WAR MEMORIAL GYM — The University of San Francisco’s final home tuneup before WCC play could not have begun in more ominous fashion.
In the team’s 52-41 win over Radford on Tuesday night, the Dons needed nearly seven minutes to sink their first basket. By that point, the Radford bench had been going wild, stomping along the sideline and shouting as the Big South guest’s lead ballooned to 10-0.
The truth is that the Dons should have been staring at a much larger deficit than that, and they would have been had this been conference action.
The Dons still have a pair of games in the Continental Tires Las Vegas Classic on Friday and Saturday before opening the WCC slate at the University of San Diego on Dec. 28. The weekend set is much needed because stumbling through a seven-minute scoreless stretch is an issue that needs resolving.
“That’s stating the obvious,” head coach Kyle Smith said. “I like to accentuate the positives, to be honest. Like, I’ve never held a team to 25 percent [from the field] and 11 percent from 3. So, that might be our team.
“Maybe that’s who we are. Maybe we are just ugly ball.”
The Dons are young. The offense often bogs down. Against Radford, two freshmen and a sophomore started. High-upside youngsters, like freshman guard Souley Boum, starred off the bench.
The Oakland Tech product provided the perfect embodiment of the Dons’ night.
After not attempting a field goal in the first half, Boum flashed his athleticism and assertiveness in the second, connecting on a pair of triples, tying for the team-high with 10 points as the Dons sprinted out a comfortable win.
“It’s what he does,” Smith said. “He scores points. He takes a lot of pressure [off the rest of the team].”
With guard Charles Minlend, the club’s only preseason all-WCC selection, officially out for the season due to a labrum injury, the opening is there for Boum.
“He’s one of those players — like Charles that you have to adjust to a little bit,” Smith added. “He is going to be creative and he is going to find ways to score.”
With two non-conference games remaining, Smith will be imparting a simple message to his ugly Dons.
“I just think we’ve got to put the ball in the basket.”