GAME NOTES: MEN'S HOOPS OPENS SEASON FRIDAY AT ARIZONA STATE

GAME NOTES: MEN'S HOOPS OPENS SEASON FRIDAY AT ARIZONA STATE

Sacramento State Game Notes (pdf) - 26 pages
Big Sky Conference Standings

GAME PREVIEW

• Sacramento State kicks off the 2015-16 season on Friday when the team travels to Tempe to take on Arizona State. Tip-off at Wells Fargo Arena is set for 4:35 p.m. PST.
• The Hornets are coming off a record-breaking season in which the team went 21-12 overall and 13-5 in the Big Sky while securing its first overall record above .500, first postseason appearance in the Div. I era (1991-pres.), and first postseason win in 53 years.
• The postseason win came in a CIT First Round victory at Portland. In addition, the 21 wins tied for the second most in program history (1948-pres.) and 13 league wins were most ever.
• The Hornets have played Arizona State twice, with both games taking place in Tempe and the Sun Devils winning each time. The last time the two teams met was Dec. 1, 2012, a 90-70 ASU victory (box on pg. 10). The Sun Devils also won, 85-73, during the 1995-96 season.
• Beginning its 25th season as a Div. I member, Sacramento State is 7-17 in season openers since making the jump to the Div. I ranks in 1991.
• Arizona State, a member of the Pac-12 Conference, went 18-16 last season and qualified for the NIT. The Sun Devils won at UConn, 68-61, in the first round of the tournament before falling in the second round in overtime at Richmond.
• Friday will mark the Arizona State coaching debut of Bobby Hurley, who was named the team's head coach on April 9, 2015. Hurley had gone 42-20 during the previous two years as head coach at Buffalo prior to taking the Arizona State job.
• The Hornets return 10 players from last season's team, including three starters in senior guard Cody Demps, junior center Eric Stuteville and junior forward Nick Hornsby. Demps and Hornsby are team co-captains.

TV/RADIO/VIDEO STREAM/LIVE STATS

• Friday night's game will be televised live on the Pac-12 Network (Arizona) with Jim Watson and Mary Murphy on the call.
• In addition, a video stream of the game will be provided via www.pac-12.com/live.
• Every game this year will be broadcast live on KTKZ 1380 AM The Answer with 19th-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.
• Beginning with the Hornets' home opener on Nov. 20, free HD video streams will be provided for all home games this season via www.WatchBigSky.com. In addition, all road games played in a Big Sky Conference venue will be streamed free.
• Live stats will be provided for every game this year.
• Links for all multimedia options can be found next to each game on the men's basketball schedule at www.hornetsports.com.

EXHIBITION GAME RECAP

• Playing its lone exhibition game, Sacramento State saw all 13 players score in the Hornets' 103-63 home victory over Simpson last Friday (box on pg. 9).
• Not only did all 13 score, but eight of those players recorded at least seven points in a balanced attack for the Hornets.
• Sacramento State jumped out to a 23-2 lead during the game's first seven and a half minutes, and cruised the rest of the way. In fact, the Hornets led by double figures for all but 2:24 of the contest, and led by as many as 46 points late in the second half.
• The Hornets shot .515 (34-66) from the field, .400 (10-25) from the 3-point line and .758 (25-33) from the free throw line while tallying 24 assists compared to just 11 turnovers.
• The Hornets held a massive 55-24 edge in the rebounding department, and 20 of those boards came on the offensive glass leading to 23 second-chance points.
• Sacramento State also had nine blocked shots and limited Simpson, an NAIA team from Redding, Calif., to just .373 shooting (22-59) from the field.
• The Hornets had five players score in double figures, comprised of Justin Strings (15 points, 7 rebounds, 2 blocks), Nick Hornsby (14 points, 13 rebounds, 6 assists, 2 blocks), Mason Stuteville (11 points, 5 rebounds), Jeff Wu (11 points, 3 assists) and Marcus Graves (10 points, 4 rebounds, 3 assists).
• Of those five players, four are underclassmen including three sophomores (Graves, Strings, Stuteville) and one true freshman (Wu).
• Hornsby finished four assists shy of a triple-double and shot 5-of-7 from the field and 4-for-6 from the free throw line. Graves played a team-high 24 minutes.

SEASON OPENERS

• Entering its 68th season, the men's basketball program has not fared well in season openers since the first year of play in 1948-49.
• The Hornets are 21-46 all-time in season openers, including a 7-17 record since joining the Div. I ranks in 1991-92.
• The Hornets had won three straight season openers until that streak was snapped in last season's opener at then 13th-ranked Gonzaga.

COMING OFF A RECORD-BREAKING SEASON

• Sacramento State finished the 2014-15 season with a 21-12 overall record and a 13-5 mark in the Big Sky Conference. Prior to last season, the Hornets had never finished with an overall record above .500 since joining the Div. I ranks in 1991-92.
• The 21 victories were tied for the second most in program history (1948-pres.), and the 13 conference wins were the most in school history (regardless of conference). All of this from a program that had just three winning seasons the previous 38 years.
• The Hornets advanced to the postseason for the first time in the Div. I era, and won at Portland in the first round of the CIT, marking the program's first postseason win in 53 years.
• The Hornets were ranked in the CollegeInsider.com Mid Major Poll for the first time in school history (ranking as high as 14th) and the team finished just one game out of first place in the Big Sky, narrowly missing the program's first league title since 1977.
• The Hornets never lost more than two straight games, and had three winning streaks of at least four games, including a seven gamer, tied for sixth longest in school history.
• The Hornets finished the year 13-2 at home, tied for the most home wins in program history, and were the only Big Sky team to finish league play undefeated at home (9-0).

