USD Men's Basketball 2001-2002

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usually a stepping stone to the big– time for coaches who have built the program from the ground up. Similar to the case of Jay Wright at Hofstra, Gary Waters left Kent State in April 2001 following five seasons and three straight 20-win seasons in Ohio to become the head coach at Rutgers. But the Golden Flashes did not promote from within as the Pride did. Instead they chose an assistant coach from a top-notch program with a national title on his resume. His name is Stan Heath, and the Kent State faithful believe he is just the man to build upon Waters' groundwork. Heath, a former assistant at Michigan State, walks into a program not on the rise, but already near the top. His situation is very similar to Few's at Gonzaga, after the departure of Don Monson in 1999. What Heath will be expected to do is keep winning and keep the Golden Flashes in the thick of the MAC conference title hunt. Heath's recruiting, for this year's

without a senior on the squad. "We know this season will be a big challenge for us, " Pecora said. "It will be much tougher to win on the road in the CAA because the league is so balanced and we're replacing so many people." Changes and challenges aside, Hofstra has been impressive over the last two years. Besides having the fifth best record in the nation since January 1, 2000 (45-8), the Pride came very close to knocking off UCLA in last year's NCAA Tournament, leading late into the second half but eventually falling, 61-48. Pecora believes that Hofstra can continue to improve but warns that this will be a year of adjustments. "We 'll still be talented, but there's no substitute for experi– ence, and a new conference and new people will make it tough to get back (to the Tournament), " said Pecora. No Flash in the Pan Continued success at a mid– major college brings casualties as well as victories. Losing seniors is something every team must deal with but mid-major schools are


Despite being the lone Hofstra starter to return in 2001-02, Rick Apodaca (above) looks to lead the Pride and first-year head coach Tom Pecora (left) to athird consecutive NCAA Tournament bid.

class at least, was already done for him and the class is heavy with talent from the Midwest. Michigan and Ohio products dominate the roster: four of the team's five seniors hail from these two states. "Our strengths are in our backcourt and the leadership from our five seniors. With experience from last year's team returning, we should continue to excel in areas such as defense, free-throw shooting and field-goal percentage defense, " Heath said. As Kent State gears up for the sea–

son, with expectations high while gun– ning for that fourth consecutive 20-win season, Heath has challenged his play– ers to get past the second round of the Tournament, a spot where they suffered a 23-point drubbing at the hands of Cincinnati last year. "These kids understand what it takes to win and because of that, we have a chance to succeed this season, hopefully more so now than ever," said Heath. Gonzaga is no longer Cinderella. She's legitimate royalty now But on the edge of the dance floor stand many will– ing to take her old spot. Who will it be this year? Who will make that magical

Trevor Huffman and the Golden Rashes have taken a step in the right direction with last year's first-round upset of Indiana. Now, Stan Heath looks to use his postseason experience in leadingKent State even further.

run from anonymity to acknowledgement? Only one thing is certain: we'll know for sure in March.

Joshua M. Shreckengost is a member of the PSP editorial staff.

College H2... ,c:"Ps;

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