MEN'S BASKETBALL OPENS SEASON FRIDAY NIGHT AT #13 GONZAGA

MEN'S BASKETBALL OPENS SEASON FRIDAY NIGHT AT #13 GONZAGA

Sacramento State Game Notes (30 pages) - pdf
Big Sky Conference standings

GAME PREVIEW

• Sacramento State opens the 2014-15 season on Friday when the team travels to Spokane, Wash., to take on 13th-ranked Gonzaga. Tip-off is 6:05 p.m.
• The meeting will be the fifth between the two teams, and first since a 66-44 Gonzaga win in Spokane on Jan. 7, 1996.
• The Hornets are 2-2 all-time against the Bulldogs, and 1-1 when playing on Gonzaga's home floor. One of the losses in the series was a 77-72 overtime setback in Sacramento on Jan. 8, 1995. The Hornets' lone win in Spokane came in a 73-58 victory during the 1972-73 season.
• The other outcome in the series was a 76-74 home win during the 1971-72 season.
• The Hornets were a Div. II program during the first two meetings, and a Div. I program during the last two meetings (box scores from last two meetings on pgs. 9-10).
• Sacramento State is 7-16 in season openers since joining the Div. I ranks in 1991-92.
• Since joining the Div. I ranks, the Hornets are 0-13 against ranked opposition, including an 86-50 loss at 22nd-ranked UCLA last year.
• Sacramento State went 14-16 overall and 10-10 in the Big Sky Conference last year, and qualified for the conference tournament for the first time since 2006.
• The Hornets return all five starters from a year ago, and nine players overall. The list is headlined by senior guards and team co-captains Dylan Garrity and Mikh McKinney, who combine to arguably make up the best back court in the Big Sky Conference.
• Each of the Hornets' five newcomers are freshmen.

TV/RADIO/VIDEO STREAM/LIVE STATS

• Friday night's game will be televised live by Roots Sports Northwest, which is part of paid packages on some cable providers in the Sacramento area. Check your local listings to see if you have the channel. DirecTV ch. 687; Dish Network ch. 412.
• Every game this year will be broadcast live on KTKZ 1380 AM The Answer with 18th-year play-by-play man Steve McElroy calling all the action.
• Fans outside the Sacramento area can listen to all games via www.hornetsports.com.
• Once again, free HD video streams will be provided for all home games this season via www.WatchBigSky.com. In addition, all road games played at a Big Sky Conference venue will be streamed free as well.
• Live stats will be provided for every game this season.
• Links for all multimedia options can be found next to each game on the men's basketball schedule at www.hornetsports.com.

EXHIBITION GAMES RECAP

• Sacramento State played a pair of home exhibition games last week, defeating Holy Names on Nov. 4 by a 68-45 score, and Menlo College on Nov. 7 by a 77-68 score.
• Head coach Brian Katz used all 14 players on the roster in both games, including all 14 getting at least five minutes of action against Menlo (box scores on pgs. 11-12).
• The Hornets used an early 17-2 run in the win over Holy Names, and led by double digits a good portion of the game.
• The Hornets opened the Menlo game on a 15-2 run and led by at least 15 points for over 28 minutes of game clock before the Oaks went on a 17-2 run during the game's final 5:01 to make what had been a laugher into a single-digit outcome.
• Sacramento State's big men tandem of sophomore Eric Stuteville (13.5 ppg, 7.5 rpg) and senior Alex Tiffin (12.5 ppg, 4.5 rpg) were the team's top two scorers during exhibition play. The two combined to shoot .686 (24-for-35) from the field in the two games.
• The Hornets shot .538 during the two games and outrebounded their opponent by an average of 18.5 boards per game.
• Coach Katz used the same starting five in both games, consisting of Mikh McKinney and Dylan Garrity at guard, Cody Demps and Nick Hornsby at forward, and Stuteville at center. Both Stuteville and Hornsby are true sophomores.
• The Hornets averaged 72.5 points during the two games while the opposition averaged just 56.5 points.
• Demps averaged 8.0 ppg and 6.0 rpg, Hornsby averaged 7.0 ppg and 6.5 rpg, Garrity 6.5 ppg, 4.0 apg, and McKinney 5.5 ppg, 3.0 rpg and 4.5 apg.
• The Hornets have not lost an exhibition game (8-0) during the Katz era (2008-pres.).

