After a season cut short by way of a 66-64 NCAA tournament loss in the first round at the hands of rival Azusa Pacific University, the members of this year’s Point Loma Nazarene University men’s basketball team have some additional motivation.
In 2021, the Sea Lions started the season 4-6 before rattling off wins in 16 of their 18 games leading into the PacWest tournament. This year, the Sea Lions look to avoid a slow start with the help of both returning stars and high impact additions.
Graduate forward Kaden Anderson hopes to defend his PacWest Player of the Year title. Anderson will attempt to win the award for the third straight year, a feat only Brigham Young University Hawaii’s Lucas Alves has achieved since 1982. Anderson averaged 21.2 points per game and 9.4 rebounds per game in 2021, both good for first on the team.
Head coach Matt Logie emphasized the importance of Anderson to this Sea Lions squad, citing his competitiveness and confidence as assets not only to himself, but to the team as a whole.
“He is arguably the best player in the nation at our level and so having that type of player not only provides scoring punch, rebounding, etc, but he also provides a confidence and advantage to his teammates because he makes everyone around him better,” Logie said.
Aside from the returning Player of the Year, PLNU has also managed to add a number of talented players through the transfer portal. One notable transfer is guard Shamrock Campbell, an NAIA All-American player for Coach Kurt Paulson at Carroll College in Helena, Montana.
The Sea Lions also added two DI transfers — Wes Slajchert (Dartmouth) and Kyle Colvin (Cal Poly SLO) — who Logie said bring both experience and winning know-how to the team. Rounding out a talented transfer class is Tobin Karlberg (University of Alaska-Anchorage), who averaged 18 points per game and was named to the All-GNAC team last season.
Logie specifically emphasized how proud he is of the culture the coaches and staff work so hard to put in place, stating that this year’s team is exceptionally close.
“I’m very proud of the culture that we’ve built over our first three years at Point Loma. I think this year’s team in particular is a great embodiment of our family environment and core values because our guys really enjoy competing together and are a very unselfish group,” Logie said.
Catch men’s basketball at their home opener Nov. 15 at 7 p. m. in Golden Gymnasium versus Northwest Nazarene.
While the men’s squad must traverse the obstacle of integrating a number of new faces, PLNU women’s basketball faces a near opposite challenge. In 2021, the Sea Lions finished 15-14, while logging a gutsy 55-52 win over Concordia in the PacWest tournament. Last year’s squad was led by graduate guard Cara Liggins, who started all 29 games and led the team in points per game, rebounds per game and blocks.
PLNU women’s basketball head coach Charity Elliot said that replacing a player like Liggins is a daunting task, but one she thinks will be overcome.
“Losing Cara Liggins certainly leaves a big hole to fill, but I’m confident that we have the pieces to make up for a lot of what she brought to us. You don’t replace a player like Cara with just one player. It will be a team effort to make up for the leadership and on court production that she brought,” Elliot said.
Elliott said she believes the growth she has seen in her returning players as well as the talent they acquired from this year’s recruiting class will be enough to make up for Liggins’ absence as the season goes on.
“I believe we have several freshmen who are ready to step in and make an immediate impact and as the season progresses and they each learn more of the system, I expect them to contribute in even more ways,” Elliott said.
The women’s squad is seeking their first ever PacWest regular season title this year, the closest they have gotten being a second place finish in the 2016-17 season in which they finished 24-6 behind 35-3 Cal Baptist University.
In the preseason polls, PLNU’s men placed second in the PacWest, just one vote behind Azusa Pacific. Women’s basketball placed fifth in the PacWest preseason poll, one vote behind Biola University. Both teams will look to prove voters wrong as they begin their season-long quests for the PacWest crown.
Catch women’s basketball in action at their home opener Nov. 19 at 2 p. m. in Golden Gymnasium versus California State Dominguez Hills.
Written By: Cade Cavin