Cal State Bakersfield head coach Greg McCall has fielded many calls regarding his team recently.
Some of the calls have been to praise the Roadrunners 46th-best scoring defense in the country. People have asked how they've been able to keep opposing teams off the board, McCall said.
Other calls have been to express words of encouragement, McCall said, with people telling him that despite the struggles, his team is going to be all right.
The Roadrunners (3-6) are in a rut, having lost three games in a row. The offense has been the primary culprit, averaging just 48 points per game in CSUB’s last three contests. CSUB will try to put a stop to both negative trends when it returns home to face Division III Whittier College on Saturday at 4 p.m. in the Icardo Center.
The Roadrunners men’s basketball team will play Georgia Southern prior to the women’s game with tip off at 2 p.m.
“It’s always important to get a win, especially here on your home floor,” McCall said. “... Right now, we’re in a nice little slump and so that’s why I’m gonna call it a slump. When we come out of that slump we’re gonna be pretty darn good.”
CSUB’s offense has failed to show up a few times this season. It was never more apparent than the start of the losing streak at Southern Methodist on Nov. 27.
In that game, the Roadrunners scored just 29 points and lost by 12. CSUB had just two players make more than one field goal. Aja Williams was 5-for-16 from the floor and 2-for-9 from 3. Dalis Jones was 2-for-5 overall and 2-for-3 from beyond the arc. The rest of the team was a combined 3-for-31.
The paltry offense overshadowed a defense that held the Mustangs scoreless in the second quarter — a rare feat. SMU’s Mackenzie Adams, who has scored 38 points in a game this season, was held to five points. But CSUB didn’t score for the final seven minutes of the game and squandered a 26-24 lead it had to start the final quarter.
One game later, CSUB lost to UC Riverside. The Roadrunners pulled within three with 32 seconds left but never got another shot off.
Most recently, the Roadrunners lost 66-50 at South Dakota. CSUB gave up 12 straight points to start the game and trailed by as much as 28.
“We’re struggling a little bit to be able to score, but I can tell it’s one of those things where we’re playing the heck out of some defense,” McCall said. “And we’ve hung our hat a lot on defense before.”
The problem, McCall said, is that his offense has been running in the half court against other teams’ defenses too much. The Roadrunners aren’t able to get fastbreak or transition baskets.
And while CSUB is doing fine at manufacturing shots in the half court offense, the players aren’t knocking them down, McCall said. The Roadrunners are shooting 29 percent over the last three games.
“We’re getting those open looks, we just got to do a good job of burying them now,” McCall said.
CSUB’s 8.3 assists per game is the worst among all 345 Division I teams. Its scoring offense, averaging 51.8 points per game for the season, is 342nd.
The defense has been consistent and is giving up a conference-best 57.4 points per game.
McCall isn’t in panic mode yet and thinks the offense is coming along. He saw improvements in the three losses, he said. He’s confident that in time, the offense and the wins will turn in CSUB’s favor. He’s hoping it starts as soon as Saturday.
“I’ve talked to a lot of coaches about scoring slumps,” McCall said. “We just hit ours early. So when we do come out of that slump, it’s gonna be really dangerous.”