Cal State East Bay Coach Bryan Rooney has yet to receive the recognition he justly deserves. Maybe it’s due to the lack of overall publicity garnered by college basketball in the Bay Area or his not coaching at the D1 level but after ten seasons, 200 wins, seven California Pacific Conference championships and five NAIA national tournament entries during his tenure at California Maritime Academy in Vallejo and two seasons now in Hayward (initially going 10-18, 6-16 followed by 22-8, 16-6 in 2018-19), Rooney has amply demonstrated he can both turn programs around followed by maintaining success.
That 16-6 California Collegiate Athletic Conference (CCAA) earned him Coach of the Year honors and finishing 22-8 anchored his selection as National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC) West Region Coach of the Year. It was Cal State East Bay’s first 20-win season since 1999-2000 and the Pioneers also earned a first-ever appearance in the CCAA tournament.
A quartet of Rooney’s players achieved All-CCAA status:
- Juwan (Bishop O’Dowd) Anderson, First Team
- Evan (Santa Clara) Wardlow, First
- Ant (San Lorenzo High and Cañada College) Navarette, Second Team
- Nai (San Jose State University) Carlisle, Second Team
On the court, Rooney’s crew enjoyed an overall plus 5.5 points per game differential over opponents, shooting .445, .328 and .742 to .413, .298 and .683. Cal State East Bay also finished in front with rebounds, assists and steals as well as committing fewer turnovers.
Plus, the Pioneers also nailed it in the classroom as Cal State East Bay’s 3.11 collective grade point average brought home the National Association of Basketball Coaches 2018-19 Team Academic Excellence Award.
Navarette, Wardlow and Carlisle all return for the 2019-20 season. Navarette scored 12.5 points while grabbing 6.8 rebounds a game, both team highs while Wardlow contributed 11.6 points plus 5.1 boards nightly. Carlisle posted averages of 12.2 points and 3.2 rebounds. Both Carlisle and Wardlow were credited with 35 steals.
Juwan Anderson’s leadership at the point will be missed as he produced 12.1 points and 3.1 boards alongside a team high 121 trips to the foul line, a squad best 150 assists (versus 64 turnovers) and also 42 steals, yet another category in which he paced the Pioneers.
As newcomers to the Pioneer court, look for Loyola Marymount transfer Zafir Williams to be a major factor upfront and all-around assistance generated by Malik McCowan in the backcourt.
Cal State East Bay’s 2019-20 roster
- Evan Wardlow G 6-4 185 Santa Clara University
- Nai Carlisle G 6-1 Jr. 190 San Jose State
- Wyatt Maker F 6-8 Jr. 220 Palma HS
- Ant Navarrete F 6-5 Sr. 225 San Leandro High/Cañada College
- Miles Crawford G 6-2 Sr. 175 Citrus College
- Steven Daily F 6-5 Sr. 210 College Park High/Diablo Valley College
- Trent Warren G 6-6 Sr. 205 Australia
- Jesse Galloway G 5-10 So. 165 Long Beach Poly
- John Duff F 6-10 So. 195 Long Beach Poly
- Justin Vigil F 6-7 So. 210 Fall River High
- Ben Wood F 6-5 Jr. 200 Las Lomas High/Diablo Valley College
- Zack Perlstein G 6-4 So. 190 Vacaville High
- Julian Lopez G 6-4 Fr. 180 Los Altos High
- Josh Dhatt G 6-5 Jr. River Valley High/Yuba College
- Malik McCowan G 6-3 Jr. 180 Porterville College
- Zafir Williams F 6-6 JR 230 Loyola Marymount
- Corey Fiddes F 6-7 FR 215 Australia
- Kaito Williams G 6-2 FR 190 Sheldon High
- Isaiah Saams-Hoy G 6-4 FR 195 Eastside Prep
Rooney’s squads are also noted for their unselfish play and visible sense of team camaraderie. Sooner or later, this long-term record of Rooney-generated, well-rounded prosperity will result in his being in play for future openings at northern California D1 four-year universities. Some athletic directors in this area need to wake up.