Friday, January 17, 2014

USD Men's Basketball Off to a Strong Start

By Mark Kramer, Exclusive to the CC NEWS

The USD men’s basketball team garnered significant buzz after their strong finish to last season. They entered this season as a popular breakout candidate in the West Coast Conference, and their strong  start has only helped grow the buzz. After averaging just 14.5 wins per season the past two years, the Toreros already boast double digit wins with much of the West Coast Conference schedule left to play. The team is currently 10-8 and has even looked impressive in their close losses. The Toreros played tough in a visit to powerhouse New Mexico and came a last second miss away from upsetting the San Diego State Aztecs who are currently ranked #10 in the nation. The Toreros are proving they have what it takes to hang with any team on their schedule.

We are now in the thick of the West Coast Conference schedule, and the Toreros are among a number of contenders. It may be the deepest the league has ever been with multiple teams vying for the top seeds in the WCC Tournament in March. The Toreros are facing a challenging early WCC schedule with seven of their first nine games on the road, but that means plenty of critical games down the stretch will be played inside the friendly confines of the Jenny Craig Pavilion.

A hallmark of the Toreros early success has been their defense. The Toreros boast the number one scoring defense in the conference holding opponents to just over 64 points per game. Rarely does a star player have a big game against the Toreros, allowing the team to stay competitive in any game.

However, the Toreros are much more than a defensive team. A number of dynamic players combine on the offensive end to give the team multiple threats. The scoring starts with junior guard Johnny Dee, a San Diego native from Vista. Once a walk-on player, Dee has turned into one of the most accurate and lethal shooters in the entire nation. Dee is 5th in the WCC in points per game and 24th in the nation in three pointers made. Leave Dee open, and he will likely shoot and make a huge shot that can put a dagger in the heart of any opponent.

Complementing Dee in the backcourt is fellow junior guard Chris Anderson.  Playing the role of facilitator, Anderson has been dishing assists to Dee and the rest of the Toreros at an amazing pace. He leads the conference in assists per game and ranks 18th in the nation in that category. New this season, the Toreros also boast another scoring threat to complement Dee in Republic of Georgia native Duda Sanadze. The redshirt sophomore plays with an amazing intensity developed through his time playing with the Georgian national team. Sanadze is the second leading scorer on the team and if Dee isn’t hitting a big shot, it’s likely in the hands of Sanadze.

Rounding out the impact players are the frontcourt of Dennis Kramer and Jito Kok. Kramer has blossomed into a dual threat in his senior season averaging 11.7 points and 6.7 rebounds per game. Like Sanadze, Kramer has international experience having spent time with the German Under-18 national team before coming to USD. Kok, a sophomore from the Netherlands, continues to build off a strong freshman season. He led the WCC in blocks last year and continues to continue to rank among the top shot blockers in the conference. At any moment you could witness a Kramer rebound and hook shot or a thunderous Kok block in between an Anderson assist or big shot by Dee or Sanadze.

The WCC schedule is just getting underway, and there are plenty of chances coming to witness some exciting Torero basketball. You can catch this action LIVE now through March 1st in the Jenny Craig Pavilion. Don’t miss key home games including Gonzaga, Saint Mary’s, and BYU. Season and single game tickets are on sale NOW. Learn more by calling the ticket office at 619-260-7550 or visit www.usdtoreros.com.

While you’re there check out or new promotions page for the latest news about upcoming in-game promotions and contests. Take advantage of everything from ticket discounts to free giveaways and even bigger contests like the Wells Fargo Shootout where you can win ten thousand dollars!
Cheer on your local Toreros as they look to turn heads and make a run at the WCC Championship and the NCAA Tournament. What time is it? TORERO TIME!

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