Game 5: Gophers Host CSUN (11-22-23)

Ignatius L Hoops

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And then, the Matadors Were Defeated by Hope

Two items about CSUN (California State University Northridge) occupied the dustier crevasses of my brain: 1) That the San Fernando Valley campus suffered extensive damage from the 1994 Northridge earthquake and 2) former Twin the late Lyman Bostock played baseball for the school when it was still known as San Fernando Valley State University.

I vaguely recalled that quake damage led to the demolition of architect Richard Neutra’s Fine Arts building in 1997. Whether the demolition was a major loss to the oeuvre of LA’s leading modernist I don’t know. Regarding item 2: while Lymon Bostock’s 1978 murder in Gary, Indiana has been well documented, Bostock’s years at SFVSU attracted some recent research which recognized Bostock’s activism with SFVSU’s Black Student Union. His activism included arrest and jail time which eventually helped forward the creation of an Educational Opportunity Program at what once was a virtually all white university.

The current CSUN women’s basketball team delivered their own minor seismic shock in the season’s second game.


Kayanna Spriggs buzzer beater allowed the Matadors to open the season 2-0 for the first time since 2014-15 and hope for better days.

If there was a great era of CSUN women’s basketball, it was the Jason Flowers coaching era. And the 2014-15 season fell at its highpoint. Flowers was the winningest coach in Matador history 150-169 (87-74 in the Big West). In ten years, he posted one 1st place and three 2nd place Big West finishes spread over a decade. The Matadors also took three Big West tournament titles (2014, 2015 and 2018). Then, in April 2020, Flowers resigned to become director of player development for Cal Baptist women’s basketball.

CSUN sat out the pandemic year before hiring Carlene Mitchell as an interim head coach in July of 2021. The interim tag was removed the following season.

Mitchell’s resume highlight was that she spent ten years as an assistant to C. Vivian Stringer during Rutgers’ glory days in the aughts. This had led to her being named head coach at UC Santa Barbara beginning with the 2011-12 season. Mitchell’s first season with the Big West Gauchos was her best. UCSB, 8-8 in conference, won the Big West tournament. Then the program went over a cliff and took Mitchell with it. She was dismissed in April 2015 after a 2-27 season.

Mitchell’s dismissal from UCSB led to her wandering the basketball hinterland. She coached in the Korean Women’s Basketball League; she spent a season as an assistant for the Chicago Sky and she was a contributor to Blue Star. Then CSUN, citing her Big West experience, put her back in the big chair hoping for the best.

It’s been a slow start at CSUN. In Mitchell’s first season, the Matadors went 9-19 (5-12 in conference). In her second it was 7-25 (6-14) highlighted by a 64-point loss to Stanford. Finishing 8th and 9th were good enough reasons for the Matadors to be pegged 11th in the 11 team league during this season’s Big West Media Day.

Nevertheless, some new faces are providing hope. Opening at home, the Matadors defeated Utah State 76-64 and Seattle University 81-72 in OT. A cynic would note that last season Utah State was 4-26 and Seattle 6-24. CSUN followed their 2-0 start with a trip to Santa Clara where the Matadors were drubbed 39-71 by the Broncos.

The Players

The opening win over Utah State created a buzz around two freshmen guards who came off the bench and contributed 18 points apiece.

5’11” freshman guard Kaitlyn Elsholz opened her career with 18 points, 5 steals, 3 rebounds and 2 assists against Utah State. She followed that effort with a 22 point and 7 rebound performance against Seattle. Elsholz led the late game comeback from an 18-point deficit scoring 9 points in the fourth quarter and 7 in the overtime for the win. That was good enough to be named Big West Player of the Week and move her into the starting lineup against Santa Clara. She scored 7 points in the 39-71 loss.

The other breakout freshman guard, 5’8” Amiyah Ferguson added 6 assists to her 18 points against Utah States. She hasn’t moved into the starting lineup and It appears turnovers (14) are limiting her playing time.

