What happened in Vegas?

By The Beacon | March 6, 2012 9:00pm

The men’s basketball team exchanges high fives and chest bumps prior to their final regular season home game agains Saint Mary’s. The Pilots will be losing two seniors but this season has allowed many of the young players to get plenty of time on the court (Kayla Wong | The Beacon)

By Bruce Garlinghouse, Staff Writer -- garlingh13@up.edu

Men's basketball bests Santa Clara, loses to the University of San Francisco during the round two of the WCC Championship

Head Coach Eric Reveno is no stranger to the social networking site Twitter and has embraced the opportunity to personally connect with the Pilot fan base.

After losing 66-87 to the University of San Francisco in the second round of the WCC Tournament last Thursday, he reached out to his team about what it needs to do in order to bounce back from a 7-24 season.

"My offseason advice to players is now is the time to ‘be selfish.' Now is the time to invest all you have into being the best you can be" Reveno tweeted on Tuesday. It was just one of a string of tweets Reveno posted about the team's much-needed improvements in the off-season.

It was the first season in four years the Pilots haven't had at least 20 wins.

"This season was definitely disappointing," Reveno said. "I anticipated this being a rebuilding year, but we were thinking more like finishing fourth or fifth in the conference."

After graduating four seniors last season, they were the 333rd oldest team in the nation. Only 12 teams were younger.

That may explain why the Pilots had the highest turnover average in the WCC with 15.5 per game.

However, Reveno cited multiple other reasons and said he does not like to use the team's youth as an excuse.

"Turnovers were a big problem and there were multiple issues from strength to technique and fundamentals as well as offensive execution," Reveno said.

With the graduation of seniors Eric Waterford and Nemanja Mitrovic, junior Derrick Rodgers will be the lone senior.

Sophomore Ryan Nicholas, who led the Pilots in scoring this year, said only having one senior will be different than the leadership dynamic from the past.

"We won't have that group of seniors like we had a couple of years ago where it was just obvious who was going to step up and lead," Nicholas said. "It will be interesting to see who steps up and takes that role."

Reveno had a more clear idea, pointing to sophomore Tim Douglas as an obvious choice.

Douglas was voted a team captain this year, despite being an underclassman.

While still young, next year's Pilots will be returning with much more experience.

Freshmen Dorian Cason, Kevin Bailey and David Carr all averaged at least 18 minutes per game and Carr saw increased responsibility at the point for the second part of the season.

"We have a tremendous amount of experience and it's time to reap the benefits of that experience next year," Reveno said.


Women's basketball stomps Santa Clara 90-64, falling to the University of San Diego during round two in Las Vegas

After being the first Pilot in three years to notch a 30-point game, sophomore Cassandra Brown learned she was only two points away from another scoring honor.

Her 32-point performance was only two points away from tying the WCC Tournament record for most points scored in a game.

"I was kind of mad," Brown said. "I would have liked to try and get it."

But it did help the Pilots take down Santa Clara 90-64 and earned them a chance to face the University of San Diego in the second round of the WCC Championship Tournament in Las Vegas, Nev.

But the Pilots' chance at revenge ended in much the same way their regular season finale game against the Toreros did.

"We were fighting back the whole game but we could just never push it back," Brown said.

The game was close until the Toreros jumped out to a 14-point lead with about 14 minutes left. The Pilots continued to fight back and after an 11-2 run, brought it within five.

But that was the closest the Pilots would get, losing 70-60 and ending the season with a 12-20 record.

Head Coach Jim Sollars said his young team faced a tough match-up against a more experienced USD team.

"One of the things I think happens when you have a lot of young kids playing is that teams that are really good defensively, we struggle with," Sollars said. "(San Diego), give them credit they are stronger, more aggressive and more mature."

Sollars again finds himself with a young team next year, one with no seniors.

But he said leadership is born out of game experience, something many of the team's younger players have plenty of.

"Its not so much chronological age as it is playing age," Sollars said "All of our freshmen and sophomores played a lot this year."

Sophomore Alexis Byrd played significant minutes last year and made the WCC All-Freshman team. This year she played an average of 28 minutes and averaged 7.6 points per game.

Freshman Kari Luttinen played 18.5 minutes per game while averaging six points per game.

Still, with no senior class, players will have to step into leadership roles usually held by seniors.

"It's going to be different because we haven't been placed in that role yet," Brown said. "Now we have to step up and be leaders and help the younger girls."

But Brown, who will be one of four juniors, said she's not concerned.

"We have people on our team who can step up and take that leadership role," Brown said.

From the left (Photo courtesy of facebook.com)