Eugene Tanner/2012 ap file photoCole Dickerson

USF men’s basketball hoping experience pays off in WCC

The USF men’s basketball team comes into the new season with something it didn’t have last year: experience.

All five starters this season started at times last year, including a pair of preseason All-West Coast Conference players in guard Cody Doolin and forward Cole Dickerson. The two seniors will be counted on to lead the team on the floor, though coach Rex Walters has reminded his team not to rely on the team’s headliners.

“We say the open man is the best player,” Walters said. “We’re going to make sure we get Cole open, we’re going to make sure we get Cody open, but we’ve got some other guys as well that can really do some things.”

Dickerson will still be the focal point of the offense, Walters said, thanks to a versatile game that allows him to score in a variety of ways.

The offense shouldn’t be a problem for a team that shot better than 52 percent from the field last year. Doolin said rebounding and defense will be a key to getting the team back over .500 after going 15- 16 last year, including a 7-9 mark in the WCC.

Dickerson said the team’s mindset hasn’t changed all that much, however.

“I don’t know if it feels different, but the expectations haven’t changed,” he said. “I feel like we’re still trying to compete for a WCC championship. I feel like the only thing that might have changed is that this year we have more of a team capable of doing that.”

The conference remains tough as always, with BYU, Gonzaga and St. Mary’s standing in the way of the WCC title.

Doolin said being a senior hasn’t ramped up the pressure to claim that title, however.

“I think less pressure if anything than what I felt last year,” he said. “I have nothing to lose. Just go out there and try to play as well as we can.”

The season opens with four home games, starting with Notre Dame de Namur on Friday. The WCC schedule begins with a road trip to Portland and Gonzaga beginning Dec. 28.

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