Paul Trevor has always scheduled tough, so even as the San Francisco State men's basketball coach reflected upon his inexperienced roster ahead of the 2014-15 season, he decided to stay the course.
The Gators lost five starters from a season ago, most notably All-California Collegiate Athletic Association performers Nefi Perdomo and Calvin Otiono. They went 14-12 (12-10 CCAA) and cracked the conference postseason tournament for the third time in four seasons.
While these recent Gators teams have been talented, they excelled in large part because of cohesiveness.
“Those guys competed well and they cared about each other,” said Trevor, now in his fifth season. “Those are important traits if you want to be successful.”
So as he watched his current crop in a Nov. 1 exhibition against vaunted Maryland, a new member of the Big Ten Conference, Trevor looked for certain clues.
“I wanted to see how we responded to adversity,” Trevor said. “I thought they did a nice job of that. I was proud of the way they handled playing against a very good team in a hostile environment.”
Senior Bren Haley and junior Andre Jones, both guards, stood out in the 86-52 loss. Haley is coming back from shoulder surgery, but Trevor credits his work in the offseason for helping him get his timing back. Jones, who redshirted last season, provides a stable presence in the backcourt.
Trevor thinks that 6-foot-6 senior forward Udun Osakue (6.7 points, 4.5 rebounds per game last season), who started six games in 2013-14, could be crucial toward the team's fortunes.
“He needs to score for us, he needs to rebound and play tough,” Trevor said. “He doesn't talk a lot, but he sets the tone throughout the game. As we transition toward conference play, I expect Udun to start leaving his mark on our program.”
Next up for the Gators are exhibitions against Long Beach State, very likely an NCAA Tournament team this season, and Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, which cracked the NCAA Tournament field a season ago. Though they might take their lumps before conference play, Trevor feels confident that come January, this team could make a run.
“I think we'll have a great year,” said 6-3 freshman Chiefy Ugbaja, who starred for Riordan High School the past two seasons. “We all have the same mentality of what we want to do. We had some shaky points offensively in the game against Maryland, but in time that will get a lot better.”
Ugbaja committed to San Francisco State in large part because of the promise he saw in the program.
“It's a good program, and it's going to keep coming up,” Ugbaja said.