Coyotes rewarded at No. 15 national ranking


An eight-game winning streak capped by defeating a top-10 opponent caught the attention of those who best follow Division II men’s basketball as the Coyotes find themselves ranked 15th in this week’s National Basketball Coaches Association Top-25 poll.

CSUSB basketball logoThe Coyotes, 8-1 overall and on top of the CCAA at 6-0, are one game better than ninth-ranked Cal Poly Pomona in league entering play this weekend.

This week’s ranking marks the first time in five seasons that the Coyotes have earned top-25 acclaim. The last time CSUSB made the poll was March 11, 2008, when they took a 14th-ranking into the NCAA West Regional in Anchorage, Alaska.

West Liberty, which has scored 100 or more points in nine consecutive games, held onto the top spot while Metropolitan State, Alabama-Huntsville, Bellarmine and defending NCAA champion Western Washington all stayed in the next four places, respectively.

Three West Region teams join the Coyotes in this week’s poll — No. 4 Western Washington, No. 8 Seattle Pacific and No. 9 CPP.

Keep an eye on …
The Coyotes have been excellent at maintaining leads down the stretch. CSUSB is 5-0 when it is leading with 5 minutes remaining in the game. The Coyotes also are adept at winning close games. They are 4-0 in games decided by 5 points or less OR in overtime.

Sparkplugs off the bench
Sophomore Jamari Simmons, junior Joshua Gouch and senior Juan Martinez have played big roles recently off the bench. Simmons is 4th in scoring at 9.4 ppg in a reserve role and leads the team in 3-pointers (21)… Last weekend, Gouch scored 10 at Humboldt State and followed it with nine at Cal Poly Pomona. Martinez scored all 12 of his points from 3-point land against Cal Poly Pomona in just 13 minutes.

Limiting turnovers
Controlling the ball is a big reason why the Coyotes are enjoying their 8-game winning streak. For the season, the Coyotes are averaging 9.4 turnovers/game and have had only one game of more than 11 turnovers (Westmont-12). Since that loss, the Coyotes have won the turnover battle in each game.

Something to chew on
Did you know that CSUSB trailed in its game against No. 6 Cal Poly Pomona only 2 minutes and 3 seconds in Saturday’s 67-63 victory? The largest deficit the Coyotes faced was two points on three separate occasions.

Nearing 200 at Coussoulis
The Coyotes are 196-39 all-time (.835) inside Coussoulis and look to break the record sometime in February. Coach Oliver owns the majority of those victories, going 116-19 record inside the big, white dome on San Bernardino’s north side.

Making good things happen after turnovers
Quality guard play has been a difference maker for the Coyotes through their nine games and in particular their six CCAA contests. In those games, CSUSB is outscoring the opposition on average 16-7 on points off turnovers, forcing on average 15.8 turnovers a game. CSUSB turns the ball over 9.4 times/game.

Welcome back, Kwame
All-CCAA and West Region post player Kwame Alexander has scored in double figures in four of his five games since returning after an academic issue. His streak of four straight ended with nine points at Cal Poly Pomona. He has pulled down double-figures in rebounds in each of the last two games. In his career, he owns 30 double-figure point games and 13 double-figure rebounds.

Nicely done, from 3-point land
Sophomore Jamari Simmons (21 total) and junior Lacy Haddock (16) have each scored at least one 3-pointer in each of the Coyotes’ nine games. On the season, CSUSB has outscored its opponents 234-153 from 3-point land. The Coyotes have scored at least one 3-pointer in each game during the Oliver era (297). Not since their game against Winona State on Nov. 25, 2000, has CSUSB not scored a 3-pointer – a stretch of 352 consecutive games.

Trailing at halftime? No problem
In 5 of the last 8 games, the Coyotes have trailed at halftime and come back to post victories. CSUSB trailed UCSD by three, Cal State L.A. by four, Cal Baptist by four, 10 against Azusa Pacific and one against Humboldt State. The Coyotes have led at halftime three times– losing at Westmont and defeating Cal State Dominguez Hills and Cal Poly Pomona.