With a revamped roster, the Cal Poly Men’s Basketball team is looking to improve on their first-round-exit last year in the Big West Conference Tournament. New and returning Mustangs were put on display in the annual intrasquad game Saturday inside Mott Athletics Center, where the Green squad defeated the Gold team 52-49.
The Green team, led by senior guard Marcellus Garrick’s 17 points and four assists, narrowly defeated the Gold team after they had a chance to tie late in the game, but fell short on the final possession.
The Gold team was led by senior guard Donovan Fields’ 17 points and freshman guard Junior Ballard’s 10 points and seven rebounds. Meanwhile, freshman forward Kyle Colvin also contributed with 11 points and five rebounds off the bench for the Green side.
“[Being back in Mott] has been a long time coming, but I’m really excited for the upcoming season,” Fields said. “It’s been good to get out there with all the new guys and see how we gel together and see how the chemistry is flowing.”
Video by Jay Serrano
Following the intrasquad game, Cal Poly held an alumni game and a dunk contest that was won by freshman forward Daxton Carr who had six points and six rebounds in the intrasquad game.
No matter the outcome of the intrasquad game, the team is focused on building chemistry with eight new players on the roster and getting their conditioning right for the long season ahead.
“We have seven returners who are being great mentors, coaches and friends to the new guys,” head coach Joe Callero said. “Anytime you have leadership, you’re going to have followers and we have guys who are willing to listen to the leaders and that kind of brings a family-like atmosphere that is critical to having success.”
With the scrimmage laying a foundation for the upcoming season, Callero put an emphasis on competing and building a camaraderie with the veterans and new players in order to work towards the bigger picture for the team.
“The number one goal we have every single year is to keep getting better. We want to stay healthy, but I don’t control that, and we have to have a great attitude, a great effort, and that will allow you to improve every game,” Callero said. “If you improve every game, you can get anywhere from first in the conference to winning the conference championship, and getting back to the big dance which is ultimately the goal every year, but you can’t get there if you don’t keep improving throughout the year.”
Even with the departure of key players like guard Victor Joseph and forwards Luke Meikle and Josh Martin, the players are hopeful that the team’s long-term goals will surpass last year’s results.
“My personal goal and my team goal are pretty much the same, which is — I want to get back to the NCAA tournament like the 2014 team did,” Fields said. “[To do that], we have to give effort every single play and instill confidence in one another and even when we take punches and we face challenges, we have to be prepared to overcome them.”
The Mustangs’ first game of the season will tip off Nov.7 at 7 p.m. when they host Menlo College in Mott Athletics Center.