Without a big bruiser inside, the Cal State East Bay men's basketball team has taken a few lumps in the California Collegiate Athletic Association.
But the Pioneers will just keep battling. That's been their modus operandi under coach Will Biggs.
"We're holding up well," senior forward Durrell Turner of Hayward said. "We're just thinking about the next opponent: We have to make sure we train and prepare for them. We have stuff to handle that is right in front of us.
"We feel if we win, then everything will take care of itself."
In an up-and-down season, the Pioneers (5-8, 4-6 CCAA) will hit the road for games at Cal State Stanislaus on Friday and Chico State on Saturday. They have lost three straight, all at home, after winning their first three at Pioneer Gym this season.
Offensive rebounding is sometimes a challenge for a cohesive team composed of good shooters and tough defenders.
"Every team is different by design," said Turner, a 6-foot-5 Mt. Eden High graduate. "There is no set way to play basketball because every person brings different qualities to the game.
"We just need to find the best way for our team to overcome that standard of not having a big bruiser in there."
Turner and Fremont-Oakland graduate Gabe Kindred, a 6-foot-2 junior guard, are integral parts of a team that boasts six players with East Bay ties. The others are Jacari Whitfield (St. Joseph Notre Dame), Kenneth Farr II
Former Berkeley star Mark Samuels, the team's leading scorer last season at 16.2 points a game, is a medical redshirt who supports the team at all the games.
Turner, who's averaging 9.7 points and 4.2 rebounds a game, transferred from NAIA school Wiley College (Texas), where he redshirted in 2010-11, after playing two seasons for Mendocino College in Ukiah. The former youth baseball star pitched for two years at Mt. Eden.
The touted Kindred, a transfer from Salt Lake City Community College, was a bright spot in the Pioneers' 69-60 loss against UC San Diego on Jan. 19, with team highs of 20 points and eight rebounds. He was 8 for 8 from the free-throw line, 6 of 10 from the floor and tacked on two steals.
Kindred has bounced around a bit. After starring at Fremont, he played for Worcester Academy (Mass.) in 2008-09, where his stock soared. He was named team MVP, an honor shared by current Golden State Warrior Jarrett Jack, was a co-captain and made the dean's list.
Kindred moved on to Division I Loyola-Chicago but missed the 2009-10 season after suffering a broken foot in the preseason. He appeared in 24 games (seven starts) in 2010-11 before transferring to Salt Lake City, where he adjusted to another new system and felt a little homesick.
"I wanted to be recruited to go back to Division I so much," Kindred said recently.
"I felt that was where I was supposed to play. I felt I could do damage at that level, but I had to grow up because sometimes things don't work out."
PIONEER WOMEN: Cal State East Bay senior forward Marlene MacMillan (Tracy) is averaging 8.6 points a game and is fourth in the CCAA in rebounding (7.8 rpg). In her past four games, MacMillan averaged 11.7 points and 11 rebounds.
JUCO JUMPERS: Ranked sixth in the state, the Ohlone College men's basketball team will host red-hot rival Chabot at 3 p.m. on Saturday. Damarius Jones (18 ppg) and Glen Brown (15.3 ppg) lead Chabot. Balanced Contra Costa is paced by Davion Mize (11.8 ppg) and Pershante Hill (13.4 ppg, Bay Valley Conference). The Comets, tied for 11th in the Northern California rankings, handed Merritt its first conference loss, 79-73 on Jan. 19.