Basketball programs set sights on memorable seasons

Basketball programs set sights on memorable seasons

With many new faces—and one of the strongest recruiting classes in recent years—Cal State L.A.’s men’s and women’s basketball programs are gearing up for a competitive and optimistic 2010-11 season.

The men’s program, led by sixth-year head coach Stephen Thompson, has its sights set on a run to the NCAA Division II playoffs for the first time since 2000, while also maintaining a streak of competitive finishes in the California Collegiate Athletic Association. The Golden Eagles qualified for the CCAA Championship Tournament for the second time in three seasons last year and had a notable road victory at Cal Poly Pomona, which went on to win the 2010 national championship.

Center Carl Hoffman looks for his shot against Syracuse.

Thompson welcomes back a strong core of players, including four starters: sophomore center Carl Hoffman, junior forward Leland Jones, junior guard Chris Robinson and sophomore guard Trevor Hopkins. Jones, now in his third season with the program, had the most significant shot of the season, a game-winning put-back at the buzzer to beat Cal Poly Pomona.

But even with the strength and skill of the Golden Eagles returning team, what coaches and fans are most excited to see is the class of new recruits in action. Bolstering the squad are six newcomers:  Franklin Session, a guard from Weber State; David Norris, a guard/forward from Sacramento State; Ryan Wetherell, a guard from USC; Bussey Ellis, a guard from Chaminade; Ozzie Morrison, a forward/center from Barstow Junior College; and Aj Kapanoske, a center from Sacramento State.

“I’m very excited about this incoming class,” Thompson said. “They are a very talented group. We look for great contributions from all of them.”

Intense play under the basket during a women's basketball game.

The women’s program, meanwhile, has a much different look and approach from the top down. Starting at the head coaching position is Janell Jones, who comes to CSULA after successful stints at Mercer University, UC San Diego and Oklahoma City. Jones spent three years at Division I Mercer after achieving great success at UC San Diego, where she was 50-10 over two seasons. She brings a career record of 260-80.

The women’s program also has nine newcomers on the court: Gretchen Tiernan, a guard from University of the Pacific; Erika Ruiz, a guard from St. Mary’s College; Lorin Hammer, a guard from Mercer; Lacy Ramon, a forward from Mercer; Amber Coleman, a forward from Mercer; freshman Lindsey Hammer from Sequoia High School; freshman Karmen Gunn from Luella High School; freshman Paris Lamar from Saint Anthony High School; and freshman Angeline Jefferson from Maranatha Christian High School.

Jazzi Johnson, the leading scorer on last year’s team and Shatori Dearman, who was fourth on the squad in scoring and second in rebounding, are among eight returning players.

“I am excited to be back in the CCAA and I look forward to the opportunity to build the Cal State L.A. women’s basketball team into a championship program,” Jones said.

Reserve your seat

  • Tuesday, Nov. 23, 5:30 p.m.
    CSULA women @ CSU Dominguez Hills
  • Saturday, Nov. 27, 5 p.m.
    CSULA men @ CSU Dominguez Hills
  • Friday, Dec. 3, 5:30 p.m.
    CSU San Bernardino @ CSULA (women)
  • Friday, Nov. 3, 7:30 p.m.
    CSU San Bernardino @ CSULA (men)

For more details, or tickets, visit Athletics' web page.