PREVIEW: Gator men's basketball rebuilds team morale for upcoming season

SF State
SF State Gators' Nefi Perdomo (13), left, and Calvin Otiono (10), center, practice inside The Swamp in San Francisco Monday, Oct. 22, 2012. The Gators start preseason play Oct. 27. Photo by Godofredo Vasquez / Xpress

The hardwood floor of the gym is polished, the doors are open and the Gator men’s basketball team is anxious to get their season started.

The Gators are justified in their anxiety to put last season to bed as they finished 9-19 overall, and 7-15 in CCAA play. The team aims to move toward a fresh start in the 2012-13 season.

“Last year we struggled. We really thought of it as a rebuilding year; we wanted to develop our younger players and it got better as we did win five out of our last seven (games),” head coach Paul Trevor said.

While there were very few returning players for the Gators last season, this year three starters — Nefi Perdomo, Max Fodor and James Albright — are all back for more.

SF State
SF State Gators' Calvin Otiono (10), left, guards head coach Paul Trevor, center, as the coach breaks down an exercise during the basketball teams' practice inside The Swamp in San Francisco Monday, Oct. 22, 2012. The Gators start preseason play Oct. 27. Photo by Godofredo Vasquez / Xpress

Perdomo, a fourth-year starter, was named to last season’s CCAA second team all-conference for the second time in his SF State career, leading the Gators with 15.5 points and 3.3 assists while racking up 2.9 rebounds and 1.6 steals per game.

“I’d trade all the individual awards for a conference championship. This season isn’t about individuals; it’s about how far all of us as a group can go,” Perdomo said.

The mix of prior experience combined with new players — including San Joaquin Delta transfer Calvin Otiono, who Trevor described as “a guy who can run the team from the guard position,” and forward Decensae White — bodes well for the team.

Other standouts include sophomore guards Robbie Herndon and Andre Jones.

“We have a lot of guys that can score, a lot of guys that can defend. We have length, athleticism (and) talent, period,” senior forward Winston Demmin said.

Trevor emphasized that he was excited for the talent on his team, adding that the athleticism of his players will allow them to play the up-tempo style of basketball that is attractive for fans who love to watch high-octane offenses.

“We just have so many athletic guys on our team,” Demmin said. “We have to be in shape for that style of play, so we need to work hard, then we can make the other team tired, and from there our talent will shine.”

The talented Gators, who were under .500 last season, have set ambitious goals for themselves with Trevor and Perdomo both adamantly stating they would settle for nothing less than a CCAA conference championship.

“Our first goal is obviously to win a conference championship. It’s something they all want and should expect. We have the talent on this team to do it,” Trevor said.

It would be the first time the Gators would hang a CCAA championship banner in the rafters of their gym, but it’s only their first goal. Their second is to qualify for the Division II NCAA tournament, Trevor said.

“It would be a great accomplishment for these guys to reach that,” he said. “If you went in there and said fifth place is what we’re shooting for, then you’re setting your bar too low. That’s what they expect from themselves, if they didn’t, then I’d have to address why they didn’t expect that from themselves.”