There was a third fresh face guard helping engineer the first two victories, Erica Adams. The 5’10” junior transfer from Pacific, scored 17 points against Utah State and 13 against Seattle. Unfortunately, she hasn’t played in the next two game.

We’ve already met Kayanna Spriggs who sent the Seattle game to overtime. The 6’2” junior forward, averages 7.7 points, 5.3 rebounds in 25 minutes per game. Spriggs is also foul prone having picked up ten in three games.

Talo Li-Uperesa transferred from City College of San Fransico where she led the conference in scoring. The 5’11” junior forward averages 8 points and 5.3 rebounds in 29.3 minutes per game.

Laney Amudsen is a prolific, if terrible, three-point shooter (2-26). The 6’1” junior forward averages 7.3 points 5.7 rebounds and 10 fouls in 34.7 minutes per game.

The final starter is Rachel Harvey. The 5’7” junior guard has accomplished little of note while averaging 18 minutes per game.

The Ugly Stats:

The Matadors are 17-82 (.207) from three and 36-56 (.643) from the line.

The Ugly result:

I usually don’t mention results against NAIA schools; but, on Saturday CSUN managed to lose to Hope International University 60-64. I’ll let Carlene Mitchell give a summation:

"This is a disappointing loss, but I'm going to give Hope International all of the credit. Their kids competed from the tip to the final buzzer. Jess [Case] is a former assistant of mine, so give them a lot of credit. They were prepared and played with a lot of emotion. We were flat and we started pressing it. When you give them a chance and any kind of hope, they're going to battle, and we just didn't make shots again. It continues to be a nemesis of ours, making open jumpers."

That sums up what to expect on Wednesday night.





For those interested here’s a CSUN student paper article on Lyman Bostock from last April

https://sundial.csun.edu/173889/sports/lyman-bostock-remembering-a-matadors-legend/
 


It is a bit hard to find out info on this team. Their stats are a game behind and they don't appear to do game notes. I'm sure our coaches have more than enough info to be ready for the game, though, and that's what really matters!
 

Some additional information: CSUN beat Utah State 79-64 (home), beat Seattle University 81-72 (home), lost to Santa Clara University 71-39 (road), and lost to Hope University 64-60 (home). All of their games have been in front of crowds around 200 fans. So perhaps 2,000 fans might be a bit intimidating. Then again, the night before Thanksgiving, maybe the Barn will quite empty....
 









Interesting game. Coach played everyone. They looked fantastic in the first half and a little sloppy in parts of the second half. There is a diversity of strengths and skills among the players. Coach has some options on plays to run and substitutions to make depending on the game situation. Although the CSUN was short-handed and lacked weapons, the game should have been a confidence builder and morale builder for gopher starters and reserves.
 

UPDATED +/-

(sorry I didn't post one for the UConn game)

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tonight's +/-

Heyer 41
Battle 40
Braun 39
GG 38
Sophie 28
Maggie 22
Nia 21
Sanders 16
Johnson 10
Madol 8
Senden 1
Dalan 1
 





Grocholski appeared to be the player who knows where everyone should be on offense and defense. At least she was the most active at keeping things organized. (On the drive home listening to Plitzuweit on the postgame she said something along the lines that she's in the early stages of installing her motion offense).

The gophers also worked on their zone press with Holloway on the leading edge. Nia was disruptive out front

It was also a game for pushing the ball to Hart. She responded

Also, we seemed to have settled on a rotation
 

Don't think I have ever seen a team held to 2 points in the 4th quarter. And MN did it essentially with starters sitting for most of it. Seemed like Coach wanted Braun to score 20+ points, left her out there until she did (last starter out). Again, our worst quarter was the 3rd. Hopefully this won't continue to be a trend (like a year ago).
 


