Text-Only Site

MEN’S HOOPS SEASON QUICKLY APPROACHING, 1ST OFFICIAL PRACTICE ON FRIDAY

MEN’S HOOPS SEASON QUICKLY APPROACHING, 1ST OFFICIAL PRACTICE ON FRIDAY

SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- The Sacramento State men's basketball team, fresh off a record-breaking season and led by eighth-year head coach Brian Katz, begins its preseason practice schedule this Friday, Oct. 2.

Practice will continue five days a week leading up to the team's lone exhibition game against Simpson at home on Friday, Nov. 6. The Hornets' season opener is Friday, Nov. 13, at Arizona State, and the home opener will take place on Nov. 20 vs. Holy Names at 7:05 p.m. That game is the first of a season-long four-game homestand that will also see the Hornets host UC Davis, South Dakota and Pacific.

Below are some notes on the team heading into the 2015-16 season.

QUICK HITS

• Sacramento State is coming off a record-breaking season in which it went 21-12 overall and 13-5 in the Big Sky while securing its first postseason appearance in the Div. I era (1991-pres.), and first postseason win in 53 years. The overall record marked the first time in the Div. I era that Sacramento State finished above the .500 mark, the 21 victories tied for second most in program history (1948-pres.), and the 13 conference wins were the most in school history (regardless of conference). The postseason victory came in a CIT First Round road win at Portland.

• The Hornets have improved their conference record every season of head coach Brian Katz's seven-year tenure at Sacramento State (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 in 2013-14; 13-5 in 2014-15).

• In early September, Coach Katz signed a five-year extension that will keep him at Sacramento State through at least the 2019-20 season. He was named by CollegeInsider.com as the National Mid-Major Coach of the Year in 2015 after having already received District 6 Coach of the Year and Big Sky Conference co-Coach of the Year honors. He became the first men's basketball coach in Sacramento State history to receive all three of those awards.

• Sacramento State welcomes back 10 players from last season's team, including three starters in senior guard Cody Demps, junior center Eric Stuteville and junior forward Nick Hornsby. Each of the three started at least 30 games last season, and ranked third, fourth and fifth, respectively, in scoring. Demps is one of two fourth-year seniors on the squad (Dreon Barlett) while both Stuteville and Hornsby are third-year juniors. Demps and Hornsby will serve as this year's team captains.

• Joining Demps, Stuteville, Hornsby and Barlett on the list of returners are junior guard Trevis Jackson, sophomore guards Marcus Graves and Jiday Ugbaja, sophomore forwards Justin Strings and Mason Stuteville, and sophomore center James Herrick. The four newcomers are all freshmen in guards Jeff Wu (Modesto Christian HS) and Aaron Harmetz (C.K. McClatchy HS), and forwards Joshua Patton (Sierra HS) and Grant Dressler (Palo Verde HS). Patton will redshirt this season.

• The team will have to compensate for the loss of two of the top players in program history in guards Mikh McKinney and Dylan Garrity. McKinney was an honorable mention All-American and the Big Sky MVP after averaging 19.2 points, 4.9 assists and 2.4 steals per game while shooting .507 from the field and .430 from the 3-point line. Garrity, who earned all-league recognition all four years of his career, is Sacramento State's all-time leader in assists, games played, games started and minutes played. McKinney and Garrity rank fourth and sixth, respectively, in career scoring at Sacramento State. Both McKinney (Belgium) and Garrity (Portugal) are currently playing professionally overseas.

• Last year's squad set Div. I-era school single-season records (1991-pres.) in points scored (2,342), field goals made (841), field goal percentage (.486), 3-point field goal percentage (.408), free throw percentage (.736), assists (466) and assists per game (14.1). The Hornets finished among the top 10 teams in the nation in both 3-point field goal percentage (4th) and field goal percentage (8th) while also ranking 36th in free throw percentage. In fact, those three percentages all rank as the second best marks since Sacramento State began playing basketball in 1948.

• The Hornets sold out each of their final six home games of 2014-15, including a CIT second round game against Northern Arizona in which the Hornets were hosting their first postseason game since March 10, 1962. Sacramento State also won nine straight home games at one point, and finished the year with a 13-2 home record, tied for the most home wins in program history. The Hornets were the only team in the Big Sky to win all nine of their conference home games last season.

• Not only did the program excel on the hardwood last year, the Hornets also excelled in the classroom where the team posted a 3.15 grade point average during the 2014 fall semester, the highest cumulative gpa in school history for the men's basketball program. The squad enters the 2015-16 season with an overall grade point average of 3.04. Moreover, of the 24 Hornets that have expired their eligibility during Coach Katz's tenure, 22 have graduated.

• The 14-man roster features two seniors, three juniors, five sophomores and four freshmen. The team is guard-heavy again, as nine of the 14 players could see time in the back court this year. Both Dressler and Hornsby will primarily play at forward, but could also see time at guard.

• The Hornets will break out a brand new set of gold uniforms this year, which will serve as the team's alternate set of unis. Sacramento State will still wear the whites and greens like seasons past. The last time the Hornets wore gold was a home game against UC Irvine on Nov. 30, 2013. When wearing its gold jerseys over the years, Sacramento State is a combined 33-15 overall and 19-9 in conference play. The Hornets, who also wore gold in the mid-2000s, were 6-1 when wearing the color in seven conference games during the 2012-13 season.

• Dating back to the beginning of the 2012-13 season, Sacramento State is 34-9 at the Nest, including a 13-2 record at home last season. Of the team's 29 games on the regular season schedule, 15 will come at home.

• Last year, the Hornets committed just 10.8 turnovers per game, the 33rd best mark in the nation. That included an average of 9.4 turnovers during conference play, easily the best mark in the Big Sky. In addition, Sacramento State's assist-to-turnover margin of +1.31 ranked as the 32nd best mark in the country.

• Last season, the Hornets were 5-2 in games decided by three points or less, 7-5 in games decided by five points or less, and 12-6 in games decided by single digits. Of the Hornets' 13 conference wins, nine came by eight points or less.
 
• After a one-year hiatus from playing UC Davis, the Hornets and Aggies will play a home-and-home series this year with the first game taking place in Sacramento on Nov. 24, and the next in Davis on Dec. 2.

• 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 game.

• Steve McElroy returns for his 19th 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 for the third straight year, 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.