Maliik Love dribbles past his teammate during the intrasquad Green and Gold game Oct. 12.
Following a record-breaking season for Cal Poly men’s basketball, the team played its annual intrasquad game to prepare for the upcoming season.
“I was very pleased with the intrasquad game,” head coach Joe Callero said. “The No. 1 thing in sports is competitiveness, and we want to be a highly competitive team.”
The men’s basketball team went 12-6 in the Big West Conference, and finished the season with 18 wins. The team also reached the semifinal round of the Big West tournament, only the second time in Mustang history that the team has accomplished this feat.
“We embrace last year’s accomplishments,” Callero said. “Each team and each year is a new separate team with new identities and new goals. The theme is that we just need to improve.”
Cal Poly has maintained its win total from the previous season or has improved upon it during each of Callero’s first four years.
“We would like to have another winning season,” Callero said. “Another season where we play our best basketball in February. Getting better, getting better and then peaking at the end of the season is one of my goals every year.”
Sophomore David Nwaba, a transfer from Santa Monica College, won the basketball team’s inaugural dunk contest and scored a game-high 12 points in his Cal Poly basketball debut.
“I came here because I feel like the team can make it to the NCAA tournament,” Nwaba said.
Another new player to the team is freshman Ridge Shipley. He averaged 18 points and five assists his senior year of high school, and was rated the No. 3 point guard in Texas.
When asked about his goals for the season, Shipley put it simply: “To win championships … I love playing with the team, and I feel that the team is going to be really good this year.”
Shipley contributed to his squad’s only lead with a three-pointer early in the first quarter of the intrasquad game.
Senior Jamal Johnson recorded game highs in rebounds and assists for the green squad.
“The team is getting better and stronger,” Johnson said. “This team is the most dynamic that I’ve seen so far.”
Last season, Johnson finished sixth among all Big West performers with 122 assists.
“I really want to make the NCAA tournament for my last season,” Johnson said. “My main focus is to represent our school on a bigger stage and put Cal Poly on the map.”
When asked about his experience here at Cal Poly, Johnson said, “This has been the greatest experience of my life so far. Coming from San Antonio and getting close with the team, well I couldn’t ask for anything better than that.”
The Cal Poly men’s basketball team opens their preseason Nov. 8 at Arizona, a team ranked fifth nationally in the first USA Today poll of the season.