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On the job training

Canyon High graduate Cody Anderson is gaining some early experience

Posted: February 2, 2009 10:12 p.m.
Updated: February 3, 2009 4:55 a.m.

Montana State's Cody Anderson, middle, prepares to rebound on Nov. 1.

 
The transition from high school to college can be difficult for anyone.

Cody Anderson was no different.

Anderson became the first high school basketball player from the Santa Clarita Valley to accept an NCAA Division I scholarship out of high school since Hart's Ali Peek did it in 1992, when he decided to head north to Bozeman, Mont. to play for Montana State University in 2008.

Following a dominant senior campaign with the Canyon Cowboys, in which Anderson averaged 18.5 points, 9.9 rebounds, 1.4 blocks and shot 54.5 percent from the field, Anderson turned his attention to the next level.

Not only did he have to get used to college life, but also life on the court.

"When I got up here, it was so much different in the post," Anderson says. "At the beginning of the year, I would almost shy away from it. Working with Divaldo and the coaching staff, I'm getting a lot better."

Divaldo is 6-foot-9-inch senior center Divaldo Mbunga.

Mbunga earned last week's Big Sky Conference Co-Player of the Week honors, and is averaging 11.3 points, 7 rebounds and 1.6 blocks per game.

His boards and blocks are the top conference averages.

A 2007-08 All-Big Sky Honorable Mention, Montana State head coach Brad Huse thinks Mbunga is in position to improve on the performance this season, and everyday Mbunga and Anderson compete against each other.

"It has been good for Cody to play against Divaldo in practice," Huse says. "It has been a great mentor/student relationship. I think that Cody has made Divaldo better."

Anderson, at 6-foot-10-inches and 290 pounds, matches up with the more experienced Mbunga daily, improving each other's offense, defense and rebounding.

Young and impressionable, the opportunity to learn from someone so experienced with equivalent size may prove invaluable down the road.

Currently, Anderson is averaging 2.6 points and 1.2 rebounds in 8.1 minutes through 17 games.

However, four of the last five contests, he has played 13 minutes three times and 11 against the defending Big Sky Conference champion Portland State University.

Against PSU, Anderson scored seven points on 3-for-3 shooting, including a 3-pointer with 4:23 to go in the game.

The Montana State Bobcats won 85-82.

"Most posts are not used to having to step out and guard the three," Huse says. "He's a great weapon for us."

Anderson's shooting touch and nimble footwork are the foundation for the forward/center, whom Huse believes is poised to have a great career with Montana State.

According to Huse, Anderson's post play is already beginning to develop.

In that same game against the Vikings, the day-to-day play against Mbunga's powerful low-post style paid its first dividends.

"I got a pass from one of our wings. I think it was Will Bynum," Anderson recalls. "I turned and faced (the basket). I backed (the defender) down and went with a little left baby hook and got my first post (basket) of the season."

However, the mentorship extends beyond athletics.

Anderson gives Mbunga and his team a lot of credit for helping him acclimate to life after high school.
They have shown him the ropes and made the transition easier.

In the meantime, the freshman's basketball progress may soon lead to a Mbunga/Anderson combination down low, according to Huse.

Noting that as Anderson has adapted to the college pace quickly for a freshman, Huse can rely more heavily on him.

"As we've gotten into the season, he has learned and our confidence in him has grown," Huse says. "His confidence in himself has grown. We don't lose very much when we go to him on the bench."

The upset win over Portland State might refuel the team.

According to Anderson, the Bobcats have taken on an up-tempo style in which they push the ball in transition rather than setting up a half-court offense.

Sitting at 11-9 overall and 6-5 in conference, Montana State still has the Big Sky Tournament on the horizon.

Success could mean a trip for Anderson and the Bobcats to the NCAA Tournament.


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