Cal State Bakersfield head coach Rod Barnes has had the upcoming Great Alaska Shootout marked on his mental calendar since before the season even started.
The tournament — held in Anchorage, Alaska — is notable because it’s the last edition of the longest-running regular season college basketball tournament. And it’s a chance for the Roadrunners to simulate conference tournament play with three games in four days.
But for Barnes, it’s important because once it’s over with, he’s hoping to have his rotation of players set.
“Once we come back from Alaska, then we’ll probably hone in, we’ll probably know for sure this is what we’re trying to do,” Barnes said at his first weekly press conference of the year, regarding when he’ll set a rotation.
The Roadrunners (2-2) open the Great Alaska Shootout at 9 p.m. on Wednesday against tournament host Alaska Anchorage. CSUB will play either Idaho or Santa Clara in the second round on either Thursday or Friday. The third game will be played Saturday.
“A couple of those younger guys, we’re still trying to figure them out,” Barnes said, “and because we have three games in four days here i think we’ll be able to define their roles a little bit more.”
Through the first four games of the season, Barnes has been tinkering with his current set of players.
Center Fallou Ndoye started the first game but Moataz Aly has started the last three. The two have been inconsistent. Aly scored 15 points the first game and two the second. Ndoye was scoreless in the first game and then scored 13 in the second.
James Suber, a 13-game starter last year who’s been injured all this season, should be healthy in about a week and will add depth to a group down low that could be CSUB’s most experienced, Barnes said.
Redshirt junior Damiyne Durham, known for providing a scoring boost off the bench, made his first and only career start at No. 3 Arizona on Nov. 16. Barnes wanted to add experience to the starting group and open up the floor for the offense.
On Sunday at Lamar, junior college transfer Rickey Holden took over starting point guard duties from third-year starter Brent Wrapp, who played off the ball. Wrapp is still getting used to playing with first-year players Holden and freshman Jarkel Joiner.
“On the floor, we’re still figuring out our minutes and sort of who fits well with who and who we need to play at what times,” Wrapp said. “I think by the end of the three games we’ll be in a pretty good shape of sort of knowing what to expect from everyone as teammates and coaches.”
Wrapp, Joiner, Holden, Durham, Aly, Ndoye and senior guard/forward Shon Briggs are all going to get a significant amount of time. The real unknown comes with redshirt freshmen forward Greg Lee and guard/forward Justin Davis and freshman guard/forward Justin McCall.
Davis has played 52 minutes over the four games and has made a big play in each one, Wrapp said. He got a steal, layup and drew a foul in a matter of seconds late in the game against Lamar on Sunday to preserve the win.
Davis has made the biggest move toward cementing himself in the rotation, Barnes said.
McCall didn’t play Sunday but Barnes still sees a role for him moving forward. Lee only played two minutes partially because he recorded two fouls in that time.
“Those guys are gonna have to play in this tournament, which is a good thing for us,” Barnes said. “I‘m hoping that they're ready. Hopefully they can help us win cause you always would like to learn and win instead of losing and learning.”
Women’s basketball to host Cal State Fullerton on Wednesday
The Roadrunners will have their second home game of the season on Wednesday, hosting Cal State Fullerton at the Icardo Center at 7 p.m. CSUB is 1-3 after losses to San Jose State and Stanford. Fullerton is 1-2 on the year with two straight losses to Pacific and San Diego State.