After the 2014-2015 season, the men’s basketball team at California Baptist University has made it a mission to reach the NCAA Division II playoffs. The No. 4-ranked team is off to a strong start with an overall record of 8-1. Contributing to the team’s success is Michael Smith.
Smith showcased his talents as the team played against California State, East Bay Nov. 14 with a final score of 84 to 68. Smith scored points and he stayed on his opponent on defense the whole game. He was swift to run where he needed to go and was one of the fastest players.
Smith, junior business administration major and guard, was recently named the PacWest Player of the Week. This season alone, he has averaged 20.6 points per game, making an impact on the team.
Smith is no stranger to basketball, as he has been playing the sport since he was 8 years old.
“My older brother plays basketball, so I kind of just walked in his footsteps,” Smith said.
He said he stays motivated by people in his support system and that he and his teammates work to achieve a common goal: to be named national champions.
“I stay motivated by my family, coach Rick Croy and my teammates,” Smith said. “Just letting the game come to me, not trying to force any shots. I run the offense, not try to go outside of my game.”
Croy, head coach of the men’s basketball team, said Smith is a great player.
Croy stressed how hard Smith works to prepare for games and said no player prepares the way Smith does.
“He’s a tremendous competitor in fitness and preparation,” Croy said. “I have only coached a few who prepare the way that he does.”
Smith’s strength showed recently in a matchup against New Mexico Highlands University Nov. 28, where he finished with a team-high 19 points. Smith kept the momentum in favor of the Lancers, reaching for every rebound and converting on the counterattack. The Lancers won the game 95-63.
Averaging 30 minutes per game and a total of 275 minutes on the season so far, Smith proves to be a valuable asset to the team. Smith currently leads the team in stats. Alhough Smith may be a strong player, Croy said he still has room to grow.
“There is no question he is rounding out his game,” Croy said. “He is a complete player and he still has a lot of room to get better.”
Smith and the rest of the team will begin PacWest play Dec. 3 against Dixie State University and will move on to play rival Azuza Pacific University Dec. 5.
The team has shown consistent success on the season so far, and will ride the success for the duration of the season.