Sunday, December 21, 2008

It's USF at Walt McPherson Court Monday night

USF remains in the midst of a make-over in men's basketball and is heading in an upward direction. A culture change was sorely needed as 2007-2008 was lowlighted with Jesse Evans' dismissal in the middle of last season as the culmination of a brutal clash with his AD. Eddie Sutton then came aboard as an interim head coach to finish out the schedule. Let's just say the season was circus-like and best forgotten. Hopefully, the kids in the program are now receiving the experience they deserve and no longer pawns in any sort of fray.

THE USF HEAD COACH (courtesy of USF athletics)

Coach Rex Walters comes to USF from Florida Atlantic University. In his first season at the helm, Walters guided Florida Atlantic to its second consecutive winning season. It was the first time the program posted back-to-back winning campaigns since 1989 to 1992.

In 2006-07, the Owls won 10 Sun Belt Conference games, the third-most for a first-year Sun Belt member. The team also set a program scoring record, averaging 74.9 points per game. Two of Walters' players were named Second Team All-Sun Belt. The Owls were 15-18 and 8-10 in Sun Belt Conference play in 2007-08.

Prior to Florida Atlantic, Walters' first collegiate coaching job came at Valparaiso, a two-year stint as an assistant under Homer Drew. The 2003-04 Hornets were 18-13 overall and advanced to the NCAA Tournament after capturing the Mid-Continent Conference with a record of 11-5...

...Walters first made his name known in college, starring for two seasons at Kansas. In 68 starts under Roy Williams, he averaged 15.6 points per game, leading the Jayhawks in scoring during both his junior and senior campaigns.

KU combined to go 56-12 overall in 1991-92 and 1992-93, winning back-to-back Big Eight titles, capped by a trip to the 1993 Final Four. Walters was named to the All-Big Eight team both seasons and was Big Eight Male Athlete of the Year as a senior in 1993...

...After graduating from Kansas in 1993 with a B.S. in education, Walters was selected by New Jersey as the 16th overall pick in the 1993 NBA Draft. He went on to play seven seasons in total with the Nets, Philadelphia 76ers and Miami Heat, averaging 4.6 points and 1.7 assists per game in 13.7 minutes.

Walters averaged a career-best 6.8 points per game for Philadelphia in 1996-97, and made 67 career starts in 335 games. His career assist-to-turnover ratio was nearly two-to-one. He was New Jersey's top three-point shooter in 1994-95 (36.2%) and Philadelphia's top long-range marksman in 1996-97 (38.5%). A fierce competitor, Walters averaged 12.8 points and 7.3 assists per game in eight starts for the 76ers to end the 1995-96 season.

Walters' professional career spanned nine seasons in total, ending in 2002 after playing internationally for two years and winning an American Basketball Association title with the Kansas City Knights.

(Our note: we would be remiss not to mention that one of Walters' children is named Gunner. That seems pretty cool).


USF's season highlights include a win on the road against BSU: "Junior forward Dior Lowhorn scored a game-high 20 points and freshman guard Kwame Vaughn added a career-high 18 leading USF to a 79-76 triumph against Boise State Saturday night in non-conference action at Boise's Taco Bell Arena...USF shot .519 (27-52) from the field, including a remarkable season-best .650 (13-20) from 3-point range. After being abused on the boards in its last contest at Pacific, the Dons won the battle of the boards 30-26 against the defending WAC Champions."

And this also counts -- another road victory again against a WAC team: "USF overcame a slow start and held off a furious late Hawaii rally to seize a 75-70 victory at the Stan Sheriff Center...Junior forward Blake Wallace dazzled in his San Francisco debut, scoring a game-high 21 points on 7-of-12 from the field, including 4-of-7 from beyond the arc to go along with seven rebounds and two blocked shots. Junior forward Dior Lowhorn added 16 points and four rebounds despite playing just four minutes in the first half after picking up his second personal foul."

But this one won't be so fondly remembered: "USF began its five-game December road trip with a 66-60 loss to Pacific Tuesday night in non-conference action at the Spanos Center. The Dons (6-4) shot the ball much better than the Tigers (4-3), but were out-rebounded 39-17 as Pacific claimed its fourth consecutive win in the series. Junior forward Blake Wallace and senior guard Manny Quezada were the only Dons in double-digit scoring with 11 points apiece. Freshman guard Kwame Vaughn chipped in nine points and four assists, while forward Angelo Caloiaro added nine - all in the first half - with three assists. San Francisco shot at a .523 (23-44) pace from the field and limited Pacific to .449 (22-49), but the Tigers dominated on the boards. Pacific ripped down 16 offensive rebounds, while the Dons managed just two. The Tigers scored 14 points on second chance opportunities."

Nor this one: "San Francisco had a miserable shooting night and dropped a 61-40 decision to Cal Poly. San Francisco shot a dismal .246 (15-61) from the field, including a dreadful .050 (1-20) mark from 3-point distance. Junior forward Dior Lowhorn was the lone bright spot for the Dons with a game-high 21 points with nine rebounds."

