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West Coast Countdown: San Diego Goes From Hunter To Hunted

Nov. 12, 2008

First-year Head Coach Bill Grier enjoyed quite a debut season with San Diego, guiding the Toreros to the WCC Tournament title and the program's fourth NCAA postseason appearance.

Not satisfied to just be invited, the Toreros pulled off one of the most memorable wins of the 2008 NCAA Tournament, shocking No. 4 seeded Connecticut, 70-69, in overtime. The win over the Huskies marked San Diego's first NCAA Tournament win in program history.

The Toreros finished the season with a 22-14 overall record, and an 11-3 mark in conference play. San Diego's 22 wins and 11 victories in WCC play were second most in school history, and USD's three wins over top-20 ranked teams (Saint Mary's, Gonzaga and UConn) bettered the previous program mark of two.

What can Grier and the Toreros do for an encore? If the preseason prognosticators are right, the Toreros should compete for the WCC title and earn their second consecutive trip to the NCAA Tournament. San Diego returns all five starters and 10 letterwinners overall. Those 10 letterwinners accounted for 96.2 percent of the Toreros' scoring and rebounding from last season, the highest percentage of returning scoring and rebounding in the conference.

THE TOREROS' TOP RETURNING PLAYERS
NAME YEAR
POSITION
2007-08 KEY STATS
Brandon Johnson Senior
Guard
16.9 ppg, 3.5 rpg, 4.1 rpg
Gyno Pomare Senior
Forward
14.1 ppg, 7.4 rpg, 55.6 FG percent
Rob Jones Sophomore
Forward
9.0 ppg, 5.8 rpg, 50.0 FG percent

SAN DIEGO BACKCOURT

San Diego thrived last season with Trumaine Johnson running the point, posting a 12-3 record down the stretch.


The Toreros welcome back one of the top playmakers in the conference in senior guard Brandon Johnson. Johnson, the 2008 WCC Tournament MVP, was selected as a 2008-09 preseason all-conference member and is a strong candidate for WCC Player of the Year honors. The Houston, TX native set a new single-season program record for points with 590, and ranked third in the conference with 16.9 points per game. He enters the season ranked 9th on the Toreros' career scoring charts with 1,277 points and third on their career assists list with 398.

Joining Johnson in the backcourt is 6-2 sophomore Trumaine Johnson, who started the last 15 games of the season at the point guard position. With Trumaine Johnson running the point, it allowed Brandon Johnson to be more aggressive on the offensive end, resulting in a 12-3 record in the Toreros' final 15 games of the season. In the last 12 games of the season, he averaged 10.3 points per game to go along with 2.9 assists per contest.

Junior wing De'Jon Jackson provides a steady presence for the Toreros on both ends of the floor. Jackson, who is probably best known for his game-winning shot in the Toreros' win over Connecticut, was the only Torero player to start all 36 games last season. Jackson, who averaged 7.6 points and 3.4 rebounds per game last season, was outstanding in the Toreros run in the WCC Tournament, tossing in 16.3 ppg, to go along with 6.0 rpg and 2.0 apg, en route to all-tournament honors.

Adding depth to the Toreros' backcourt are returning players Danny Brown and Devin Ginty, as well as sophomore newcomer Matt Dorr. Brown and Ginty bring experience and long range shooting ability. Brown, a senior, knocked down 18 threes last season, while Ginty, a sophomore who scored 18 points in USD's win at Kentucky last season, connected on 16 treys. Dorr, a transfer from Spokane Community College, scored eight points, handed out three assists, and swiped three steals in the Toreros' exhibition win over CSU Los Angeles.

SAN DIEGO FRONTCOURT

Senior forward Gyno Pomare averaged 21 ppg on 77.3 percent shooting from the field in San Diego's two NCAA Tournament games last season.


Just like the backcourt, the Toreros boast one of the top players in the conference in the frontcourt in senior Gyno Pomare. The 6-8 forward enters his final season with 1,296 points (7th all-time at USD) and 680 rebounds (3rd among Div. I players). Pomare was outstanding in the Toreros' two NCAA Tournament games. He tossed in a game-high 22 points on 10-of-12 shooting from the field in USD's win over UConn, and followed that up with a 20-point, 9-rebound effort against Western Kentucky in the second round. For the tournament, Pomare averaged 21 ppg, 6.5 rpg, and 3.0 spg, while shooting a blistering 77.3 percent from the field (17-for-22).

Also returning is sophomore Rob Jones, a 2008 WCC all-freshman team member. Jones enjoyed a solid freshman season, ranking third on the team in scoring (9.0 ppg), and second in rebounding (5.8 rpg), while converting 50 percent from the field. Jones was instrumental for San Diego down the stretch, averaging 12.8 ppg and 8.2 rpg during the Toreros five-game run through the WCC and NCAA Tournaments.

Newcomer Roberto Mafra looks to make an impact in his first season with the Toreros. The 6-9 forward/center from Brazil is a junior transfer from Southeastern (IA) Community College. Mafra earned the start in the Toreros exhibition game versus CSU Los Angeles and responded with a game-high 21 points on 9-of-10 shooting from the floor.

Junior Chris Lewis, a 6-7 wing, and sophomores Clinton Houston (6-7) and Nathan Lozeau (6-10) give the Toreros versatility in the frontcourt. Lewis saw action in all 36 games, starting nine, while Houston and Lozeau each played in 26 games with one start.