COACH KATZ THE REIGNING MID-MAJOR COACH OF THE YEAR

• Head coach Brian Katz was named by CollegeInsider.com as the 2015 National Mid-Major Coach of the Year after having already received District 6 Coach of the Year and Big Sky co-Coach of the Year honors.
• He became the first men's hoops coach in school history to win those awards.
• A graduate of Sacramento State, Coach Katz recently signed a contract extension that will keep him at the helm of the program through at least the 2019-20 season.

IMPROVEMENT EVERY YEAR UNDER COACH KATZ

• 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, 10-10 in 2013-14, and finally 13-5 last season.

LEAN YEARS IN THE REAR-VIEW MIRROR

• To put last season's 21-12 and 13-5 records into context, one has to understand how far the program has come after some dubious years in the Div. I era.
• Since joining the Div. I ranks prior to the 1991-92 season, the Hornets had never finished with an overall record above .500. That rough run ended last year.
• Prior to last season, Sacramento State's overall record in the Div. I era was 189-475 (.269 winning percentage), and 86-211 (.266) in Big Sky Conference play.
• At one point, the Hornets lost 34 straight games, from 1997 until 1999.

AGAINST THE PAC-12 CONFERENCE

• Since Sacramento State began playing basketball in 1948, the Hornets are just 3-36 against the Pac-12 Conference's current affiliates.
• However, the team has won twice in the last six years against a Pac-12 opponent, including a 74-71 win at Utah on Nov. 16, 2012, and 65-63 at Oregon State in 2009.
• Prior to the Oregon State win, the Hornets lost 29 straight games against members of what had been the Pac-10.
• The only team that Sacramento State has yet to play from the Pac-12 Conference's current alignment is Arizona. The Hornets are 0-2 against Arizona State.

PLAYING WITHOUT GARRITY AND McKINNEY

• 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. The combination was the best back court in the Big Sky Conference and one of the best back courts on the West Coast.
• Both players graduated in the spring and are currently enjoying professional careers overseas. McKinney is playing in Belgium, and Garrity is playing in Portugal.
• McKinney was an AP honorable mention All-American and the Big Sky's MVP after averaging 19.2 points, 4.9 assists and 2.4 steals while shooting .507 from the field.
• Garrity earned all-league recognition all four years of his career and 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 program career scoring.

HORNETS RETURN 10 PLAYERS, INCLUDING 3 STARTERS

• The Hornets return 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 those three players started at least 30 games last season, and ranked third, fourth and fifth, respectively, on the team in scoring.
• All 10 returners have at least one year of playing experience in a Sacramento State uniform, including a pair of fourth-year seniors (Demps, guard Dreon Barlett) and three third-year juniors (Hornsby, Stuteville, guard Trevis Jackson).
• The Hornets were selected to finish in a tie for fourth out of 12 teams in the Big Sky preseason media poll, and 10th in the coaches poll.
• The disparity between the two polls was the largest of any team in the Big Sky.

A PROFICIENT SHOOTING TEAM FROM EVERYWHERE

• Last year, the Hornets were one of just five teams in the nation to rank among the top 10 squads in both field goal percentage (8th, .486) and 3-point percentage (4th, .408).
• In addition, the team was 36th in the nation in free throw percentage (.736).
• The Hornets shot at least .500 from the field on 14 occasions last year.
• The .486 field goal percentage was the second best in school history (.491 in '85-86).
• The .408 3-point percentage was also the second best (.418 in 1987-88).

TAKING CARE OF THE BALL

• The Hornets were 33rd in the nation last season with just 10.8 turnovers per game.
• The team turned the ball over nine times or less on 11 occasions.
• The Hornets turned it over just 9.4 times in league play, the best mark in the Big Sky.
• Sacramento State's +1.31 assist-to-turnover ratio was the 32nd best mark in the nation.

SUCCESS IN THE CLASSROOM

• Of the 24 Hornets that have expired their eligibility during Coach Katz's tenure with the program, 22 have graduated.
• The team enters the 2015-16 season with a 3.04 overall grade point average.
• The team's 3.15 gpa during the 2014 fall semester was the highest in school history.

HORNET NOTABLES

• Traditionally a guard-dominated team, the Hornets may lean heavier on post players this season as they have three players standing 6-foot-10 or taller in brothers Eric and Mason Stuteville (6-11) and James Herrick (6-10).
• Senior Cody Demps has started 63 straight games dating back to his sophomore year.
• Freshman guard Jeff Wu is the first men's basketball player from Taiwan to receive a Div. I scholarship.
• Demps and junior forward Nick Hornsby are this year's team co-captains.
• If he had enough attempts to qualify, Dreon Barlett's .436 career 3-point percentage (41-94) would rank as the third best mark in school history.
• When junior Nick Hornsby signed prior to the 2013-14 season, he was 6-7, 200 pounds. Since then, he has added 30 pounds of muscle and now weighs 230.
• Brothers Eric (6-11, 245) and Mason (6-11, 230) Stuteville attended the same high school as Coach Katz....Casa Roble High School in Orangevale.
• Sophomore Justin Strings (6-7, 235) grew an inch and added 25 pounds in one year.
• Freshmen Joshua Patton and Aaron Harmetz will both redshirt this year.