Men’s basketball coach Rod Barnes is downplaying any thought that Cal State Bakersfield is feeling pressure after winning last season’s Western Athletic Conference Tournament championship.

“We’re really trying to build our program,” Barnes said last week during the WAC basketball media day in Denver, an interview re-broadcast Tuesday during the Roadrunner Rundown webcast on

“For us, it’s one step at a time, and we made a big step last year,” Barnes said. “We just want to build on it. I think our team is more excited and driven than feeling pressure.”

Off-season work focused on improving outside shooting, Barnes said.

“Some of our guards, particularly Brent Wrapp and Justin Pride, did not shoot the ball well for us last year,” Barnes said. “Jaylin Airington shoots well from the field but not from the 3-point line.”

All three have improved, he said.

Women’s coach Greg McCall also said off-season work has improved his returning players.

Conditioning has been emphasized, and McCall said he likes what he’s seeing.

“Being able to defend for the whole 40 minutes and not worrying about quick subbing will help us prepare for when we get into postseason,” McCall said. “And it keeps the injuries down.”

Scrimmages include car giveaway

CSUB’s basketball teams will hold their annual Blue-Gold games on Thursday in the Icardo Center, starting at 7 p.m. The scrimmages are open to the public free of charge.

A drawing will be held for a fan to try to make a halfcourt shot; if the shot’s good, that fan wins a 2017 Hyundai Elantra automobile.

The men’s team will participate in a dunk contest, and the women’s team will have a 3-point shooting contest.

Several earn WAC honors

CSUB outside hitter Carol Grasso has been named WAC Volleyball Player of the Week. She had 17 kills, a season-high 22 digs and four aces vs. Utah Valley on Friday, then 20 kills, 14 digs and seven aces vs. Seattle on Saturday.

Carlee Burks has been named WAC Diver of the Week for the 11th time in her career. She won the 3-meter board in 269.90 at last weekend’s Malibu Invitational.

Angel Valdez became the first CSUB winner of the WAC Cross Country Runner of the Week since CSUB joined the WAC in 2013. An East High graduate, Valdez was third at the Pomona-Pitzer Invitational with a 22:19.1 over the 6-kilometer course. That’s a CSUB Division I record.

Wrestling exhibition Saturday

The Manny Rivera era for CSUB wrestling will begin Saturday with the annual Blue-Gold intrasquad meet, which begins at 5 p.m. in the Icardo Center.

Rivera is starting his first season as CSUB’s coach. Predecessor Mike Mendoza left CSUB to become the head coach at Boise State.

The official season opener is Nov. 5, with a home meet vs. Cal Baptist starting at 6 p.m.

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