CHADRON – The Chadron State College men’s basketball team was to open its season Monday night at home with an exhibition game against the Blue Angels, a barnstorming team made up of former college players, by the game has been canceled and won’t be made up.
Instead, CSC’s first action will be a counting game a week later on Monday November 12th again traditional rival Nebraska-Kearney…which left the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference this year for the MIAA. Tip-off time will be 7 pm.
The Eagles, already a young club after graduating 4 seniors…including last year’s top 3 scorers and rebounders, lost point guard Sammy Hines…the only returning full-time starter and one of just 2 seniors…for the season to a torn knee ligament.
Coach Brent Bargen, entering his seventh season at CSC, says Hines was the Eagles’ most-experience and arguably best play, so they’ll definitely miss his skills and leadership. Bargen says the good news is that Hines should return at full speed next year.
The Detroit native, who came to Chadron as a junior college transfer as a sophomore, averaged 8.7 points, sank 42% of his 3-point shots and had more assists than turnovers.
Bargen expects redshirt freshman Justyn Anderson from Las Vegas and true freshman Dominque Watkins of Sand Diego to share the point guard duties with former Scottsbluff High star Tim McDavid helping out.
An injury limited Anderson to just 4 games last year, allowing him to retain the year of eligibility. He averaged over 31 points a game as a high school senior. Watkins averaged about 18 points at San Diego’s Bishop’s High last season and 13.4 points and 4.8 assists his junior year.
McDavid, a junior, joined CSC last year as a junior college transferred and played primarily on the wing. David Downey…another junior and former Scottsbluff guard…is now the only player with more than one season with CSC while forward Josh Hatcher, a transfer last year, is the only senior on the roster.
The Eagles do return 3 sophomore letter winners: 7-0 center Michael Safer and forwards Kendrick Holliman and Kyle Vinich. Vinich started the last half of last season, but is also on the CSC football team and won’t be available until the football season ends. Sophomore center Mouhamed Diop redshirted last year after a preseason injury.
Bargen brought in 3 junior college transfers and two freshmen this year, and one of them is intimately family with the program: his son, 6-5 Zac Bargen. The younger Bargen, an All-State selection at Chadron High, played Butler CC in Kansas the past two seasons, averaging about 9 points and 5 rebounds a game.
The other two transfers are also 6-5. Grant Stone averaged 13.5 points and 7.5 rebounds while shooting 44% from 3-point range at Henry Ford Community College in the Detroit area. Chris Taylor, originally from Amman, Jordan, played at southern California’s Irvine Valley College the past 2 years and averaged about 7 points and 3 rebounds.
The other freshmen recruit is Brandon Pippenger, a 6-8 forward who averaged 12 points, 8 rebounds, and 2 blocks last year at Martin Luther High at Banning, Calif.
Despite losing Hines, Bargen says the Eagles are off to a good start in practice with good leaders and the ability to score with solid depth at all positions with at least two players vying for the starting nod at each. He also likes having 3 promising young centers, all 6-foot-8 or taller.