While warming up before tip off of the USF men’s basketball team season opener against Seattle University, freshman guard Marko Petrovic could not keep himself from smiling.
Considering it was his, and eight other freshmen’s, first college basketball game, his excitement was understandable.
Though many are wondering how such a youthful team will fair in the WCC this year, it was that youthful energy and excitement that propelled the Dons to a 97-76 victory over the Red Hawks Friday night.
“The energy was great,” said head coach Rex Walters, adding, “that’s what we have to do. We have to be tough.”
And the Dons certainly were tough, out rebounding Seattle 49 to 37, including thirteen from junior forward Angelo Caloiaro. Caloiaro also netted eighteen points, a team high. Sophomore guard Michael Williams added eighteen points off the bench.
The Dons snatched ten steals by causing deflections and rotating on defense like a clock.
After one steal that came with 8:06 left in the first half, a USF guard threw the ball ahead to Rashad Green streaking down the left sideline.
Green cuffed the ball in his left forearm off the dribble, rose, and flushed it through the rim, shaking the backboard, and bringing the crowd to their feet.
Excitement on the court also came from the four freshmen who saw solid minutes, Dominique O’ Connor, Cody Doolin, Cole Dickerson, and especially Petrovic.
Petrovic added 14 points, connecting on three three-pointers, including one in the second half that rolled around the rim before falling through the net. After the ball went in, Petrovic ran down the court, eyes wide, screaming, “What’s my name! What’s my name!”
O’ Connor, a red shirt freshman from Los Angeles, showed confidence in his ability to get to the hoop and it seemed he could do it whenever he wanted to.
Doolin, a guard from Austin, Texas, showed the ability to control the offense, break the press, and make good decisions with the ball. At one point Doolin, made two straight cross overs to go by two defenders, slicing through the lane and finishing at the rim with his left hand. The very next play after breaking the press, Doolin stopped at the left elbow and delivered a bounce pass across the paint to Caloiaro on the right block, who then finished with an and-one lay up, to end a Seattle run.
“I was a little nervous to start,” Doolin said after the game, as he ate a turkey sandwich, “but we got experienced players.”
Doolin added, “You realize it’s just basketball, just like you’ve been playing your whole life.”
It’s the experience of the few upper classmen on the Dons roster that is keeping the team focused on Wednesday’s game at San Jose State.
“We’re not satisfied,” said Caloiaro, “we know that’s just the start. We’re excited about this year.”
Editor-in-Chief: Heather Spellacy
Chief Copy-Editor: Burke McSwain
Sports Editor: Matt Steinbach