Don't think I have ever seen a team held to 2 points in the 4th quarter. And MN did it essentially with starters sitting for most of it. Seemed like Coach wanted Braun to score 20+ points, left her out there until she did (last starter out). Again, our worst quarter was the 3rd. Hopefully this won't continue to be a trend (like a year ago).

Purdue (From the Media Guide)

Fewest opponent team points in a quarter
2 Purdue, 2/14/19 (Q4)
2 Kent State, 12/22/16 (Q1)
2 Florida State, 11/30/16 (Q4)
4 Incarnate Word, 12/5/18 (Q1)
4 Wofford, 11/13/15
 

my take away from tonight is..

Grace is a REALLY good player.. is she like the superstar no.. but gosh she does so many of the little things right.. like tonight only 1-6 for 5 points but she had 6 rebounds, 7 assists and a steal and I think had to jumpballs..

her shot it sooo pure a lot of her shots seem like they are going in most of the time. I do wish we would post her up against smaller guards..

side note I wish we would hit Heyer when she leaks out on fast breaks or when she makes an excellent backdoor cut

I feel like Sophie is improving each game, have to remember she didn't play for a year and half.. but tonight she was rebounding better using her body better to position herself.. has some really nice moves, but I will say KEEP the BALL UP after a rebound and go straight up! (heck even Fowles had to learn that when she came to the Lynx in 2015)
 

Purdue (From the Media Guide)

Fewest opponent team points in a quarter
2 Purdue, 2/14/19 (Q4)
2 Kent State, 12/22/16 (Q1)
2 Florida State, 11/30/16 (Q4)
4 Incarnate Word, 12/5/18 (Q1)
4 Wofford, 11/13/15
Well, I wasn't at the Purdue game (headed to warmer location), but as a season ticket holder I would likely have been there for Florida State if a home game. I think holding a team to 2 in the 4th is more remarkable when it is highly likely that the bench was emptied for Gophers.

Thanks for the history lesson. :)
 

Don't think I have ever seen a team held to 2 points in the 4th quarter. And MN did it essentially with starters sitting for most of it. Seemed like Coach wanted Braun to score 20+ points, left her out there until she did (last starter out). Again, our worst quarter was the 3rd. Hopefully this won't continue to be a trend (like a year ago).
Coach P's 2018-19 team outscored Omaha 29-0 in the first quarter of a league game in Vermillion. 0-13 FG shooting, 0-7 on arc shots.
 

Thanks for the information on Lyman Bostock. He was a great player and person, and it was great to read the information on him.
 

my take away from tonight is..

Grace is a REALLY good player.. is she like the superstar no.. but gosh she does so many of the little things right.. like tonight only 1-6 for 5 points but she had 6 rebounds, 7 assists and a steal and I think had to jumpballs..

her shot it sooo pure a lot of her shots seem like they are going in most of the time. I do wish we would post her up against smaller guards..

side note I wish we would hit Heyer when she leaks out on fast breaks or when she makes an excellent backdoor cut

I feel like Sophie is improving each game, have to remember she didn't play for a year and half.. but tonight she was rebounding better using her body better to position herself.. has some really nice moves, but I will say KEEP the BALL UP after a rebound and go straight up! (heck even Fowles had to learn that when she came to the Lynx in 2015)
Grace has great vision and knows how to get the ball to the open person. Your comment on her doing the little things is right on.
 

I think the Drake game will tell us more about who we are. Looking forward to that one.
I Like Coach P. Wish we had a couple more pieces to the puzzle of putting together a NCAA Tournament team.
Different topic: Hopefully, with the layoff and lack of playing time at her previous stop...Hart keeps gaining confidence and adapts to what Coach P wants from her and she becomes a force. That's probably the biggest wild card for me because experienced depth at that spot isn't there. Will Hart stay out of foul trouble versus better posts? But UConn didn't score at will inside...so? We seem to be adjusting by digging it out of there with help if it gets in there.
 

Based on various comments, it appears the new system is progressively falling into place week to week. I guess we'll know more when, you know, action like Big Ten action begins.

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