MEN’S HOOPS SEASON COMING FAST, FIRST OFFICIAL PRACTICE ON FRIDAY

MEN’S HOOPS SEASON COMING FAST, FIRST OFFICIAL PRACTICE ON FRIDAY

2014-15 Roster
2014-15 Schedule
2014-15 Quick Facts
Record Book

SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- The Sacramento State men's basketball team, guided by seventh-year head coach Brian Katz, begins its preseason practice schedule on Friday, Oct. 3, at 5:30 a.m.

After Friday, practice will continue five days a week leading up to the team's home exhibition games on Nov. 4 vs. Holy Names and Nov. 7 against Menlo. The Hornets' season opener is Friday, Nov. 14, at Gonzaga, and the home opener will take place on Nov. 19 against Simpson at 7:05 p.m.

Below are some notes on the team heading into the 2014-15 season.

QUICK HITS

• Sacramento State returns all five starters from a team that went 14-16 overall, 10-10 in the Big Sky and qualified for the conference tournament for the first time since 2006. The list of starters include senior guards Mikh McKinney and Dylan Garrity. McKinney was a unanimous first team all-Big Sky and second team all-district selection last year while Garrity received honorable mention all-league accolades for the third straight year. Other returning starters include junior swingman Cody Demps, senior forward Zach Mills and senior center Alex Tiffin. All five of those players started at least 24 games a year ago.

• McKinney and Garrity, who will serve as team co-captains for the second consecutive season, combine to form arguably the best back court in the Big Sky Conference. McKinney, who became the first player in school history to be named all-district during the program's Div. I era (1991-pres.), averaged 16.6 points, 3.8 rebounds, 4.6 assists and 1.2 steals per game while shooting .482 from the field. Garrity, who is just 58 assists shy of becoming the school's all-time leader in that category, averaged 13.2 points and 3.6 assists per game while shooting a program-record .472 (75-159) from the 3-point line.

• Overall, the team returns nine players from a squad that set Div. I-era (1991-pres.) school records for Big Sky victories (10), home wins (11) and home winning streak (seven games). In addition, the squad's 14 overall wins tied for the second best mark in the Div. I era.

• Joining the five returning starters as Hornets back for the 2014-15 season include junior guard Dreon Barlett, sophomore center Eric Stuteville, sophomore swingman Nick Hornsby and sophomore guard Trevis Jackson.

• The 14-man roster features four seniors, two juniors, three sophomores and five freshmen. The five freshmen are the most in head coach Brian Katz's tenure as head coach at Sacramento State. The team is guard-heavy again, as eight of the 14 players will see time in the back court this year.

• The five freshmen are comprised of guards Marcus Graves (Westview HS) and Jiday Ugbaja (Archbishop Riordan HS), forwards Justin Strings (Mira Costa HS) and Mason Stuteville (Casa Roble HS), and center James Herrick (Douglas HS). Mason Stuteville, who checks in at 6-foot-10, 230 pounds, is the younger brother of 6-foot-11, 250-pound Hornet sophomore center Eric Stuteville.

• Sacramento State lost five players from a season ago, but those five players accounted for just 13 percent of the team's offensive production in 2013-14. Perhaps the biggest loss was forward Jordan Salley who appeared in all 30 games last season while averaging 6.4 points and 3.6 rebounds on a school-record .622 shooting from the field.

• Amazingly, the Hornets have improved their conference record every year of head coach Brian Katz's tenure (1-15 in 2008-09; 3-13 in 2009-10; 4-12 in 2010-11; 5-11 in 2011-12; 8-12 in 2012-13; 10-10 last season).

• The Hornets went 11-3 at home last season, the most wins in the program's Div. I era, and most since the 1988-89 squad also posted 11 home victories. The team also had a seven-game home winning streak against Big Sky competition, easily the longest since joining the league in 1996-97. Sacramento State's 8-2 home record in Big Sky play was the team's best mark since joining the conference.

• Dylan Garrity's 75-foot shot at the overtime buzzer in last year's 78-75 home win against Weber State gave Sacramento State a tremendous amount of national attention as video of the shot went viral. The shot, which was dubbed "The Hail Garrity", was featured on numerous websites, including ESPN, CNN, Deadpsin, Sports Illustrated, USA Today, Fox News and Sporting News to name a few. In addition, it was the #1 play on SportsCenter's Top 10 Plays that evening.

• Last year, the Hornets were 13-0 when leading at the five-minute mark, and 1-16 when trailing with five minutes to play. The lone victory came in the overtime home win against Weber State.

• What had been a below average offensive unit for a good portion of the 2013-14 season, Sacramento State got much better in the second half of the season. The Hornets scored at least 71 points in nine of the last 13 games after doing so just six times through the first 17 games. In non-conference play, the Hornets were averaging just 63.4 points (10th best in the league) on .415 shooting from the field. However, during league play, the team averaged 71.2 points (6th best in the league) on .480 shooting (3rd best in the league).

• In conference play, Sacramento State averaged just 10.7 turnovers per contest, which was the second best mark in the conference. Also in Big Sky play, Sacramento State was the best team in the league at defending the 3-point line, holding the opposition to just .336 (115-342) from distance.

• The Hornets will play 18 conference games this season, which will feature the normal Thursday-Saturday matchups. The University of Idaho is joining the Big Sky, creating a 12-member league in which each school will play seven teams twice, and the other four teams on one occasion. Previously, there was an odd amount of teams in the conference which resulted in more difficult travel schedules and several Monday games.

• The men's basketball program posted its highest grade point average in school history during the 2014 spring semester, finishing with a cumulative mark of 3.092. Of the 14 players on the team's roster during the 2013-14 season, nine finished with a spring term grade point average above a 3.0. Moreover, Katz's players graduate at a high rate. Academically, of the 18 Hornets that have expired their eligibility under Katz, 16 have graduated.

• All regular-season home contests, and road games played at a Big Sky Conference venue can again be seen live and free via webcast at www.WatchBigSky.com. All home games will be broadcast in HD. There will be no live video stream for the exhibition games.

• Steve McElroy returns for his 18th season as the radio voice of the Hornets, and every regular season game can be heard locally on KTKZ 1380 AM The Answer. Broadcasts will also be streamed live and free on iHeart radio and on www.hornetsports.com.

• Sacramento State will feature the same coaching staff from a year ago, comprised of head coach Brian Katz, associate head coach Brandon Laird, assistant coaches Ajay Riding and Chris Walker, and director of basketball operations Nate Smith.

• The Hornets will break out brand new home (white) and road (green) uniforms this season.