THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. – Cal Lutheran men's basketball coach Rich Rider knew there would be some growing pains with his team this season.
The Kingsmen have seven freshmen and only two seniors on the roster.
"We are young and improving and I still think we have a long way to go to get better," Rider said. "I wanted us to be more consistent earlier, and that hasn't been the case. But each game we are learning and getting better and are very, very competitive."
CLU's consistency issues are reflected in its record. The Kingsmen (3-4, 1-1 SCIAC) have alternated wins and losses.
They are hoping to get back over .500 with three games this week.
CLU hosts Claremont-Mudd-Scripps in SCIAC play Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. before participating in the SCIAC Classic during the weekend.
CLU hosts Puget Sound on Saturday at 3 p.m. and plays UC Santa Cruz at Caltech on Sunday at 1.
SCIAC play started in December this season because of the addition of Chapman to the conference.
Considering CLU's inexperience and growth potential, projected finishes are difficult to make.
"This is the first time we've had so many games so early, and feel like it's too early to tell how things are going to play out," Rider said. "Pomona and Redlands are very good and Whittier is really talented. I don't think it will really sort itself out until late January or early February."
The youth movement at CLU includes local products Dan Wade (Oxnard High) and Corey Quintana (Ventura High).
Wade, a 5-foot-10 freshman point guard, and Quintana, a 6-foot-7 freshman center, are expected to play significant roles for CLU the remainder of the season.
"We are very pleased with them," Rider said. "We are starting Corey now because he has really come to us well-prepared from Ventura High and playing for Coach (Dan) Larson. We thought it would take him longer to get adjusted, but he has stepped right in and made contributions from day one."
CLU has only five games remaining in the month of December. The Kingsmen plan to use the extra practice time to fix deficiencies and continue striving for more consistency before returning to SCIAC play next month.
"I want to just solidify our eight-to-nine man rotation," Rider said. "I think it's still a very fluid situation, which is normal when you have a young team. But I like this team and I think we are going to get better and better as the season goes along."