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The Pioneer

New Basketball Coach Brings Change in Culture

Marina Swanson

Marina Swanson

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The CSU East Bay Men’s basketball team has kicked off the 2013-2014 season going 3-4 as Gus Argenal begins his first year.

Argenal, who took over after former Head Coach Will Biggs retired after 16 seasons, hopes to turn around a program that has a combined 21-57 record in the previous three seasons.

After a few short weeks, his players say they can already see a big difference from last year.

“I have seen a big difference,” said senior guard Mark Samuels, who currently ranks fifth all-time in scoring at East Bay. “You can see the guys have more of a passion. The guys seem to buy into what we are doing and are working hard to get better. It has been a change in culture and we will see how we complete the goals as the year goes on. So far we are all dedicated and all ready.”

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Guard Gabe Kindred takes instruction from the
coaching staff.

Despite the poor record for the previous three seasons and being a first time head coach, Argenal has yet to change his expectations for his team and the current season.

“My expectation is that they expect to go out and win,” said Argenal. “They expect that every day, they understand that the process is [to] do the right things every day in practice. To work hard, to have the passion I talk about, to work hard in the weight room and then that will carry over and get done what they want to have happen which is win. I want them to believe they will win every night.”

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Head Coach Gus Argenal gives direction to his team.

The Pioneers welcomed six newcomers to the roster with nine returning from the previous season.

With guards Samuels, Gabe Kindred and Jacari Whitfield returning, the backcourt for the Pioneers will be a particular strength of this year’s team.

“We have a really deep backcourt,” said Kindred. “With myself, [Whitfield] and [Samuels], we are three veteran leaders. I think our depth in the backcourt will be a strength of this team.”

With quality guard play, the Pioneers hope to push the ball and be a team that flourishes in transition.

“I think we are really good in transition,” said Argenal. “When we get a stop and we are running down the floor, we make really good decisions in the open floor. We don’t turn the ball over very much. Which is really good for how fast we play.”

With transition offense as one of their strengths, Argenal has yet to give up on the one part of the game he wants to focus on: strong defense.

“Our emphasis is going to be one of the better defensive teams in the league and we have a long way to go to get there,” said Argenal. “I think we have the pieces to do it. That is our number one focus in terms of basketball is the defensive side of it. Our motto is ‘attack, aggressive, confident.’ So hopefully when you see us play that is what you see.”

Despite being ranked tenth out of twelve teams in the annual California Collegiate Athletic Association Men’s basketball preseason coaches poll, Argenal believes his team has more than a chance to compete in this league.

“I am always expecting to win,” said Argenal. “If I don’t expect that, our players wont expect that. In terms of what I have seen from our team, we can win every game we play in the CCAA. Some are going to be tougher than others but I expect to win. Coming here I felt like we can do that sooner rather than later.”

The Pioneers face off against CSU Monterey on Saturday, before playing Menlo College on Monday as they finish up a five game home stand.

While only being a few games into his CSUEB coaching career, Argenal has his sights on lofty goals and believes CSUEB is the place to accomplish them.

“I feel like we can build a great program here, a long lasting, winning program,” said Argenal. “I feel like we can be a national power here. I know what it takes but that is my goal and those are the visions I have. I have always thought that we can be special here.”

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California State University East Bay
New Basketball Coach Brings Change in Culture