The biggest loser: What happened to SUU's men's basketball program and how it will try to bounce back
Some of SUU’s struggles came well before this season began. Utah’s Dallin Bachynski, USU’s Kyle Davis and St. Mary’s Matthew Hodgson all transferred from the T-Birds before Robinson took over the helm in March 2012.
Bachynski and Davis each played one season under then-head coach Roger Reid before going on LDS missions and transferring. Each has contributed greatly to their respective programs this season. Hodgson still holds SUU’s season shot-blocking record that he set his freshman year, but left after his sophomore year for St. Mary’s after a falling out with the program.
“(SUU) would be a lot different,” Pomeroy said. “They’d be probably closer to a top-conference basketball team you’d have to think they’d be at least an average Big Sky team with those three guys in the lineup.”
Other issues have come from the team’s schedule.
The T-Birds played a difficult non-conference schedule, which included trips to San Diego State, California and Utah State, as well as hosting UNLV in December, which Robinson scheduled to “expose” young players to tough environments.
Whatever the issue has been, it’s added up to a nightmare of a season.
One bad season
SUU is dead last in the Big Sky in shooting percentage, points, rebounding and turnover margin with just a handful of games remaining on the season.
Those are the largest components to Pomeroy’s ranking system.
“I haven’t looked around, but I’d be pretty surprised if there’s another team in the country that’s last in all four of those categories in their conference,” Pomeroy said. “Usually a team does something kind of well. They might be bad at three things and do one thing OK, but SUU has been kind of a failure in every aspect of trying to score the basketball.”
With all statistics combined, Pomeroy has SUU dead last in his rankings.
“They’re probably not in any sort of immortality in terms of being one of the worst teams ever,” Pomeroy said. “They’ve had a few close games this season. They had that near miss at Montana State and Portland State, so that immediately puts them on more solid ground than a lot of teams in the past, but clearly offensively they’ve been pretty poor.”
There have been bright spots and silver linings for the T-Birds during the season, however.
Senior forward Jaren Jeffery has shot 51 percent from the floor during the season and dropped a career-best 21 points on Feb. 10. Robinson said Jeffery has been a vocal leader helping the youthful T-Birds adjust to the college ranks as well.
SUU has also gotten 20-plus point contributions from freshman guard Trey Kennedy on a couple of occasions. Kennedy leads the team averaging almost 10 points per game.
The T-Birds have also come close to snapping their losing streak on several occasions as the year winds down.
On Thursday night, SUU led Portland State heading into the final minute of play before falling 86-79.
SUU has averaged an 8.3-point deficit in its last nine games, with games coming down to the final minutes seven of those nine. It’s an improvement for the T-Birds, which had been losing by an average of 20 points prior to that.
Robinson said he believes it’s only a matter of time until SUU snaps its ugly losing streak once and for all.
“I think individually and collectively our team — in that time — started to come together and gain some confidence defensively and offensively,” he said. “We were able to fight quite a bit more over the past 10 games. A lot of credit goes to our guys, just in terms of fight and willingness to improve as the season has progressed.”
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