Cal State Bakersfield men’s basketball coach Rod Barnes has a similar conversation with his team every year. This season, sophomore guard Jarkel Joiner took special note of it.
“Try to find ways to affect the game in a positive way without scoring,” Joiner remembered Barnes saying.
The Roadrunners have several players known for their ability to tally points. Joiner was fourth in the nation his senior year at Oxford (Mississippi) High School. Point guard Rickey Holden dropped 25 and 43 points on current NBA player Devin Booker and former Kansas star Malik Newman in high school, according to Holden’s former high school coach.
But the Roadrunners, under Barnes, are known for their defense. And Barnes isn’t looking for players to win games with just baskets. He also isn’t hoping for solely lockdown defenders, though.
As CSUB heads to South Dakota for a 1:30 p.m. game on Saturday, Barnes wants to see more of his players having complete performances on both ends of the court.
“To have the success we want to have, we got to have more two-way players,” Barnes said. “What I mean by that is guys that can impact the game on both ends of the floor help us win on both ends of the floor. And not if you don't have a good offensive night, you're not very good, or if you don't have a good defensive night, you don't play a big role.”
The ones already playing well as two-way players are Holden and Joiner, Barnes said. They’re the two on-ball defenders. Holden has been the most consistent since he got to CSUB and still is, Joiner said, because he’s level-headed.
Holden leads the team with 26 assists, is second with eight steals and plays the most at 28.5 minutes per game. Joiner is second in scoring (11.7 points), third with seven steals and was the team’s leading rebounder prior to Sunday’s loss to USC.
Joiner grabbed five and eight rebounds in CSUB’s final two games at the Junkanoo Jam. That came after the opening game when he didn’t have a rebound, played just 18 minutes and committed four fouls.
Barnes challenged Joiner to be better after seeing on film that Joiner occasionally neglected to go for a defensive rebound or toward the basket as the backside defender.
“(Barnes) said just try to find ways to affect the game in a good way without you having the ball all the time in your hands,” Joiner said. “So I just try to go get rebounds, try to go get steals, stuff like that.”
Along with Holden and Joiner, guards/forwards Justin Edler-Davis and Taze Moore make up a main group that the Roadrunners “like and need to be two-way players,” Barnes said.
You don’t see any high school players around the country closing out on defense, taking charges or working on boxing out, Barnes said. Most of the time, you see them shooting 3-pointers, dunking and doing ball handling drills, he added.
That means more effort has to go into developing the players’ defensive skills.
For Joiner, the most significant stride he’s made in his defense since coming to CSUB is his “Coach Barnes hand.” That’s what the players call the strategy of sticking a hand out on defense to bother dribblers, which Barnes emphasizes.
Barnes wants Joiner and the rest of his players as concerned about that as they are with making shots.
“To be a two-way player, that means you have as much emphasis on the defensive end as you do on the offensive end,” Barnes said. “It’s something we preach all the time, but it’s something that some guys we have to challenge in our program to become better at those things than other guys.”
CSUB senior Damiyne Durham is just six made 3-pointers away from breaking the Roadrunners' all-time record for 3s in a career. Kenny Warren made 278 in a career that stretched from 1990-94 when CSUB was a Division II team.