SFA Travels To Take On Toreros
Dec. 13, 2007
NACOGDOCHES, Texas -- -
SFA at San Diego Toreros Saturday, Dec. 15, 2007 1:00 p.m. (Pacific) Jenny Craig Pavilion (5,100) San Diego, Calif. Radio: KTBQ (107.7 FM) Television: None Web: Yahoo! Sports
'Jacks Take Streak West: The Stephen F. Austin Lumberjack basketball team will try to extend its five-game winning streak Saturday when it travels to San Diego, Calif., to take on the University of San Diego. The game is set for a 1 p.m. Pacific Standard Time -- 3 p.m. Central -- start from the Jenny Craig Pavilion. SFA is out to its best start in 26 years at 7-1, and the Lumberjacks' current five-game streak includes three straight road victories. San Diego is 5-7 on the season and comes into the game trying to avoid suffering its third consecutive loss.
Last Game: SFA notched one of the biggest wins in program history with a 66-62 verdict at Oklahoma last Saturday. After a back-and-forth first half that saw 11 lead changes, the Lumberjacks took the lead for good with three minutes left in the first half and never lost it. Junior forward Josh Alexander scored 19 points to lead four SFA players in double figures. Junior center Matt Kingsley scored 16, sophomore point guard Eric Bell added 12, and senior guard Gerald Fonzie chipped in with 10 points on the strength of a 3-for-3 effort from 3-point range, including two huge shots to keep SFA in control down the stretch. Bell finished within striking distance of a triple-double with seven rebounds and nine assists. The Lumberjacks held what had been a solid 3-point-shooting team to just 14.3 percent from behind the arc. The Sooners didn't hit a single 3-point field goal until the 6:31 mark of the second half. The win was SFA's first against a Big 12 school since the 'Jacks defeated Baylor in 2003-04, and the game marked just the second non-conference home loss for Oklahoma in its last 60 games.
vs. San Diego: SFA leads the all-time series with the Toreros, 2-1. The Lumberjacks dropped a 71-45 decision in the initial meeting, which took place in San Diego in 1989. SFA has won each of the last two games, first defeating the Toreros, 70-47, in Nacogdoches in 1991, then knocking off San Diego, 71-62, at home last season.
The Toreros: San Diego is 5-7 on the season, including a 3-2 record at home. The Toreros have dropped two straight games on the road, losing at New Mexico and Nevada, but San Diego won back-to-back home games before that, knocking off Hawaii and San Jose State. After bringing back four starters from last year's 18-14 squad, the Toreros were picked to finish third in the West Coast Conference preseason coaches' poll.
The Coaches: SFA is led by head coach Danny Kaspar. Kaspar is in his eighth season at the helm for the Lumberjacks. He holds a record of 115-91 (.558) at SFA and has a 334-143 (.700) overall record in 16-plus seasons as a collegiate head coach. San Diego's Bill Grier is in his first season as a collegiate head coach.
Up Next: The Lumberjacks will enjoy another lengthy break between games before taking on Huston-Tillotson in a home game on Friday, Nov. 21. That game is set for a 7 p.m. start. After a short break for Christmas, SFA will return to action on Dec. 29-30 for two games in the SMU Holiday Classic.
News and Notes
FAST START: SFA's 7-1 record this season is the best start to a season since the program joined the NCAA Division I ranks and is the best eight-game mark for the program since the 1981-82 season, when the Lumberjacks opened the season with seven straight wins before falling in their eighth game of the year. SFA went on to record a 14-1 start that season before finally posting its second loss in the 16th game of the year.
RETURN TO THE RANKINGS: SFA was included in Monday's CollegeInsider.com Mid-Major Top 25, cracking the poll at No. 25. This marks the first time for the Lumberjacks to join the ranks of the ranked since the Feb. 9, 2004 poll. SFA joins Southland Conference foes Sam Houston State (No. 9) and Texas-Arlington (No. 14) in the Top 25, marking the first time in the nine-year history of the mid-major poll for three SLC teams to be ranked at the same time.
ON A ROLL ON THE ROAD: SFA's current five-game winning streak includes three straight victories in non-conference road games. This marks the first time in program history for the Lumberjacks to win three straight road games against Division I, non-conference opponents. It's the first time since the 1984-85 season for SFA to win three straight out-of-conference road games against any level of competition.
DOUBLE-UP: SFA posted just three double-doubles all of last season -- Josh Alexander had two, and Matt Kingsley recorded one. The Lumberjacks have already surpassed that mark this year with four double-doubles -- each from a different player. Kingsley posted the first with 22 points and 13 rebounds against Jackson State on Nov. 13. Nick Shaw then scored 17 points and pulled down 16 rebounds against Louisiana-Monroe on Nov. 21, and Eric Bell had 18 points with 11 assists at Northern Illinois three days later. Alexander finished with 16 points and 10 rebounds at Jackson State on Dec. 1.
KING OF THE (scoring) COLUMN: Junior center Matt Kingsley has led the Lumberjacks in scoring in five of the first eight games this season, including three performances with 20-plus points. His 26-point showing at Jackson State was a season high. Kingsley leads the Southland Conference scoring race with 18.6 points per game. Kingsley has reached double digits in scoring in all eight games this season, breaking his previous career-best streak of five straight double-figure games, set late last season.
