Basketball team readies for high-profile start to season

The Gator men's basketball team is looking to showcase its characteristic intensity and hustle in a high-profile start to the season later this month.

This year's Gator squad will debut in exhibition games at the University of San Francisco on Oct. 27 and at University of California, Berkeley on Nov. 6. Both games offer a rare chance for the Gators to go up against highly ranked NCAA Division I programs, and the team has been practicing hard to be ready for the chance to be in the spotlight.

A photo of senior guard Nefi Perdomo driving to the basket

Senior guard Nefi Perdomo drives to the basket. (Credit: Tyler Deniston)

"Defense is our foundation," said assistant coach Alex Pribble at a recent practice. "That's what we'll need and that's what we've been working on in these first few weeks of practice."

For the 2012-2013 season, the Gators are a fairly even mix of veterans and fresh faces -- of 17 members, eight players are transfers and one is a freshman. But this early in the pre-season, the team is focusing on chemistry by getting to know one another and spending time together on and off the court.

"We've gelled together really well," said senior guard Nefi Perdomo. "The transfers and freshmen have become part of the team. We're a team on and off the court."

"We've got a good core group of guys," said head coach Paul Trevor. "We've got some new guys, like Calvin Otiono, who have shown incredible leadership. I think we're going to be competitive this year."

Last year, the Gators finished 10th out of 12 teams in the CCAA conference. The conference, led last year by Chico State, is one of the most competitive in the nation. But the 2011-12 season was also highlighted by the performance of players like Perdomo, who averaged 15 points per game and was named to the Second Team All-CCAA squad.

A photo of the Gator men's basketball team huddling

The Gator men's basketball team huddles before a play. (Credit: Tyler Deniston)

More recent transfers, including senior forward Brandon Tatum and junior guard William Overton Jr., have also received honors and awards for their play. A number of the transfers are "stand out" players that may emerge as leaders, said Trevor, including senior guard/forward Decensae White and Calvin Otiono, a junior guard.

Part of the potential of the team that has been assembled this year comes from the diligent recruiting efforts of Trevor, who is entering his third season at SF State. With few scholarships to hand out among the team, Trevor can't attract a lot of big-name prospects and is tasked with developing his players from the ground up.

"The coaching staff really helps us with more than just basketball," said Perdomo.

"Coach Trevor is intense," said Pribble. "He brings that competitive fire. These guys are really going to be ready for those exhibition games."

Although the upcoming games against the USF Dons and the Cal Golden Bears don't count toward the team's regular season record, they provide a chance for the Gators to face off against two competitive NCAA Division I teams and show them what they've got. That's a chance the Gators and their fans are excited to have.

"There's no rivalry," said Trevor. "They will be friendly games. We're just going to go out there and be as competitive as we can."

Tickets to the Oct. 27 game against USF are free for students, alumni and staff and the University will provide buses from the SF State campus to the USF gym. To RSVP and to learn more about the event, students can click here and alumni and staff can click here.

Click to view the 2012 men's basketball schedule.

-- Philip Riley