Basketball: Newcomers and Returnees Build Chemistry With Season on the Horizon

It looks like this is shaping up to be a great year for USF as the team prepares to start its 2013-2014 season. Although their first game isn’t until Friday, Nov. 8 against Notre Dame De Namur University, the team is hard at work practicing for their upcoming season. The Dons have had a total of seven practices, with their first official practice on Sept. 27.

The Dons are coming off of a 2012-2013 season in which they finished with an overall record of 15-16. Head Coach Rex Walters is confident in this year’s team, which has gained many new players. Newcomers to the team include junior forward Kruize Pinkins (a transfer from Chipola College), sophomore forward Uche Ofoegbu (a transfer from Southern Methodist University), junior guard Corey Hilliard (a transfer from Midland College), junior center Derrell Robertson (a transfer from DePaul University), and freshman guard Dominique Williams (out of IMG Academy in El Granada, Calif).

Returning players include senior point guard Cody Doolin, junior guards Chris Adams, Gavin Hoffmann, and Matt Glover, sophomore guards Avry Holmes and Tim Derksen, sophomore forwards Matt Christiansen and Mark Tollefsen, senior forward Cole Dickerson, and sophomore center Tao Xu.

“Our team is more together than they’ve been in the past.” Walters said. “Right now, they’re trying to help each other every day, which is really good. Obviously we’d love for that to continue.”

This camaraderie between the returning and new players will definitely be something to look out for as the team continues to practice and condition for their upcoming season. It certainly caught the eye of their coach, who also stressed the importance of always working on defense. Although they may not all have similar playing backgrounds, they’ll draw on their individual experiences to better contribute to the team as they all work towards this year’s goal: playing a little faster.

“I think when you first start playing the game goes so fast, it’s a different level. As you get older the game slows down. Your true player comes out and it’s really fun. The better you get at basketball, the higher you rise– it’s a blast,” Doolin said.

Dons freshman Domonique Williams is also very optimistic about the upcoming season. Having a good mix of returning and new players has helped as the team begins to move forward in preparation for beginning their season, as they’ll be expected to work together and have each other’s backs on the court.

Dons fans can make sure to catch the team in the school’s second annual Hilltop Hoops Fest on Saturday, Oct. 19 in War Memorial Gym at 8 p.m.

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