Midseason review: Defense and depth key to Gators postseason push

It has been an up-and-down season so far for the men’s basketball team, who are looking to make a strong push at the end of the season to secure a playoff spot.

The top eight teams out of the 13 in the California Collegiate Athletic Association make it into the postseason. The Gators are currently tied for eighth in the conference with Stanislaus State. Overall, the Gators have a 10-7 record, but the team has a 4-7 record in conference games and there are nine games left on the Gators’ schedule – all conference match-ups.

Inexperience has cost SF State in some close conference games, according to head coach Paul Trevor.

“Our major problem is our ability to finish games,” Trevor said. “We get tentative late in the game and don’t knock teams out.”

The Gators have two losses in overtime this season and a heartbreaking one-point loss to Cal State Monterey Bay on Jan. 2.

While the team may be inexperienced, with six new transfer players and one true freshman, Trevor said they have exceptional depth. The team’s depth allows players to play fewer minutes and get more comfortable with the flow of the game.

“We have a lot of guys who can come in and score off the bench,” Trevor said. “We have so many different guys that can contribute that it makes it difficult for other teams to prepare for us.”

The Gators’ leading scorer, Coley Apsay, averages 11.1 points and 28.3 minutes per game. Apsay is ranked 24th in points in the CCAA, but Trevor said it’s a team effort on offense. New players, such as guards Treaven Duffy and Warren Jackson, have been important on offense for the Gators.

Duffy, a transfer from Saint Mary’s College, has averaged seven points per game and has the third most assists on the team, with 25. He said his biggest challenge this year has been adjusting to a new team and a new system.

“I had to find a way to adjust to a new team real well,” Duffy said. “Over the course of the season, I’ve adjusted much better. I think that individually I’ve just fit the system more. As a team, we are starting to build our identity. I think it’s going to come on the defensive end.”

The defensive side of the ball is where Duffy and Jackson said they’d like to put their focus for the rest of the season. The team has plenty of scorers, but depth allows the players to play hard on defense for five minutes, and then be subbed out for other fresh bodies.

“Players go in not expecting to play the entire time, but go in and give it everything they got,” Duffy said. “We know we have another player waiting to come in who can score just as well, so we can go all out on the defensive end.”

Jackson, a junior college transfer who averages nine points a game, said defensive intensity is a key part of the Gators’ identity.

“We pride ourselves on defense,” Jackson said. “It’s about taking the challenge of not letting your man score and helping another teammate out. It’s about making the right moves to improve your defense.”

The Gators currently rank sixth in the CCAA in scoring defense, only allowing 69 points per game.

Trevor said he loves the unselfishness and intensity of his team, and that their best basketball is still yet to come.

“We have to solidify ourselves and climb up the ladder,” Trevor said. “We are getting better, and it’s possible that this team could be very dangerous in February.”

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