SEASON OPENERS
    
• Entering its 67th season in program history, the men's basketball program has not fared well in season openers since the first year of play in 1948-49.
• The Hornets are 21-45 all-time in season openers, including a 7-16 record since joining the Div. I ranks in 1991-92.
• However, the Hornets have won three straight season openers, including a 73-43 home win over UC Santa Cruz last year.

AGAINST RANKED OPPOSITION

• Since joining the Div. I ranks in 1991-92, the Hornets are 0-13 vs. ranked opposition.
• The Hornets lost at 22nd-ranked UCLA last season by an 86-50 score.
• At No. 13, Gonzaga will be the highest ranked opponent Sacramento State has faced since an 82-51 road loss at 10th-ranked Marquette on Dec. 15, 2007.

IMPROVEMENT EVERY YEAR UNDER COACH KATZ

• Amazingly, Sacramento State has improved its conference record every year since head coach Brian Katz took over the program prior the 2008-09 season.
• After going 1-15 during Katz's first season in 2008-09, the Hornets went 3-13 in 2009-10, 4-12 in 2010-11, 5-11 in 2011-12, 8-12 in 2012-13, and 10-10 last year.
• The Hornets, who joined the Big Sky Conference in 1996-97, won their most Big Sky games (10) since joining the league, posted a school-record seven-game home winning streak against the Big Sky, and went a school-best 8-2 at home in Big Sky play.

GETTING IT DONE IN THE CLASSROOM

• 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 Sacramento State's roster last season, nine finished with a spring term GPA above a 3.0.
• The 3.092 gpa was the best mark among all nine men's sports at Sacramento State.
• For the entire 2013-14 academic year, the team finished with a 3.043 gpa after posting a 2.986 in the fall of 2013.
• Moreover, Coach Katz's players graduate at a high rate. Of the 18 players that have expired their eligibility under Katz, 16 have graduated.

ALL FIVE STARTERS BACK, NINE RETURNERS OVERALL

• Sacramento State returns all five starters from a year ago, and nine players overall.
• The list of returners includes eight of the team's nine leading scorers.
• Of the five players lost from a year ago, only one (Jordan Salley) averaged better than 1.6 points per game. Salley, who was the team's sixth man, averaged 6.4 points and 3.6 rebounds per game while shooting .622 from the field.
• The five starters include guards Dylan Garrity and Mikh McKinney, forwards Cody Demps and Zach Mills, and center Alex Tiffin. All five started at least 24 games.
• Perhaps even more impressive is two of those starters from a year ago (Mills and Tiffin) will likely come off the bench this season. Sophomores Nick Hornsby (forward) and Eric Stuteville (center) started both exhibition games and received starter-type minutes during the last month of the 2013-14 season.
• Four of the returning starters are seniors (Garrity, McKinney, Mills and Tiffin)
• Other returners include junior G Dreon Barlett and sophomore G Trevis Jackson.
• Five of the nine returners have been in the program for over two years.

FIVE-MINUTE MARK TELLS THE TALE

• Last season, the Hornets went 13-0 when leading with five minutes remaining in the second half, and 1-16 when trailing at that point in the game.
• The lone win came at home vs. Weber State in overtime on Dylan Garrity's 75-foot shot at the buzzer to deliver a 78-75 victory.

HORNETS PICKED HIGH IN PRESEASON RANKINGS

• Of the seven preseason polls released for the Big Sky, the Hornets were picked among the top four teams in all seven polls. That includes a first place prediction from Blue Ribbon, a second place prediction by ESPN and third place by The Sporting News.
• The Hornets were tabbed fourth in both the Big Sky coaches and media polls.

