By Vanessa Saltos
Roaring fans and clapping hands fill Lumberjack Arena, as player #44 Cam Timmons scores the first basket of the ‘Jacks home opener Friday night. Cal Poly Humboldt is stepping into a new culture being led by first year Head Coach Chris Tifft. This new team is composed of eight freshmen, six transfers and two returners. Since the start of school in August, men’s basketball has been working hard in the weight room, conditioning and practicing leading up to their first game of the season.
In a press conference interview posted by Humboldt Jacks on YouTube on Oct. 31, Tift gave some insight on team values and what to expect this season. With having almost a whole new team this season it has been a huge priority to connect on and off the court to keep the team moving in the same direction.
“I think everything is connected. How you do anything is how you do everything. We really try to do things as a team. We talk a lot about our presence, our image, away from the floor, on the floor, just our image on campus [and] in the community.” Tifft said. “We want to make sure we are a program that is on the same page and moving in the same direction, and I think the more times we can do things like that, the more it will help us when things get tough.”
During the first half, fans were able to see that preparation and connection shine as the ‘Jacks jumped on top early with a score of 37-21 in the first half. After the break they continued to work hard but Simon Fraser started inching their way back. The last five minutes of the game is when it started to slip away for the ‘Jacks. The Red Leafs player, Elliot Dimaculangan, tied the game up at 68-68 with a steal followed by a layup in the paint. Simon Fraser’s Nigel Hylton went for a rebound and was able to take the lead with a layup. Then the Lumberjacks’ very own Pejan Slater responded back with a dunk that energized the crowd but wasn’t enough to take the lead. The Red Leafs continued to score and ultimately took the game in a 83-75 victory.
Going into this game Tifft talked with Humboldt Jacks about not looking at losing as a do or die situation for the team. He was excited to be able to start the season in Lumberjack Arena with fans cheering and supporting the team.
“We’re fortunate to have the opening challenge on our home court and you know even though it’s important for us to have home games and try to have some success, we can’t look at it as if we lose a game that it’s a do or die situation for us,” Tifft said. “I mean we’re obviously a brand new program with a lot of new faces and for us we just need to put the blinders on and keep moving forward. The results will take care of themselves.”
Some Lumberjack standouts for this game: Emmanuel Steward led the team with 20 points and eight rebounds; Rob Diaz III followed with 13 points; Pejan Slater had one dunk and tied with Liyongwei Xie at 10 points for the game.