Men’s basketball looks to bounce back

Richard Dawson |Staff Writer|

The past few weeks have been full of highs and lows for the CSUSB men’s basketball program.

Just over a week ago the team had a three-game win streak, culminating with head coach Jeff Oliver’s 200th win for CSUSB.

That win was supposed to be a momentum builder, but turnovers have cost the Coyotes in the the past two games.

It’s an unfamiliar feeling for the program because its the first time they have lost back to back games during Oliver’s tenure.

“As a team we need to work on our fundamentals, get back to the basics. We have committed a ton of silly turnovers and its inexcusable.” said Oliver. “The good news is with work, the turnovers are correctable.”

The 49 turnovers over the two losses are magnified because statistically the Coyotes (8-4 CCAA, 9-6 overall) have been playing very well holding the rebounding advantage in both games and shooting a high percentage in field goal attempts.

Three-point defense will be another point of focus. In the Coyotes loss to Sonoma State, junior point guard Will Olsem hit 12 shots from behind the arc which left him one shy of the NCAA record for one game. It was the first Sonoma win in San Bernardino since March 3, 2006.

The team will head to SFSU before starting a tough five game stretch against Cal Poly Pomona, Cal State Dominguez Hills, Cal State L.A., Cal State Stanislaus, and Chico State, all of whom are sporting winning records.

The good news for the Coyotes is that after playing Pomona, the remaining games will all be at the Coussoulis Arena.

Home court can be a huge asset when trying to make a move in the standings.

“We had a great opportunity to separate ourselves against Sonoma and Humboldt, but after those two losses we are in more of a position of survival,” Oliver said referencing the parity of the CCAA this season.

Any late season push starts with Thursday night’s game at San Francisco State.

The Gators have struggled this season with a 2-10 record in the  CCAA and a 4-14 record overall.

The Coyotes beat the Gators earlier this season here at home 73-54.

Oliver reiterated that despite their record, the Coyotes won’t take them lightly.

“You can look back to last year when we beat them here at home (84-60) but went on the road and got beat (72-81). There is no taking a game for granted, especially this time of year.”

 Tough stretches can bring the best out of teams and certain players can find a way to step up. Oliver said the team is still searching for that player(s).

“There is a lot of new faces this season so we don’t have a de facto leader. Hopefully, as the season progresses someone will fill that role for us.”

Standout players from the past five games include: senior Tre Brewer, averaging 15.8 points during that time, fellow senior Theron Laudermill who has averaged 14.8 points and 7.6 rebounds including two double-doubles and junior Kwame Alexander who has also had two double-doubles while averaging 12.8 points and 10.6 rebounds.

Though down, this team is most certainly not out. Look for the Coyotes to bounce back with a vengeance beginning this Thursday night.

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