THE BEST BACK COURT IN THE BIG SKY?

• When talking about the Sacramento State men's basketball program, the conversation usually begins with senior guards and team co-captains Dylan Garrity and Mikh McKinney, who combine to form arguably the best back court in the Big Sky Conference.
• Both players can play at point and shooting guard and Coach Katz will use them in both roles throughout the season. They are team co-captains for the second straight year, and both started all 30 games a year ago.
• Last year, McKinney became the first player in school history to be unanimously selected first team all-Big Sky, and then became the first player in the program's Div. I era (1991-pres.) to be selected all-district when he was named second team all-District 6 by the National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC).
• Garrity has been named honorable mention all-Big Sky all three years with the Hornets, and was the league's freshman of the year in 2012. He is the only Hornet to receive all-league recognition more than two times since the program joined the Big Sky in 1996-97.

MORE ON McKINNEY

• McKinney was also named Sacramento State's Male Student-Athlete of the Year last season after averaging 16.6 points, 3.8 rebounds, 4.6 assists and 1.2 steals per game while shooting .482 from the field and .820 from the free throw line.
• Has started all 59 games of his Sacramento State career after spending his freshman season at Ohlone College.
• Last year, he led the team in scoring on 19 occasions, scored in double figures in 26 of 30 games, and tallied at least 21 points on eight occasions.
• In Big Sky play, he led the Hornets in points (17.0 ppg), rebounds (4.3 rpg), assists (5.1 apg), assist-to-turnover ratio (+2.4) and steals (1.3 spg).

MORE ON GARRITY

• Last season, Garrity averaged 13.2 points, 1.7 rebounds, 3.6 assists and 33.8 minutes per game while shooting .466 (123-264) from the field, .472 (75-159) from the 3-point line and .831 (74-89) from the free throw line.
• The .472 three-point percentage was the fourth best mark in the nation among players converting at least 2.5 made three balls per game.
• Buried a 75-footer at the overtime buzzer to defeat Weber State, 78-75, at home in a shot that was dubbed "The Hail Garrity". Video of the shot went viral and was featured on numerous websites including ESPN, CNN, Sports Illustrated, USA Today and Fox News to name a few. In addition, it was the #1 play on SportsCenter's Top 10 Plays.

THE UNDERRATED DEMPS

• One of the more unsung players on the Hornets' roster is junior swingman Cody Demps, who averaged 8.0 points, 4.2 rebounds, 1.9 assists and 1.0 steals per game last year while shooting .450 (86-191) from the field. Demps had averaged just 13.8 minutes per game as a true freshman prior to his production from a year ago.
• Demps is often called upon to guard the opponent's best offensive player.
• One of three players on the Hornets to start all 30 games last season.

STUTEVILLE BECOMING A FORCE

• Checking in at 6-foot-11 and 250 pounds, center Eric Stuteville doesn't look like someone who is just 19 years old. The true sophomore played starter-type minutes during the final eight games last year and was the Hornets' best player in the two exhibition games.
• As a true freshman, he averaged 9.5 points, 4.1 rebounds and 20.6 minutes on .582 shooting from the field over the final eight games last year. He scored in double figures four times during that eight-game span after doing so just twice in the first 22 games.
• His brother, 6-foot-11, 230-pound Mason Stuteville, is a freshman for the Hornets.

ANOTHER TRUE SOPHOMORE LIKELY TO START

• Like Eric Stuteville, another true sophomore, forward Nick Hornsby, will likely be in the starting lineup against Gonzaga.
• Hornsby averaged 5.1 points, 3.8 rebounds and 18.3 minutes over the final eight games of last season. That included 10 pts, 8 reb, 6 ast and 4 stl in the regular season finale against Montana State that clinched the Hornets a Big Sky Tournament berth.