Honestly, not much. Cal State Northridge is one of the hardest jobs in the Big West: Their facilities are high school-esque, the athletic department is in shambles, the Matadors can’t seem to keep players (CSUN lost eight non-seniors from last year) and CSUN is not an appealing option for local talent. On top of all that, Gottfried’s numerous appearances in the FBI’s college basketball case is alarming.
With that said, this season is as blank of a slate as they come. A successful first season under Gottfried would involve staying out of the FBI/NCAA’s microscope, shooting for .500 and a Big West Tournament appearance (eight of the conference’s nine teams make it).
2. With a new coach usually brings in a new style of play, so what can New Mexico expect to see in terms of a scheme?
Gottfried’s teams were usually defined by their quick, efficient offenses. During their pair of exhibitions, the Matadors scored most of their points in the paint thanks to freshman forward Lamine Diane. They’ll go through Diane in high post quite a bit, which will eventually open up the outside shot for guards Terrell Gomez and Alex Sokol.
3. Will this experienced coaching staff which includes former UCLA head coach Jim Harrick get this team in the top half of the Big West?
Not right away. The Big West’s top half seems set in stone for at least another two seasons, so it’ll take Northridge some time to catch up with the conference’s better, more established programs. Having reigning Big West Freshman of the Year Terrell Gomez certainly helps — he’ll be an all-conference first-teamer by his junior season — but as mentioned earlier, Gottfried and company are basically starting from scratch.
4. Who are the key players that New Mexico needs to pay attention to?
Terrell Gomez should be the first name on the scouting report. The 5’8 sophomore is a quick, score-first point guard with a knack for the outside shot. If freshman forward Lamine Diane’s exhibition performances (26.5 ppg, 15.5 rpg) is indicative of things to come, then he should be a breakout player in the Big West this season. The third player to watch is sophomore shooting guard Alex Sokol, who at 6’5 has good size for a mid-major shooting guard and a good touch from three.
5. How do you see this game playing out?
CSUN will make things interesting for the first ten minutes, but they simply do not have the experience or talent to hang with the Lobos for very long. Expect New Mexico’s defense to stymie CSUN in a comfortable 15-point win.