Balance is defined as a state of equilibrium or equipoise; equal distribution of weight, amount, etc. By its own description it has nothing to do with basketball in particular and yet it has everything to do with roundball when viewed up close by Coach Chuck Martin and his staff.
Over the past few years, the offensive production of the Mustang attack has been tipping toward the backcourt, producing the club’s top scorers without much of a complement from those playing up front. That’s about to change or least that’s the objective of the seventh-year head coach who finally has the athletes to do something about it.
One of those expected to bring balance via a strong low-post game is sophomore transfer Korey Anderson. His left-handed repertoire positions him well at power forward but his versatile, back-to-the-basket game will allow him to make a seamless transition to the five when necessary. Fellow second-year player Chris Patureau, pegged to start at the four-spot, is a rugged competitor who does a lot of dirty work that typically goes unnoticed by everybody except the coaches. Although this pair is essentially competing for playing time at the same position, expect them to be in the game together at times to create more offense.
If that combo produces as expected, then senior center Paul Brown, a monster at the defensive end, can continue to focus his efforts on rebounding and altering and blocking shots. However, even a slight increase in offensive production would keep defenses honest and give the club more options. Junior transfer Austin Loeb is especially strong at the offensive end and could provide a nice contrast to Brown in reserve.
However, it’s not all about what’s up front because Martin has plenty of proven firepower in the backcourt, especially on the wings where seniors Leif Karlberg and Devin Dyer complement each other with diverse games. The veteran tandem has played together for the past three years so they know each other’s games inside out. Karlberg is the one who can stretch defenses from behind the arc while Dyer is the one Martin turns to in late-game situations to create game-winning shots.
When one or both of those needs a breather, fellow senior Lance Reeves and two newcomers, sophomore Derrick Fain and junior Jason Logan, will be called upon to produce without any drop-off in productivity. Both Reeves and Fain possess long-range games similar to that of Karlberg and a gritty demeanor that is perfect for a change of pace. Logan, meanwhile, is a slasher who feels most comfortable above the rim where his leaping ability takes him to both score and defend.
As important as all of this is, none of it will be utilized to its fullest without someone triggering the offense and spearheading the defense. With that in mind, Martin and his staff are putting that responsibility in the hands of sophomore point guard Monice Garrett whose pass-first mentality bodes well for the veteran wings and a front court that’s trying to establish its offensive persona. Junior Logan Quinn thinks the same way with the ball in his hands, so his play off the bench will provide much-needed continuity.
Now on the cusp of another campaign, it becomes the responsibility of Martin and his staff to make these talented individuals gel as a unit. That unity will be tested as the club embarks on a 29-game regular schedule that features contests against five squads that are nationally-ranked in various preseason polls. Three of the teams, top-ranked and defending national champion Concordia, No. 8 Westmont, and No. 13 Biola, all reside in a slimmed-down yet ultra-competitive GSAC. The Mustangs will also take on 20th-ranked Cal State Marcos and travel to NCAA Division power, No. 11 Cal Poly Pomona in the season’s second week. The slate is a challenging one but this squad has enormous potential if it can only keep its balance.