By Aaron Hughes |Staff Writer|
The CSUSB men’s basketball team looks to be the real deal.
The Coyotes suffered a narrow loss to UCLA in a game that they were expected to lose heavily.
“Division II basketball is no joke,” said coach Jeff Oliver. “The top part of division two, which we’re part of, can compete with anyone in Division I. That’s what people need to understand.”
Despite the loss Oliver remains upbeat and is happy about where the team is at thus far.
“So far so good,” said Oliver. “I thought our point guard play could’ve been better but for the most part we’re on track and we’ll be better as the season goes on.”
Too many turnovers and UCLA’s big man were the main reasons behind the loss.
“(Against UCLA) We had too many turnovers,” said Oliver. “We competed hard and when they went ahead by 9 or 10 points we battled back and made it a game. In the end, their big guy was just too much to handle. Obviously we want to win but I was proud of the guys.”
UCLA’s size advantage might continue to be a problem once the Coyotes conference play begins.
“The conference is bigger than it usually is this year,” said Oliver. “I thought on against UCLA we were probably the more athletic team even though they were bigger in stature. I thought we were more athletic and quicker to the ball.”
“I think the strength of team this year will be our front line,” said Oliver. “We’ll work (the ball) inside out; I believe it’s always good to work that way.”
The Coyotes have added some serious size this season with the addition of 6-foot-10-inches Pablo Genevo, a native of Spain. Returner Theron Laudermill at 6-foot-7-inches will also be an aerial threat.
Despite their size, Oliver maintains that the team won’t be relying on all-stars, but that they will need consistent performers.
“We don’t really have stars here that are going to average 20 points per game,” said Oliver. “But we do have All-Americans that only average 13 points a game. Players like Theron Laudemill, Kwame Alexander and Trey Brewer will probably be our most consistent performers.”
“Being bigger will help us, as long as we utilize it in the right way,” said Oliver.
Laudermill, Alexander and Brewer will no doubt have a big role to play for the Coyotes this season but Oliver is convinced that there are other guys who can also step up.
“There is a group of guys who can be standout players for us this season,” said Oliver. “It will all depend on match ups on the given night.”
Last season the Coyotes finished 17-10, a record that Oliver is not pleased with.
“Terrible,” said Oliver. “Teams in the past have set the bar pretty high and I’ve told the guys that. We didn’t compete last season effort-wise. We’re trying to change that.”
The season will only be considered a success if the team will be able to hang their own championship banner at its conclusion.
“We’ve talked about the banners and we want to be able to hang our own for this season,” said Oliver.
“Our goals are always the same, conference championship, regional championship and then some day a national championship.”