March 9, 2013
GAME #34: The USD Toreros (16-17), the WCC's No. 6 seed, will play the No. 2 seed Saint Mary's Gaels (26-5 record) this evening in the second semifinal contest at approximately 8:30 pm. USD advanced following Friday's 72-69 win over the No. 3 seed BYU Cougars. This is USD first trip back to the WCC semifinals since the 2007-08 campaign. No. 9 seed LMU will face No. 1 seed and top-ranked Gonzaga in the first semifinal at 6:00 pm.
SERIES RECORD: This is the 76th meeting between USD and Saint Mary's College with the Gaels owning a 40-35 edge...The Gaels have won four straight in the series including a 74-64 victory in San Diego back on February 9th... At the time that was USD's fourth game played in a span of eight days... Johnny Dee paced the Toreros with 19 points and 7 rebounds... Christopher Anderson chipped in with 10 points, 6 rebounds, 5 assists and 4 steals... In the first meeting back on January 24th, the Gaels ran away with an 81-48 win... USD's last win over Saint Mary's came at the JCP on Feb. 16, 2011 when the Toreros upset the #23-ranked Gaels, 74-66... This is the fifth time these two teams will have met in the WCC Tournament with the Gaels owning a 3-1 advantage... This is the second time for them to meet in the semifinals, the last time came in Coach Grier's first season (2008) and the No. 3 seed Toreros downed No. 2 Saint Mary's by the score of 75-69, and followed up with a 69-62 upset over No. 1 seed Gonzaga.
RADIO-TV: All USD home and away games will be broadcast live on The Mighty 1090 or ESPN 1700 AM with Andy Masur (6th season) bringing you all the action; his pre-game shows air 15 minutes prior to tip-off. Saturday's game airs on The Mighty 1090. The game will also be televised on ESPN2 (Dave Fleming & Sean Farnham).
WCC STANDINGS (thru Mar. 8th): #1 Gonzaga (16-0 WCC, 29-2), #23 Saint Mary's (14-2, 26-5), Brigham Young (10-6, 21-11), Santa Clara (9-7, 21-11), San Francisco (7-9, 14-16), San Diego (7-9, 16-17), Pepperdine (4-12, 12-18), Portland (4-12, 12-21), Loyola Marymount (1-15, 11-21).
COACH GRIER (6TH YEAR): Coach Bill Grier (Oregon, 1990) is in his sixth season at the helm of the USD program... He enters the Saint Mary's contest with a 16-17 mark and 84-110 career record... Last season's squad finished 13-18, winning 4 of its final 6 regular-season WCC games before falling to BYU by just 5 points in WCC quarterfinals... The 2010-11 season was highlighted by a 74-66 home win over #23 Saint Mary's, along with a 67-64 win over Utah... The 2009-10 season was highlighted by wins over Stanford, #25 Oklahoma, Houston and Boise State... His 2008-09 campaign (16-16) was highlighted by road wins over Oregon and Mississippi State... In his rookie year (2007-08) he guided the Toreros to an overall mark of 22-14 and 3rd place finish in the WCC race at 11-3... He guided the Toreros to three wins and the championship title at the WCC Tournament with wins over Pepperdine, Saint Mary's and No. 20 Gonzaga... The Toreros then upset No. 15 UCONN in the NCAA Tourney opener with a 70-69 overtime victory, before falling to Western Kentucky in the second round... His 11 WCC wins were the second most for league wins in a single season in program history... Grier is USD's 11th head coach overall and just the 4th head coach since the Torero program moved to the NCAA Division I ranks in 1979-80... His 22 wins in 2007-08 were also the most by a Torero coach in his first season at USD. In addition to knocking off Kentucky on the road, 81-72, the Toreros earned three wins over Top-25 teams: #21 Saint Mary's, #20 Gonzaga and #15 Connecticut... Bill and his wife, Nicole, have two daughters, Giselle & Ashley.
TORERO TIDBITS: USD's win over BYU last night was their third straight victory... In this win streak the Toreros are being paced by Johnny Dee (18.3 ppg), Christopher Anderson (13.0 ppg), and Ken Rancifer (11.0 ppg)... USD is now 6-11 in games played away from the JCP this season where they finished with a 10-6 home mark... USD's trio of seniors - Chris Manresa, Cameron Miles and Ken Rancifer - are winding down their four-year careers... The Torero seniors head into tonight's contest against SMC with the following career numbers - Manresa (116 games with 62 starts, 876 points, 637 rebounds), Miles (113 games, 348 points, 142 assists, 84 steals) and Rancifer (121 games with 81 starts, 957 points, 276 rebounds, 120 made three-pointers)... With 179 assists on the season, Christopher Anderson is second all-time for a single USD season (the all-time record is 195, David Fizdale, 1995-96... Fiz is currently an NBA assistant coach with Miami).
KOK CLOSING IN ON SINGLE SEASON SHOT BLOCK RECORD: Jito Kok, USD's 6'9" freshman center from Wageningen, Netherlands, currently owns 53 blocked shots on the season... He cruised past the previous USD freshman mark of 38 when he totaled 4 blocks against the Gonzaga Bulldogs (Feb. 2, 2013)... He is first in the WCC (1.6)... Heading into the Saint Mary's game tonight, Kok still has a chance at the all-time USD Division I mark... He currently is 2nd all-time with 53 blocks and is chasing #1- Dondi Bell, 55 ('88-89). Former WCC Player of the Year Scott Thompson owns the USD career mark for blocked shots with 183 (1983-87).
TOREROS DEFEAT BYU, 72-69: The USD Toreros delivered their biggest win of the season with Friday's 72-69 victory over the No. 3 seed BYU Cougars. Sophomore guard Johnny Dee poured in 25 points, including some key free throws in the closing moments to advance the Toreros into Saturday's 8:30 p.m. semifinal against the No. 2 seed Saint Mary's Gaels. It was a total team effort and Dee was followed in the double-digit scoring column by guard Christopher Anderson (16 points) and forward Ken Rancifer (15 points). A trey by Dee with 4:18 to go in the first half extended USD's lead to eleven at 31-20, but BYU got within five points before Rancifer cashed in on two free throws for a 35-28 intermission lead. The second half was just a battle at both ends of the floor with the game being tied on five different occasions over the final 20 minutes. Two free throws and a three-pointer from Anderson gave USD a one-point lead (59-58) with 4:12 to go. BYU held its final lead of the game at 60-59 on a Tyler Haws jumper, but Dee immediately answered with another three-pointer for a 65-62 advantage. From there USD made 7-of-8 free throws with Dee going 5-6 in the final 23 seconds to hold off the Cougars. A Matt Carlino three-pointer with eight ticks left got the Cougars within one at 70-69, but Dee iced the game moments later with his final two free throws. USD also received key play from Chris Manresa (10 reb) and Jito Kok (7 points, 5 reb, 2 blocks).