Battling their way to success

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Jessica Bills -- CBU’s Connor Isley scouts court for teammate assistance.

“Successful” is the word senior Justus von Wright used to describe the 2011-2012 men’s basketball season.

On Wednesday, Nov. 2, California Baptist University’s men’s basketball team kicked off the season with an exhibition game against University of California, Irvine. Though that night ended in a loss, it was one of 5 of the 15 games they played, as of Feb. 10. Two of those losses do not count against them, as it was an exhibition.

Amid being the first CBU team to enter the Pacific West Conference and already with dominance, what makes men’s basketball stand out against the other teams is the support of the CBU family.

“My experience at CBU has been more than I could ever imagine,” Josh Deanne, senior center, said. “I have never been in an environment like this. I have a team who is my family and a coach who never gives up on me. I can honestly look anyone in the eye and tell them I am truly blessed.”

Though this is Deanne’s first year at CBU, he will leave always remembering his last year of college basketball.

The men’s team reached some extraordinary accomplishments this season. On Jan. 19, they fell one game short of tying a school record of consecutive wins. The Lancers were defeated by Hawaii Pacific, bringing their record to 11-2. The squad in 1975-1976 set the best start in program history, which was 12-1.

Coach Collins reached his 600th win as a collegiate head coach against Hawaii Pacific on Jan. 30.

“That was definitely one of my favorite moments so far this season,” von Wright said. “That and when Coach Collins reached his 600th win. Being able to be a part of our coach’s huge accomplishment was something I will never forget.”

Von Wright also commented on Collins’ success with nothing but praises.

“Coach knows the game down to a ‘T,’” von Wright said. “He’s like a basketball encyclopedia. The main reason I came to CBU was because I heard he was one of the best coaches around. He deserves every accolade that has and will come his way.”

These seniors speak for the rest of their teammates by saying success is great, but it is not the main thing that drives them to be better on and off the court.

“I think our success come from all of us agreeing with the idea that we are a unit of men who are playing for the front of their jerseys rather than the name on the back,” Deanne said.

The team recently returned from their long journey to Hawaii and dominated the islands, leaving with three out of four wins. With seven games left, not including the National Christian College Athletic Association national tournament, they have a chance to make a bigger name for themselves.

“I believe this team has already made history,” von Wright said. “I feel like I have been on a ‘high’ this whole season because of how our team works and what we do when we get on the court.”

Lancer sports will only go up from the multiple national titles in the fall to the record breaking games in the winter. The teams now are setting the standard for future CBU teams.

“The future is going to be really bright for the men’s team. If Coach keeps recruiting players who buy into his system and trust that it works, there will be no problem for teams to break even more records,” von Wright said.

Not only can this group of guys back up their talk on the court, the records and stats can also.

As a word to future recruits, Deanne said, “If you’re looking for an opportunity to grow and play basketball the RIGHT way, this is the place for you.”

CBU men’s basketball has proven they do not only play to win but they also play for the experience and for each other. Read more and follow the men as they end the season at www.cbulancers.com.

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