March 22, 2008
NCAA TOURNAMENT SECOND ROUND: The University of San Diego men's basketball team (22-13) has advanced in NCAA Division I Postseason play for the first time in school history. USD knocked off 15th-ranked and No. 4 seed Connecticut in first round action, 70-69 in overtime. The Toreros will now take on No. 12 seed Western Kentucky (28-6) on Sunday in the 2nd game (2:40 p.m. ET). The WKU Hilltoppers took down the No. 5 seed Drake Bulldogs, also in overtime, 101-99. Sunday's first game (12:10 p.m.) will pit No. 12 Villanova (21-12) against No. 13 Siena (23-10). This marks the first time in NCAA Tournament history that all four lower seeds have advanced from the same site into 2nd round play. The winner of the USD-WKU contest will advance to the Sweet Sixteen and West Regional in Phoenix, Arizona.
SERIES RECORD: This is just the third meeting ever between San Diego and Western Kentucky. The all-time series is even at 1-1. USD lost the first meeting at Western Kentucky, 64-59 (1-5-89). The Toreros returned the favor the next season in San Diego, 72-66 (12-28-89).
TV/RADIO/INTERNET: The game will be televised nationally by CBS Sports with Tim Brando and Mike Gminski calling the action. The game will also be broadcast on XX Sports Radio (1090 AM & 105.7 FM) with Andy Masur and John Kentera bringing you all the play-by-play and color analysis (pre-game 15 minutes prior to tipoff).
WCC RECORDS (as of Mar. 22nd): Gonzaga (13-1 wcc; 25-8), Saint Mary's (12-2; 25-7), San Diego (11-3; 22-13), Santa Clara (6-8; 15-15), San Francisco (5-9; 10-21), Pepperdine (4-10; 11-21), Portland (3-11; 9-22), LMU (2-12; 5-26).
COACH GRIER (1ST YEAR): Coach Bill Grier (Oregon, 1990) is in his first season at the helm of the USD program, and his first at the NCAA Division I level. He brings a record of 22-13 into Sunday's NCAA Tournament second round matchup. His 11 WCC wins are the second most for league victories in a single season in program history. Hired on March 26, 2007, Grier is USD's 11th head coach overall and just the 4th head coach since the Torero program moved to the NCAA Division I ranks in 1979-80. His 22 wins is also the most by a Torero coach in his first season at USD - previous mark was 16 held by Hank Egan ('84-85) and Jim Brovelli ('73-74). He owns three wins over ranked opponents (#15 UConn, #20 Saint Mary's & #20 Gonzaga), as well as an impressive 81-72 road win over Kentucky. The 44-year-old Grier spent the past 16 years at Gonzaga, including the last 8 seasons as Mark Few's top assistant. Over the past eight years Gonzaga compiled a 211-52 record; won the WCC regular-season title seven times; the WCC Tournament title seven times; advanced to the NCAA Tournament eight times, including three trips to the NCAA Sweet Sixteen. Overall with Grier as an assistant coach, the Bulldogs combined for an overall record of 381-126; won 11 regular-season WCC titles; won nine WCC Tournament titles (33-7 WCC Tournament record); advanced to nine consecutive NCAA Tournaments, and ten overall, including four Sweet 16 appearances and the 1999 Elite Eight. Bill and his wife, Nicole, have one daughter, Giselle.
SAN DIEGO LONE WCC PROGRAM TO ADVANCE: For the first time in league history the West Coast Conference sent three teams to the Big Dance. Joining #13 seed San Diego, the league's automatic qualifier, was Gonzaga, a #7 seed, and Saint Mary's College, a #10 seed. The Zags were knocked off by #10 Davidson, 82-76, while the Saint Mary's Gaels were taken down by #7 Miami, 78-64. San Diego advances to the NCAA 2nd round for the first time after dropping their first three tourney attempts - 77-69 to Stanford (2003), 62-61 to Auburn (1987) and 65-56 to Princeton (1984).
JACKSON CONVERTS GAME WINNER IN OVERTIME: Sophomore guard De'Jon Jackson, who was just 1-of-8 from the field in the game's first 44 minutes and 58 seconds, converted a basket from the right wing just inside the three-point line with 1.2 seconds left to give the Toreros a 70-69 overtime win over No. 4 seed and 15th ranked Connecticut... The loss was UConn's first NCAA Tournament 1st round loss in 15 tries... Gyno Pomare came up big as he totaled a game-high 22 points (10-12 shooting) to go with 4 rebounds and 3 steals... Brandon Johnson chipped in with 18 points, 5 rebounds, 4 assists and 3 steals... Both Pomare and Johnson were on the team bench, having fouled out, when Johnson made the game-winning shot... The freshmen quartet of Rob Jones (14 points, 6 rebounds), Trumaine Johnson (8 points, 5 assists), Devin Ginty (2 key free throws late) and Clinton Houston (25 minutes) also played key roles in USD's biggest win ever... UConn's Jeff Adrian led four Huskies in doube digit scoring with 18 points and 12 rebounds.
