“I can, I will, I must,” is the University San Diego Toreros men’s basketball slogan for this upcoming season. It’s about as perfect as a slogan can be for the young team that Lamont Smith has put together.
It will give the fans and alumni some hope going forward that Toreros won’t be towards the bottom of the West Coast Conference standings. Those who represent the school wearing columbia blue, navy, and white should no longer worry, because Lamont Smith has what it takes to be successful at USD.
Smith and company have done a great job in nabbing two great transfers in Isaiah Wright and Isaiah Pineiro. Wright comes from University of Utah, a great program that plays against a lot of tough competition in the Pac-12 and has NCAA tournament experience, which is always a bonus.
In addition, Pineiro hails from Portland State where he was a key cog in the Vikings’ plans last year. Pineiro was a clear go to guy for Portland State. Both young men have to sit out this 2016-2017 basketball season, but will be ready to step up and take the keys from Brett Bailey, who has been a leader on that team and the only senior on this team. Bailey will be an important void to fill after this season.
Although Bailey is though by many to be a glue guy, he should figure to be a dominant player on the team for next season. This Spokane, Washington native will be a Grandy Glaze type player for San Diego this year which will only help the Toreros.
Along with Bailey, those who have to guard Olin Carter III will have their hands full and for much of the season might have to dictate how they play defense based on Carter III’s success on the offensive side of the ball.
Carter III will be the cold blooded, ice in the veins, go-to-guy for big shots and big stops. He will be the key for USD to climb out of the basement of the WCC for this upcoming season. Even if these Toreros finish last this season that doesn't mean Coach Smith did not coach these guys up. This squad is young and are planning for a future that should be bright with all the talent that is starting to funnel in.
Obviously, the games against Gonzaga and BYU are big ones, but one school in the WCC that most should pay attention to and spend their hard earned cash on seeing would when the USD meet up with St. Mary’s. With how the Rob Jones situation went down with loopholes, has in some regard turned these two schools’ basketball programs into bitter rivals, even to the point of being borderline nasty between the administrations.
Bottom line is USD might not get to a .500 record, but to my Torero fans and alumni, trust in Coach Smith’s system and pack the Jenny Craig Pavilion and show the rest of the WCC and the nation how passionate you all are for your Toreros.