After seeing his team get crushed on the road against No. 10 USC in its season opener, Titans Head Coach Dedrique Taylor is thinking about more than just getting an upset win.
When the Titans take on the No. 21 Saint Mary’s Gaels, Taylor just wants to see progress.
“I mean that is the whole process, that’s the whole point. It’s not how good you are now or how bad you are now,” Taylor said. “Sure you want to win early and you want to win often but the process: Is are you getting better? Is your ball club getting better in the concepts and the principles that you believe are necessary to allow you to win at the end of the year?”
It wouldn’t take much for the Titans to show progress from their beatdown at the hands of the Trojans. CSUF shot 23.3 percent from the field and 10.5 percent from three against USC while turning the ball over 21 times, allowing the Trojans to light them up for 41.7 percent shooting from behind the arc.
Taylor said that night he would need to look at the tape in order to try to find some positives, and in the days since the defeat, he’s managed to find a few.
“I thought there was a handful of possessions particularly toward the latter part of the first half where we executed the process. We just didn’t finish or complete the process by making the shot,” Taylor said.
The Titans will have to actually hit their shots if they want to show any improvement, much less have a chance to upset Saint Mary’s.
The Gaels are 2-0, and their last victory was a 92-74 win over New Mexico State. Star big man Jock Londale led the team with a 20-point, 10-rebound double-double in that victory, and Taylor knows limiting him will be a challenge.
“You have to pay special attention to him because they do believe in playing from the inside out, and they let him touch it often and early and see what you’re going to do, and try to get you in a rotation so that they can kick it out to their shooters,” Taylor said.
The shooters Taylor mentioned lit New Mexico State up for 50 percent shooting from distance while freeing Londale to operate in space. Taylor said the Titans will have to play “almost perfect basketball” and use their athletic advantage at the guard spots defensively if they’re going to have any chance to shock the Gaels on the road.
“We’ve got to do a much, much better job at what we did against USC in terms of just defensively having a presence,” Taylor said. “They pretty much did whatever they wanted, however they wanted, whenever they wanted. Thus they shot ridiculous percentages from the floor.”
Those are tall tasks, and thus actually beating Saint Mary’s on the road Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. won’t be easy. But Taylor said he’d be satisfied with just baby steps forward after last Friday’s shellacking.
“Right now, we got to find small victories by doing what it is that we are trying to execute possession after possession on both sides of the ball,” Taylor said.