For the second-straight season CSUB men’s basketball made history with their play, their passion, their fan base and their postseason competition as the Roadrunners season ended on March 28 at the famed Madison Square Garden in the NIT semifinals.
It was another season of ‘firsts’ for the ‘Runners who once again captured the hearts of Bakersfield and Kern County by following up their 2016 NCAA Tournament appearance with a WAC regular-season championship and an appearance in the semifinals of the NIT where they would become the first team in history to reach the semifinals as an eight-seed.
Here’s a look at another amazing men’s basketball season for the CSUB Roadrunners.
With their victory at UT Arlington on March 22 which solidified their place in the NIT semifinals in New York, the Roadrunners won their 25th game, eclipsing the 24-win season from a year ago and setting a new Division I school record for victories in a season.
CSUB also posted a 12-2 mark in Western Athletic Conference play, their best-ever mark since joining the league in 2013. The ‘Runners were also 6-1 on the road in the geographically-diverse WAC, losing only one conference road game in 2017, at NM State.
The Roadrunners also posted a 12-1 mark at home and at one point were in the midst of an 18-game home winning streak before a shorthanded-loss in the regular-season finale vs. GCU.
The Roadrunners also matched their longest winning streak since 2005-06 when they rattled off 10 straight wins while capturing the WAC championship.
Head coach Rod Barnes also recorded his 100th win at the helm of CSUB men’s basketball when the ‘Runners defeated Seattle U 51-48 on Feb. 18 in Seattle. Barnes is now 106-88 at CSUB in six complete seasons. He joins only two other Roadrunner head coaches, Pat Douglass and Henry Clark to win at least 100 games at CSUB.
Barnes now holds a 291-275 head coaching record and will reach the 300-career-win mark next season.
For the first time in Division I history, and nearly 20 years since their last title, the Roadrunners won a conference championship. With critical road wins at GCU and Seattle coupled with a home victory that snapped NM State’s 20-game winning streak, CSUB captured the WAC title with a week to play in the season.
It was the first Western Athletic Conference regular-season championship for the Roadrunners and the first title since the 1997-98 CCAA Championship won at the Division II level.
The regular-season title came with an automatic berth to the NIT and although CSUB fell in the WAC Tournament Championship and missed out on their second-straight NCAA Tournament, CSUB took the NIT bid seriously, winning three road games on their way to New York City.
Due to their unselfish-style of play, their balanced scoring and the affinity for defense, the Roadrunners won the regular-season title without winning a single WAC Player of the Week award.
The Roadrunners however would be well-represented on the All-WAC teams led by senior forward Jaylin Airington, who was named First Team All-WAC.
CSUB, the leading defensive team in the WAC and one of the top-defensive teams in the nation, earned three spots on the All-WAC Defensive team with Matt Smith, Moataz Aly and Jaylin Airington all receiving honors. The ‘Runners are the only team in the NCAA to put three players on a conference all-defensive team.
Juniors Moataz Aly and Shon Briggs were also recognized for their contributions by earning a place on the All-WAC Newcomers team. The seven honorees were the most-ever for CSUB in their four-season history in the WAC.
Jaylin Airington was also named to the National Association of Basketball Coaches All-District Team. Airington, playing in the very-competitive district 6, comprised of players from the Pac-12, WCC the Mountain West and more, earned a spot on the second-team. The first to do so in CSUB’s Division I history.
Head coach Rod Barnes would also win his second consecutive Western Athletic Conference ‘Don Haskins Coach of the Year’ Award for another historic season at the helm of the Roadrunners.
For the second-straight season, CSUB saw a spike in attendance at the Icardo Center. The Roadrunners averaged 2,685 fans in their 13 home games. That included four sellouts this season, the most since CSUB moved back to the Icardo Center full time in the 2014-15 season and an improvement from one sellout in 2015-16.
