Powerful Momentum Leads Cougar Hoops into Second Season
By Ashley Johnson, Writing Intern
After a strong opening season, CSUSM men’s and women’s basketball left a lasting first impression that has undoubtedly marked the two teams as a force to be reckoned with as they take to the court for their second year. Led by determined head coaches and armed with a crop of top athletic talent, CSUSM basketball has solidified itself as North County’s official home team.
"Our athletes bring a lot of energy on the court. Once people see it and feel it, they’re hooked," said CSUSM men’s basketball Head Coach Jim Saia.
The CSUSM men finished 19-12 overall and advanced all the way to the Association of Independent Institutions (A.I.I.) Conference title game. Fans erupted when guard Tim Steed threw down a tomahawk dunk to record the Cougar’s first-ever points on Nov. 5, 2011 which set the tone for the rest of the season. Steed, who averaged 16.1 points and 3.6 assists per game, logged another first for CSUSM basketball when he was honored as a National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) All-American.
The CSUSM women took home the A.I.I. Conference crown and made an appearance in the NAIA national tournament. Recognizing the strong leadership, NAIA named women’s Head Coach Sheri Jennum A.I.I. Coach of the Year. In addition, standout duo Sidney Dobner and Gabriel Munsch were named all-conference athletes.
The forward momentum that kick-started last season picks up as new student-athletes join the ranks, building upon the success of last year.
Four junior college transfers and four freshmen provide fresh talent for the women’s lineup this year and Coach Jennum is excited for the dynamic shift the new group is bringing to the team.
"I’m proud of how supportive the group is and how they’ve come together in such a short amount of time," said Jennum. "They’re doing their best and working hard — they’re giving their best effort on the court, as well as in the classroom."
With last year’s star athlete and All-American Tim Steed now playing professionally in Great Britain, Coach Saia brings in six new players, including five NCAA Division I transfers. To help the Cougars jump to the next level, Saia is concentrating on player skill development.
"We want to build on last year," said Saia. "We want to be the best team that we can be, and focus on improving defensively and offensively. We’re setting high goals and high standards."
CSUSM basketball is looking to build on its foundation, ready once again for the lights of North County’s main stage. As the season heats up, the teams will be pushing themselves to the limit and the inspiring results will be sure to entertain.
"The enthusiasm from the crowd is what pushes the players to even greater heights and fuels the energy and intensity of the games," said Jennum.
Buy Your Tickets Today
Experience the high energy of CSUSM basketball by purchasing season tickets or single game tickets available online at www.csusmcougars.com/tickets.
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