BY JEFF EVANS Californian staff writer firstname.lastname@example.org
There's something special about opening night.
Cal State Bakersfield's basketball programs will experience that tonight when the men and women hold their season openers at the Icardo Center.
Where: Icardo Center
Who: Men vs. Texas-Arlington, 6 p.m.; women vs. Arizona, 8:30 p.m.
Radio: Men's game, KERN (1180 AM)
Notes: CSUB men are 28-13 all-time in season openers, but have lost five in a row. Their last win was in 2005-06, their final season in Division II. ... The CSUB women are 2-3 in home openers and 2-3 in season openers since the 2007-08 season.
"It's what you signed up for," said CSUB senior guard-forward Tyrone White, who led CSUB with 54 3-pointers last season. "The adrenaline gets pumping. You barely sleep at night. It's a good day to be a Roadrunner."
The men will play host to Texas-Arlington at 6 p.m., with the CSUB women hosting Arizona at 8:30 p.m.
"It is exciting," CSUB second-year coach Rod Barnes said. "You're antsy, there's uncertainty, but there's the excitement you have. You've been waiting since the end of last season to get to this point. Hopefully you come together as a team."
One key Roadrunner will be with his teammates but won't play. Senior point guard Issiah Grayson underwent arthrosporic right knee surgery over the summer and has been slow to recover, so he'll sit out the season as a redshirt and return for the 2013-14 season when the Roadrunners begin competing in the Western Athletic Conference.
Barnes said senior Zach Lamb, who is comfortable at the point or off-guard, will take over as the starting point guard.
Grayson has resumed practicing, but Barnes said the preference is for Grayson to continue to strengthen his knee.
"We didn't want to take a chance," Barnes said. "I'm watching out for our kids. That's the first thing."
CSUB went 16-15 last season, the first winning record for men's basketball in the institution's Division I era.
Arlington went 24-9 last season with a 15-1 regular-season record in the Southland Conference. The Mavericks, however, lost in the conference tournament and did not receive a bid into the NCAA Tournament. Arlington played in the NIT instead and lost at Washington.
Arlington has joined the WAC this season, but it's only a one-year arrangement. The Mavericks will move to the Sun Belt Conference next season.
The Roadrunner women had a tuneup Monday, a 115-79 exhibition win over NCAA Division II Fresno Pacific, a team CSUB outmanned and dominated.
Arizona figures to be a bit tougher, and the Roadrunners will likely be missing two players who were injured in the Fresno Pacific exhibition.
Senior forward Lauren Carter, who was third in scoring and second in rebounding last season, tweaked a knee and did not practice this week.
Carter said after Thursday’s practice she is waiting for an MRI to learn the extent of the injury. Coach Greg McCall says her status tonight is uncertain.
Freshman guard Shahana Zeigler crashed to the floor violently Monday and dislocated her right shoulder, McCall said. She won’t play tonight but should return soon, McCall said.
Arizona went 15-17 overall and 3-15 in the Pac-12 last season. The Wildcats started 5-0 and 11-1 before conference play began a year ago.
“It will be a good test for us, and a good test for them,” McCall said. “I know they’re wondering what we have over here.”
The Roadrunners had an injury-plagued season a year ago and finished 7-22.
“It’s always good to face that kind of competition,” McCall said. “The Pac-12 is known nationally for women’s basketball and always has good competition, from Stanford on down.”