just got to keep up our effort, that’s all it is,” Hamasaki said. “We can’t think we are just going to roll over teams; we just got to keep up our effort and intensity.”
Head coach Mike Bokosky, who will most likely earn his 400th win at Chapman sometime this season, agreed with this sentiment.
“We’ve got to stay away from being complacent, arrogant and conceited,” Bokosky said. “What we are is an offensive team, I think statistically we were top one or two in almost every category, but we were next to last in defense. Our shortcoming will be the defensive end.”
Playing better defense sparked Chapman’s run at the end of last season, but there are no guarantees that Chapman can recreate that defensive success.
“Every season stands alone. You would like to think that you could pick up right where you left off but you can’t,” Bokosky said.
Along with Zavrsnick and Hamasaki, Chapman returns two other starters: senior center John Joyce and senior guard Garrett James. James led the Panthers and was third in SCIAC with 3.8 assists-per-game, while Joyce averaged 9.3 points-per-game.
Chapman will have to replace Nick Dragovic, who averaged in double-figures and was the team’s leading rebounder. Senior forwards and twins Jordan Young and Justin Young will likely see an uptick in minutes, filling in Dragovic’s role last season. Justin Young was the sixth man last season, playing in every game and averaging more than 20 minutes-per-game, while Jordan Young played nine minutes a game.
After starting 10 games as a freshman and 24 as a sophomore, Jordan Young said he is motivated to make more of an impact this season.
“One name comes to mind, Jordan Young,” Hamasaki said when asked of a player that had impressed him this off-season. “I’ve seen a lot of fire in his eyes, he really wants to get his minutes back and become a threat, I can see it every day in practice.”
Chapman, who lost an exhibition game to UC Irvine 87-36 Friday, will open the counting season at West Coast Baptist Wednesday, Nov. 19 at 7:30 p.m.