By Ryan Libby |Staff Writer|
The men’s basketball team is anxious for the new season to start after suffering a 61-60 loss in the final seconds to Sonoma State last year.
New players have flooded the roster for the Coyotes as the team only returns four starters from last season and leaving head coach Jeff Oliver happy for the new beginning.
“Well it’s nice to turn the page and move on because we have so many new faces [players],” Oliver said when looking back on the loss to Sonoma State last year.
“It’d be a little different if we had a lot of returners and [the loss] was kind of brewing all through the off season.”
On paper the roster is new, but nearly every player on the team this year has had some experience playing in college.
Oliver brought in nine new players from local colleges and he also returns two red-shirt players from his team last season. Oliver is already pleased with what he sees forming within the locker room claiming that team chemistry will be one of the keys to winning the close games that they lost last year.
“I think one thing that we’ll definitely have is chemistry,” he said. “I think that’s why we lost so many close games was because of our lack of chemistry.”
The Coyotes lost six games by less than ten points last season and is looking to turn those close games into victories this year. It will also be interesting to see how the team handles turmoil.
“We weren’t able to deal with adversity well [last year],” said Oliver. “I think this group is a little more tight knit, a lot more tight knit and that’s a good start.”
Oliver hopes to remain at the top of the CCAA with rebounding and a strong physical presence inside the paint as CSUSB is ranked third in the preseason coaches poll.
They will have to play without first team All-CCAA forward Kwame Alexander who will have to sit the first four games of the season due to academic probation.
“[Alexander] brings an inside presence for us that we don’t have when he’s not there,” Oliver said.
Oliver is looking for an improved Pablo Genevo to fill the void during Alexander’s absence.
As far as the games on the schedule the Coyotes will enter each game with a level head.
Coach Oliver doesn’t see any one game being tougher than the other.
“Our conference is very, very good this year again,” he said.
The Coyotes are looking forward to hosting the Holiday Classic Dec. 17-18 at the Ontario Center where they played UCLA closely in a close exhibition game last year.
Be sure to attend the Coyotes season opener against Cal Tech Wednesday, Nov. 7 at Coussoulis Arena. Game time is 7:30 p.m.