TORERO TIDBITS: USD is in the NCAA Tourney for just the fourth time, and now owns its first postseason win... The Toreros also improved to 16-0 when leading at halftime (34-29 vs. UConn)... San Diego (22-13) has reached 20 or more wins for just the 3rd time since moving to Division I back in 1979-80 (24-6 in '86-87; 20-9 in '99-00), and the team's 22 wins ranks 2nd all-time... The Toreros head into Sunday's second round game having won 6 straight and 14 of 16... In their current 6-game win streak, all five Torero starters are averaging in double-digit scoring: Brandon Johnson (19.7 ppg, 6.2 rpg, 3.8 apg, 2.0 steals), Gyno Pomare (15.0 ppg/7.5 rpg), De'Jon Jackson (12.5 ppg/5.0 rpg), Rob Jones (10.8 ppg/7.7 rpg) and Trumaine Johnson (10.5 ppg/5.0 apg)... During this 6-0 streak USD owns a scoring margin of +9.5 points (75.0 to 65.5) over its opponents.... USD's 11 WCC wins this season is the second best league total in USD history (13-1 in 1987 under head coach Hank Egan is the top record)... Junior Gyno Pomare became just the third USD Division I player to record 1,200 points and grab 600 rebounds - he currenty sits at 1,276 and 671 rebounds... Scott Thompson (1,379 & 740; 1983-87) and Ryan Williams (1,318 & 653; 1994-99) are the other two 1200-600 club members... With his 28 point performance in the team's double overtime win against Saint Mary's on March 9th, junior Brandon Johnson set at new USD game record for minutes played (50) and a new single season record for points scored (550)...With 1,264 career points, he is now 9th all-time at USD, just 12 points behind #8 Pomare... This season USD has now notched three wins over top-25 ranked teams - No. 15 UConn on March 21st (70-69, ot), No. 20 Gonzaga on March 10th (69-62) and No. 20 Saint Mary's back on Jan. 28th (63-55)... The 3 wins over ranked opponents betters the USD program mark of 2 wins in its previous 28 seasons of Division I (vs. No. 14 UCLA, 86-81, ot, 11-26-02; and vs. No. 25 Gonzaga in the USD Sports Center, 75-59, 2-4-99).
GRIER AGREES TO CONTRACT EXTENSION: Prior to USD's NCAA Tournament opener, first year head coach Bill Grier agreed to terms (March 18th) on a new contract extension to his original multi-year deal he accepted in March of 2007. "We are excited with the job Bill Grier and his whole staff have done this year," said Ky Snyder, USD Executive Director of Athletics. "We are happy to reach an agreement on an extension."
TOREROS BATTLE TESTED: One of the first things Coach Bill Grier did upon his arrival at USD was to upgrade the schedule. This past season USD faced five teams in their non-conference schedule that reached the 2008 NCAA Tournament (UNLV, USC, South Alabama, Boise State and Kentucky). Along with their three games each against Saint Mary's College and Gonzaga, USD played a total of 11 games against teams in this year's NCAA's. USD went a combined 4-7 in those contests with wins coming against Kentucky, Gonzaga, and Saint Mary's twice. Three other USD opponents reached the NIT - SDSU, New Mexico and Stephen F. Austin.
TOREROS ON THE ROAD: The Toreros are 9-8 in games played away from the Jenny Craig Pavilion... USD is 7-6 in "true" away games and 2-2 in neutral site contests... The Toreros have gone 6-1 in their last seven away contests... Their lone loss during this stretch was a 61-54 setback at Saint Mary's College on Feb. 25th... Back on Dec. 29th, 2007, USD claimed a huge road victory, an 81-72 decision over the Kentucky Wildcats at Rupp Arena before 23,756 fans... Junior guard Brandon Johnson leads the Toreros in road scoring at 17.5 ppg... He is followed by Gyno Pomare at 12.7 ppg and 6.5 rpg... As a team, USD averages 64.1 ppg, but is giving up 66.2 ppg.
JOHNSON & POMARE BOTH IN TORERO 1,200 POINT CLUB: During the past 52 seasons (1955-2007) of USD men's basketball, there had been just 20 Toreros to reach the 1,000 point mark... Prior to this season, the most recent addition to this list was guard Ross DeRogatis last season who now sits at #19 with 1,090 points... This season two more Toreros have joined the club, and now both have jumped into the 1,200 club... With his 5th point in his 13 point outing at Kentucky back on Dec. 29th, Gyno Pomare became the 21st Torero to reach the 1,000 point milestone... Now with 1,276 points and 671 rebounds, Gyno's is just the 3rd NCAA Division I Torero to score 1,200+ points and grab 600+ rebounds... He holds down the 2nd spot all-time among USD's Division I rebounding leaders (1979-present) - the No. 1 spot is held by Scott Thompson (740; 1983-87)... Among all Toreros, he is now 8th on the scoring charts. Brandon Johnson became the 22nd Torero to join the 1,000 point club with his first of four three-pointers against the Portland Pilots back on Jan. 21st... He entered the game with 999 points, and finished with 12 points against the Pilots, including the game-winner at the buzzer... He now has 1,264 points (9th all-time) and also ranks 3rd all-time (USD Div. I records) in assists with 394... The last time USD had two players on the team with 1,000+ points was during the 1991-92 campaign - seniors Kelvin Woods (1,216) and Wayman Strickland (1,040). The WCC coaches picked both of these players as two of the top six WCC players returning this season - they are joined by Josh Heytvelt and Jeremy Pargo of Gonzaga, Diamon Simpson of Saint Mary's College and Manny Quezada of USF.