The much anticipated 2013/2014 season has gotten off to a disastrous start for the San Francisco Dons. After two games, the Dons looked like they were on track for a great season. Not only did they blow out Notre Dame de Namur but they came back from a 10 point second half margin to beat a solid Cleveland State squad. In their third game of the season, the Dons dropped a heart breaking 92-90 game to Nevada Wolfpack. Even though the Dons were torched for 92 points, their defense didn’t seem too suspect because they were trying to defend NBA caliber guard Deonte Burton. However, the Dons gave up 93 points in their next outing against lowly Idaho State which has put their season into peril.
“There is no defensive pride right now with our team and the fact that we had 16 turnovers against a zone tells you where our focus and our mindset was going into the game. We didn’t come to play,” said Rex Walters. “It’s really disappointing for me because I recruited these guys and you can say that they are my guys and they are. Every player that has played here has been my guy, some of them made it some of them haven’t. Have some pride, have some pride that you are going to step out on this court and play your heart out for your teammates, for yourself, and for your university. We didn’t do that tonight, I am beside myself right now. I haven’t gotten them to understand how important every opportunity is.”
Unfortunately, the Dons looked worse against Idaho State than they did against Nevada, as they let Chris Hansen and Tomas Sanchez light them up for a combined 57 points. It looked like the Dons were going to pull off a lucky win at the end of the game as Matt Glover was fouled with 5.2 seconds left in the game but he missed the first of a one-and-one which led to Idaho State getting fouled for game winning free throws.
“This is the most disappointing loss of my career without a doubt because for the third game in a row we talked about coming out with our best defensive effort. For us to come out and do that (Give up 93 points) shows that I am not delivering the message the right way or they don’t want to hear it. I don’t know which one it is but it’s my job as a coach to let them hear it and that’s what I am going to do,” said a somber Rex Walters after the Idaho State loss.
Part of the reason why the Dons have been struggling defensively is that their best defenders keep getting into foul trouble. At the end of the first half of the Nevada game, Walters was forced to use reserves because many of his starters had two fouls. On Monday night against Idaho State, point guard Cody Doolin had four fouls and Matt Glover and Avry Holmes had five fouls apiece.
Things don’t get any easier for the Dons as they head out on a quick stop to the Pacific Northwest to play the Montana Grizzlies and Oregon Ducks. Last year’s NCAA tournament attendee the Grizzlies are led by star player Kareem Jordan who is looking to put on a show for the home opener in Missoula. If the Dons are lucky enough to escape a victory, they will have an even tougher challenge when they head to Eugene. Top 20 ranked Oregon is led by guard Joseph Young who is averaging an astonishing 30 points per game in three games this season. Rex Walters better hope he has gotten his message clear to his squad because if they do not step up their defense quick they are likely to end up 2-4 by the end of the week.
“We are going to work on our defense. We are going to work on the fact that every team that played against us so far, well Division I team, has shot over fifty percent against us and Idaho State shot over 35 free throws. So not only are we giving them quality shots but were also fouling them. We need to guard the basketball and take pride in that,” explained Rex Walters on what the Dons need to work on for the upcoming road trip.