Coach Rex Walters gave the Dons a message of hope and improvement after the Dons 91-77 exhibition win over Cal State University Monterey Bay on Saturday. “If we get better we have a good chance to do some great things” he said.
The young Dons, whose game consisted of some fast paced offense and defense, are looking forward to a strong season. Coach Walters explained, “We want to be [fast paced]. But we need guys to stay out of foul trouble, we need to get a little more solidified back up play, and we need more solid play from our wing spots.” Dominance of the underneath and the opening of the outside shots is how the Dons came to victory over the Otters.
Both teams began the first half with a tight man to man defense that caused a quick passing game for both teams. Aside from a few bad passes, most of the game was fairly tight knit for both the Dons and the Otters.
However, in the first half, the Otters climbed back into competition with the Dons by a couple good 3 point shots from Keith Wilson. But the Dons responded by trying to open up outside shots to the guards and wings and having a good inside presences with Senior Forward Dior Lowhorn and Freshman Forward Perris Blackwell.
After a brief timeout by Monterey Bay, USF responded with a tighter defense, which brought more pressure from a full court press.
Monterey Bay tried to regain momentum going into the half by screening and breaking through the inside of the man defense of the Dons. However, the Dons responded well with a couple of 3 point and underneath shots by Sophomore Forward Angelo Caloiaro.
The first half was a real fight for owning the paint by both teams. The intensity of both teams hard work had several timeout interruptions to reset and re-establish a foundation to work off of. However, the first half ended with a score of 50-36 USF over CSUMB.
The second half saw the same intensity of the first, but by five minutes into the second half the Otters had switched into a zone defense to try to slow down the Dons presence in the inside and force a perimeter game for the Dons.
A couple of three point shots by Senior Forward Blake Wallace, reopened the inside game for USF and the tireless defense continued their pressure game forcing a few bad shots by the Otters.
However, with 6:24 left to play the Dons saw a very comfortable lead dwindle to 73-63. The defense of the Dons seemed to slow down, while the production from the offense began to slow down. Lowhorn explained, “We should have been more spread offensively. But defensively, we got to do better because we shouldn’t have allowed them to score seventy-seven points.”
Still, even with a win to open the season, the Dons are aware of their need to improve as Sophomore Forward Angelo Caloiaro said “I’m just happy we got the win. But overall as a team we still got to improve and that’s our concern right now.”
One of the things that they wanted to be improved is as Coach Walters explained it, “We did some good things early. But we’re a very young, inexperienced team that doesn’t know how to close out a game. And that understanding that how you extend a lead, is the same as how you got the lead.”
With all the hard work they put in the off-season and the summer such as, “[taking] a summer class. [And] we’d all hit the gym together, get shots up and work our handles” describes Angelo Caloiaro, the Dons will continue to move in the right direction.
There is no doubt that we should see some improvement, especially if the team abides by the saying of Coach Walters as Dior Lowhorn said “Coach Walters said ‘if you fall, you gotta get right back up and get to the play.’”