Basketball team

Toreros men’s basketball team have better athletes this season and need more wins

The 2020-21 USD men’s basketball season was the most memorable for what didn’t happen. The Toreros have not played 14 games due to COVID restrictions. They did not play or practice for 42 days due to three 14-day stops.

And they haven’t won many games, going 3-11.

Combined with a 9-23 record the previous season, the USD is 12-34 over the past two years and Sam Scholl, now in his fourth full season as a head coach, is believed to be under pressure. to win.

“Sam said there was some pressure on them,” a rival college assistant coach said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Scholl said: “You always feel the pressure. It doesn’t matter what year you left. But I consider it a privilege. It means people care about what we do. We will embrace this.

The USD officially began fall training on Tuesday with the Nov. 9 season opener at home against LaVerne at 42 days. Here are five pressing questions the team faces.

What’s new?

For the second year in a row, the roster has been completely revamped with nine new players, including five transfers from Division I. The difference between last year’s reshuffle and this one?

Watch a practice and it is obvious that this team is much more athletic and talented. The five transfers include three of the top six conferences in college basketball – 6-6 forward Marcellus Earlington (St. John’s), 6-11 post Terrell Brown (Pitt) and 6-4 goaltender TJ Berger (Georgetown) .

The other two transfers, 5-11 Bryce Monroe (Sam Houston State) and 6-3 Jase Townsend (University of Denver), will almost certainly start in the backcourt.

“They got better,” the rival assistant coach said. “Like with a lot of people in college basketball, it’s how you deal with it, how you put it all together, how you get them to join.”

Who makes the difference?

No doubt, it’s Townsend. He’s averaged 19.2 and 16.9 points over the past two seasons in Denver, including 22 games with 20 or more points.

“He’s just a guy who can create offense,” said Scholl.

Which is desperately needed. The Toreros have been woefully incompetent offensively over the past two seasons. Out of 340 Division I programs, the USD was ranked 281st last season for scorers (66.2), 284th for shots (41.6%), 307th for 3-pointers (30.4) and 317th for free throws (65.0).

Over the summer, the USD played a three-game 5v5 streak. After two days, the streak was tied with one win apiece.

“I remember walking into the weight room (the morning of Game 3) and Jace just had a different nature,” Scholl said. “He said, ‘We are winning.’ “

Townsend’s team won the deciding game by 20 points.

Scholl said: “He just has an innate competitiveness.”

Who runs the show?

Unless there is an injury, it will be Monroe as the point guard. He was the Southland Conference freshman last season, which is good news. The bad news? He shot just 38.1% from the field, but a very good 83.3% from the line.

“He’s a dynamic playmaker on both ends of the pitch,” said Scholl. “He can really chase it and keep the ball. “

Last year’s starting playmaker, Torrey Pines product Finn Sullivan has moved to Vermont.

Where is McKinney located?

A muscular and athletic 6-foot guard, McKinney was ranked as a three-star Coronado High rookie, making him the highest-rated player USD has ever signed. To hear from Scholl, the first year did not disappoint in the offseason training.

“He has a maturity in him that goes beyond his years,” said Scholl. “Wayne did a great job just focusing on the rebound, defense and not flipping it. I’m very comfortable with Wayne on the ground.

The hit with McKinney is that he’s not a good outside shooter. If Monroe and McKinney fight in depth, it will be easier for opponents to defend Townsend.

Who are the starting five?

If the Toreros played a game today it would be Monroe, senior Joey Calcaterra (last year’s top scorer with 13.3 points), Townsend and two big guys, Josh Parrish and Brown.

Scholl, however, believes his rotation will run to at least nine depths with McKinney, Berger, Earlington, Yavuz Gultekin and Vladimir Pinchuk registering significant minutes.

“There’s going to be a tough decision for me to make in terms of who to start,” said Scholl.

Norcross is a freelance writer.

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