Before the regular season starts, Chapman’s men’s basketball team had a chance to get warmed up for the season when it took on the visiting Afghanistan national team Friday night. The Panthers were defeated in an exhibition loss 54-48, as they begin to search for a solid starting lineup.
Starting the season without a number of graduated players, most notably point guard Brandon Lin, the Panthers couldn’t find a rhythm. Chapman started the game well offensively looking smooth and collected, but as the game wore on, slowed down.
“Our offense got stagnant and people stopped moving around,” said senior forward Colin Chadwick.
In the second half, the Panthers shot a poor 25 percent and committed six turnovers, allowing Afghanistan to outscore them 31-22.
After halftime, Head Coach Mike Bokosky told players they needed to attack the rim. The team focused on passing and penetration, and shot 21 free throws. Yet, the players were unable to take advantage of the opportunity, making only 11. Senior guard Takeshi Clifford led the Panthers with 11 points on 3-8 shooting, adding seven rebounds and two assists. Overall it was a poor shooting performance from the Panthers, who only shot 34 percent from the field.
The game was close in the final minutes, but the Panthers were unable to capitalize on their opportunities. With a couple minutes left in regulation, the Panthers switched their defense to a full court press to force turnovers. The technique was successful, but once again the Panthers were unable to get shots off. Chapman came into the season with only six upperclassmen, which is a factor Bokosky thinks will define the season.
“We have to find out who our top five to seven guys are on this team,” he said. “Once we find them, we’ll move on and emphasize those guys.”
For the upperclassmen, being on a young team has its growing pains.
“We have a lot of talent on our team but we just made some young mistakes,” Clifford said. “We just have to get it together and hopefully mature quickly.”
The team hopes they can mature while also staying competitive in tough games. Like other Chapman teams, the basketball team is now part of the SCIAC, a new conference and schedule that changes the dynamic of the season.
Before joining the SCIAC, each game was essentially a league game, which meant there wasn’t as much time to grow or experiment with new techniques. But in the SCIAC, winning in January ends up determining who will end up in the playoffs. The post-season players will be the top four teams in the conference. The top four teams make the post-season tournament and get a shot at the title. “We just need to get tougher,” Bokosky said. “Hopefully we’ll learn and will become a good team down the road.”
The Panthers open their season at home against La Sierra Thursday at 7:30 p.m.