This contest probably falls somewhere in between: "Dior Lowhorn scored a team-high 23 points, leading four USF players in double-digit scoring, but USC held on for a 74-69 non-conference decision Monday night at the Galen Center. In the 20th overall meeting between the two teams and the first since 1971, the Dons fell just short against the Trojans. Blake Wallace and Kwame Vaughn added 13 points each. "

Here's the full USFschedule to date:

11/14/08 at Hawai'i W, 75-70
11/16/08 vs. Texas State W, 88-74
11/18/08 at California L, 87-74
11/21/08 vs. Academy of Art W, 74-23
11/24/08 vs. UC Santa Barbara W, 73-72
11/29/08 vs. Colorado State W, 65-63
12/01/08 at USC L, 74-69
12/03/08 at Cal Poly L, 61-40
12/06/08 vs. Long Beach State W, 78-74 (2OT)
12/09/08 at Pacific L, 66-60
12/13/08 at Boise State W, 79-76


Blake Wallace
6-6 JR 10.6 ppg., 5.0 rpg.
Angelo Caloiaro 6-7 FR 6.0 ppg., 3.2 rpg.
Dior Lowhorn 6-7 JR 19.8 ppg., 6.2 rpg.
Dontae Bryant 6-2 JR 5.2 ppg., 2.5 rpg., 3.5 apg.
Kwame Vaughn 6-3 FR 11.2 ppg., 3.5 apg.

Notice the two freshman -- it is also a lineup with four new starters.

Lowhorn -- Dior is out of the East Bay and spent a year at Texas Tech (Bob Knight) before leaving Lubbock. He is a beast inside, strong and athletic. Containing or countering him will be one key to success for SJSU. Lowhorn is shooting .485% overall and a remarkable .552% (16-29) on his threes -- this despite him not having a rep for distance shooting. He's put up twice as many shots as any other Don so CJ Webster and Chris Oakes will have a challenge on their hands. 27 of Lowhorn's 68 rebounds are at the offensive end so blocking out will be a necessity, both after he takes a shot and when his teammates do. He's chalked up but seven assists in 11 games so the ball either isn't coming back out very often or his teammates aren't shooting proficiently when he kicks it out.

Wallace - A starter in all 11 games, he is shooting .462% for the season and .362% from three-point range. His 47 three-point attempts leads USF, his 20 free throws are the lowest total of all the major minutes players -- hence it appears he is typically playing some distance from the basket. He's rebounding at a 5.0 clip per game and his 43 defensive boards leads the team. Wallace's 14/14 assist-to-turnover ratio also indicates someone playing away from the hoop and not creating opportunities for teammates but also not making errors.

Caloiaro - He's a fundamentally sound frosh who is getting his proverbial feet wet as the fourth or fifth option in the offense. He's shooting .491% to date but also been awrded just five free throws this season. His 21/11 assist-to-turnover numbers indicate he knows what to do and what to look for offensively -- that it's a matter of getting stronger and gaining experience.

Bryant - Much more of a passer than a scorer, Bryant was brought in from the Arizona junior college ranks to steady the team. His shooting has been adequate so far but it's running the offense and playing 'D' where he does best. He leads the Dons with 12 steals.

Vaughn - 11.2 ppg. (second-leading scorer) as a freshman is quite a feat, especially considering he originally signed with Loyola Marymount but was released from his letter-of-intent after a coaching change -- did the new LMU coach make a wise decision? Vaughn is shooting .465% overall but just .259% from long range. That last number, plus the fact he has shot 52 free throws in 11 games (again, second on the squad) indicates ability to penetrate with the ball.

Also, backcourter Manny Quezada is a holdover from last season. Averaging 10 ppg, he's not shy with his shot (second on the team in three-point attempts) but is shooting just above 40% from the floor. But catch him during an on-night and he can lead USF to victory. Also to his credit, Quezada is leading the team with 40 assists. He certainly can create with the ball -- sometimes what a coach wants and also sometimes not. He has made seven starts to date.

The other double-digit minutes player is Chris O'Brien. A 6-4 freshman with eight starts under his belt, he has posted these confounding numbers: 36% shooting overall from the floor but .583% from long distance -- a third of his shots this season have been from three-point range.

Team numbers look like this:

*** USF is shooting .458% for the season to .432% for opponents.

*** The Dons collectively have 16 more free throw attempts than opposing teams.

*** On the boards, Waltes' squad is trailing -- 31.7 to 33.3.

*** With assists and turnovers, San Francisco is in a deficit per game -- 13.5 assists to 14.9 turnovers


Hyman Taylor 6-9/245 C JR
Kwame Vaughn 6-3/195 G FR
Blake Wallace 6-6/220 F JR
Peter Smith 5-11/155 G FR
Chris O'Brien 6-4/205 G FR
Manny Quezada 6-2/185 G SR
Dontae Bryant 6-2/175 G JR
Rashad Green 6-4/195 G SO
Clint Pekarsky 6-3/205 G FR
Christian Hernandez 6-5/210 G JR
James Morgan 6-9/240 C SR
Angelo Caloiaro 6-7/225 F FR
Dior Lowhorn 6-7/230 F JR
Paolo Zamorano 6-3/220 F JR

(Our note: We don't wish to be picky but here's your assignment Monday night. Size up Dior Lawhorn, who is officially listed as 6-7, 230. Next cast your eyes on freshman Angelo Caloiaro. On the official roster, Caloiaro's listed height/weight numbers are 6-7 and 225. Unless Angelo has packed on the muscle from when we last saw him at Archbishop Mitty, well, there's no way these two young men have a five pound weight difference).


This game is back at Walt McPherson Court.

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