The average attendance increased by 1,027 fans per game this season, up from an average of 1658 fans in 2015-16; a 38% increase during the 2016-17 season. Several reserved seating sections of the Icardo Center were sold out for every home game this season.
A Magical March
After losing in the WAC Tournament Championship game to NM State, the Roadrunners made the most of their automatic-bid to the NIT. CSUB was seeded 8th and drew Cal in the first round in Berkeley. The Roadrunners, for the second-straight time, went to Haas Pavilion and handed the heavily-favored Bears a 73-66 loss. CSUB led by over 20 points in that game before holding off a late Cal rally.
In the second round the Roadrunners traveled to Colorado State to face the Mountain West regular-season champion Rams in Fort Collins. The ‘Runners, facing Mountain West Player of the Year Gian Clavell, again got off to a fast start and dismantled the Rams 81-63. CSUB became the first 8-seed to win two road games in the NIT.
Two days later, the road-weary ‘Runners went to UT Arlington to face the Sun Belt Champion Mavericks at the College Park Center where UT Arlington was 14-0 on the season. For the second game straight, CSUB was facing a conference player of the year in Kevin Hervey. Despite the challenges and the matchup, the Roadrunners punched their ticket to New York with an 80-76 victory.
No team in the history of the NIT had ever gone from an eight-seed to the floor of Madison Square Garden, securing CSUB’s place in history. While the Roadrunners fell in the semifinals to Georgia Tech, they once again captured the hearts of Bakersfield with this magical run. Local media, businesses and fans threw their support behind CSUB, once again being caught up in the fever created by a successful March by the Roadrunners.
The Roadrunners graduate a very-talented senior class that had a heavy hand in taking the program to the next level in the last two seasons which included NCAA Tournament and NIT appearances. Three of the top-five scorers this season will be leaving the program with Damiyne Durham and Shon Briggs set to return as the top-two leading scorers entering next season.
However, due to the success of the Roadrunners over the last few seasons, CSUB is welcoming in their highest-rated and most-talented recruiting class. The Roadrunners received National Letters of Intent during the early-signing period from Oxford High School’s Jarkel Joiner out of Oxford, Miss. Joiner, a shooting guard who was the second-leading scorer in the nation, averaged 37 points per game this season.
Along with Joiner, the freshmen class includes local product Justin McCall of Ridgeview High School who was second on the Central Section Division II Champion Wolfpack in scoring. Also joining the ‘Runners is forward Darrin Person Jr., from Immanuel H.S. in Reedley, Calif. Person led the Eagles to the CIF Central Section Division IV Championship and to the CIF Division IV State Championship game after hitting the game-winning shot in an upset at Burbank on March 14. Person averaged 20 points and 10 rebounds per contest for the Eagles as a senior.
The lone junior college transfer for the Roadrunners will be point guard Rickey Holden from Jones County Community College in Mississippi. Holden averaged 13 points, four rebounds and three assists per game for Jones while shooting 47% from the field. Holden also ranked 15th nationally in free-throw percentage knocking down 87% of his shots from the charity stripe this season.
A top-notch recruiting class joined by redshirt freshman Greg Lee and Justin Davis will give the Roadrunners plenty of talented options and a strong youth base to build on for the future. Next year’s senior class includes four-year player Brent Wrapp at point guard, Moataz Aly and Fallou N’Doye at center and Shon Briggs, James Suber and Bray Barnes at forward positions. Coupled with the wing-shooting of 2017-18 redshirt junior Damiyne Durham and the ‘Runners have a solid mix of youth and experience to make another run into the postseason.
Join The Roadrunners
With the 2017-18 season set to tip off in eight months, season ticket deposits are being accepted for the upcoming season. Due to increased demand, fans are encouraged to make their deposits early to ensure the best seats for the upcoming season.
Season ticket deposits are $100 and can be made by contacting the CSUB Athletics Ticket Office at 661-654-BLUE or by emailing email@example.com.