DIAL "1" FOR ASSISTANCE: Sophomore point guard Eric Bell (jersey number 1) leads the Southland Conference in assists and ranked 13th in the nation entering this week. Bell has averaged 6.88 assists per game. He posted a career-high 11 assists at Northern Illinois. That marked the first double-digit assist effort for a Lumberjack since Marcus Clark dished out 10 in a game during the 2005-06 season.
PERFECT IN THE WRJ: The Lumberjacks are out to a 4-0 start in home games at the William R. Johnson Coliseum. SFA opened the 2006-07 season with wins in its first three home contests before dropping the fourth. The last time a Lumberjack team won more than three in a row at home to start a season was in 2003-04, when SFA went 16-0 at home as part of a 31-game home winning streak that dated to the previous season and was the longest active streak in the nation by the time it was finally broken.
FOUR OF A KIND: The Lumberjacks have had four players hit double digits in scoring in a single game four times in the last seven contests -- against Jackson State, Louisiana-Monroe, Southern and at Oklahoma. The quadruple-double against Jackson State marked the first time four SFA players hit double digits in a single game since Jan. 11 of last season, when SFA took a 73-72 overtime victory at Lamar. In the middle of the current run, three 'Jacks hit double digits against Northern Illinois.
BOARDOM: SFA has outrebounded its opponent in six of eight games this season by an average margin of 7.0 boards per contest. The Lumberjacks pulled down 41 rebounds in the win over Louisiana-Monroe, two games after the Lumberjacks' 43-board effort against Jackson State. That is the best team rebounding total the Lumberjacks have put up since they recorded 45 boards against Sam Houston State on Jan. 18 last season. The Lumberjacks pulled down 40-plus rebounds only four times in all last season and surpassed 43 boards only twice.
NON-CONFERENCE REMATCHES: SFA's win against Jackson State earlier this year marked the second meeting between the two teams this season and the first time since the 2003-04 season for the 'Jacks to sweep a non-conference doubleheader. SFA had not played a non-conference home-and-home series since the 2004-05 season, when the Lumberjacks split with Alabama A&M as each team won at home. The year before, SFA played home-and-home series against both Alcorn State and Centenary. The 'Jacks swept Alcorn State and split with Centenary.
SAFE AT HOME: In seven-plus seasons under head coach Danny Kaspar, the Lumberjacks have compiled a 79-25 (.760) record in the William R. Johnson Coliseum, including a 4-0 home mark this season. SFA is 275-116 (.703) all-time in the Coliseum. The 'Jacks went 10-5 (.667) at home in 2006-07. SFA defeated UT-Tyler, 63-47, in the 2007-08 season opener. Kaspar's teams are a perfect 8-0 in home openers at SFA.
EARLY SIGNINGS: SFA signed three recruits during the fall's early signing period. The Lumberjacks added shooting guard Walt Harris, small forward Zach Williams and power forward Lu Griffin. Harris and Griffin are top-flight junior college players -- Harris from McLennan J.C. and Griffin from South Plains J.C. -- while Williams, a Dallas Skyline product, is a Top 15 prep recruit for his class in the state of Texas. The trio has been ranked tops in the Southland Conference among early signing classes by The Hoop Scoop, with a league-best average player rating of 3.0. Rivals.com rates Harris and Williams as the best shooting guard and small forward, respectively, signed in the Southland Conference this fall.
Scouting San Diego
ABOUT THE TOREROS: San Diego enters the game with a 5-7 record. The Toreros opened the season with back-to-back wins, defeating Hawaii on the road, 73-72, then knocking off Cal State-Monterey Bay, 87-76. San Diego then dropped four straight contests before rebounding with a 60-57 win over UC-Irvine. The Toreros have dropped each of their last two games, losing to New Mexico, 57-47, last Saturday, then falling to Nevada, 76-62, with both losses coming on the road. The two road defeats followed back-to-back home wins over Hawaii and San Jose State.
LAST GAME: Nevada used a 5-for-10 effort from 3-point range to take a 42-26 lead at halftime, and the Wolf Pack went on to collect a 76-62 victory over San Diego Wednesday night. Nevada shot 49 percent for the game, while holding the Toreros to 32 percent from the field. San Diego dug a hole for itself early by hitting just 27 percent from the floor and going 0-for-5 in the first half. The Toreros warmed up after halftime, shooting 39 percent in the second half, but couldn't keep pace, despite a 22-for-26 effort from the free throw line. Forward Gyno Pomare knocked down 8-of-9 at the stripe and finished with a game-high 22 points, just missing a double-double with nine rebounds. Point guard Brandon Johnson added 18 points.
KEY NUMBERS: Despite its losing record, San Diego's scoring margin is a tight minus-2.4 points per game. That's because the Toreros have played competitively with some of the toughest teams on their schedule. San Diego fell to UNLV by 11, lost to USC on the road by 10, and dropped a 10-point decision at New Mexico. In their five wins this season, the Toreros have shot .496 from the field, 51 percentage points better than their season average. San Diego is outrebounding its opposition by an average of 2.7 boards per contest.
LEADERS: The Toreros have two players ranked among the top 10 scorers in the West Coast Conference. Junior point guard Brandon Johnson ranks third in the league with his 6.9 points per game average. Classmate Gyno Pomare, a forward, is second on the team and eighth in the conference with 13.9 points per game. Pomare's 7.3 rebounds per game lead the Toreros by a wide margin. Johnson averages 3.3 assists per game. Pomare has gotten to the free throw line a team-best 61 times and shoots a solid .705 average from the stripe.
For the complete release, click on the "San Diego Game Notes" link in the side bar of the Men's Basketball home page.
-- SFA --