Cal State San Bernardino men's basketball coach Jeff Oliver will take a small victory. So he isn't necessarily concerned with a win or a loss as his team squares off with Grand Canyon (3-4) at 3 p.m. today in the CCAA-Pac West Showdown at Valley High School in Las Vegas.
He has been most disappointed with his team's lack of focus and intensity that is evidenced by the Coyotes' 2-4 record.
"I'm looking for some sort of fight," he said. "I want to see that they actually care about what they're doing. That they have a pulse. If I get that, I'll be happy."
Oliver has shuffled his lineup to try and remedy the situation.
Help has arrived in the form of 6-foot-7 junior forward Brandon Brown, who became eligible when the fall quarter ended last week. When Oliver signed the New Orleans native, he said he had the potential to be the best player the program has produced.
His arrival can't hurt. The Coyotes frontcourt comes in averaging just 8.1 points a game. The team is also averaging more turnovers (18) than assists (11) and is last in the conference in rebounding.
The other notable addition will be that of junior guard Michael Lucas, a walk-on from Riverside Community College who has played just three minutes in the previous six games.
"He's the one guy we have who plays hard. He should have been playing more all along and that's on me. That's my coaching blunder," he said.
Brown and Lucas will be joined in the starting lineup by senior point guard Tim Denson (10 points per game, 2.2 assists per game), junior guard Lawrence Tyson (6.3 ppg) and senior guard DuBois Williams (10.7 ppg, 4.3 rebounds per game, 2.2 apg). That means Devin Montgomery (18.8 ppg), the CCAA's second-leading scorer, will be coming off the bench.
Oliver will be a bit short-handed, as junior Larry DeHughes will miss his third straight game with an ankle injury. The Coyotes are also still without senior forward Devon Davis, who has yet to play because of a back injury and might need to be redshirted.
The Coyotes wrap up the event on Sunday, taking on San Francisco Academy of the Arts at 2 p.m. The Urban Knights just moved to NCAA Division II and are a provisional member of the Pacific West Conference.
This will be the last pair of nonconfernce games before the Coyotes resume conference play Jan. 2-3 back at Coussoulis Arena.
"The situation can be fixed. But we need to see something positive this weekend," Oliver said. "These two games will say a lot about our character and whether or not we're going to be a factor in the long run."