With a new coaching staff, the Kingsmen basketball team is ready to kick this season into high gear.
“I’m just excited to get back out there,” shooting guard Kyle Ferreira said. “It’s been a long layover with all the new coaching, so I think we’re just excited to get going, to start playing, and to get the season started.”
Tim Fusina stepped in as head coach back in June of this year, while AJ Uhl will also lead the team as assistant coach alongside Fusina.
“Our goal is to make sure that we progress every day, whether it be a small step or a very large step, everyday is always moving forward in the right direction,” Fusina said. “How many wins that amounts to? I don’t know. But I think that we have the talent, [and] if we continue to progress, we will have a very good year.”
After the title of Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference champions slipped through the Kingemen’s fingers by six points in spring of 2017, the new coaching staff might be the final push the men’s basketball team needs.
“New coach, new plays,” point guard Caleb Richey said, “I think all of our team needs to adjust to all the plays [Fusina] wants to run, and I believe that with our returners coming back, we can accomplish that.”
After a four-year run as head coach at Centenary University in New Jersey, Fusina joins California Lutheran University with high standards.
“The opportunity to win at a high level and win a national championship here, I think that’s very possible with our program,” Fusina said. “With the facilities, the campus, the type of academics we have, it’s a place that I was attracted to because I think you can win at a high level here.”
And with this new mindset, the team is focusing on defense and studying videos of practices in order to limit the opposition’s opportunity to score and improve Cal Lutheran’s game.
“When there’s a new coach nothing is guaranteed, so you know everything is earned, you have to earn your playing time, you have to earn your starting role, you have to earn your everything,” Ferreira said. “Everything is different. You are constantly adapting to new drills, new practice times, new people talking to you, new plays, new defenses. Just a lot of change but it’s a good change.”
But all this change has the potential to hurt a team, and it is a foreseeable challenge that Fusina anticipates.
“There’s going to be some days where it doesn’t look great, and there’s going to be some days where it looks like we don’t know what we’re doing,” Fusina said. “But there are some days that as we move forward, as we progress, and we make progress every day, I think we will be pretty good.”
With seven veteran athletes and nine new ones on the roster, the men practiced on their own up until October 15 when coached practices officially began.
“We are looking pretty good; I’m very excited to get the season rolling,” Richey said. “We have seven returners, all seven are very skilled players, very mature guys, and that will translate on the basketball court.”
But Fusina focuses on more than just basketball with his team. He said he was drawn to division three because of the idea that passion for sport can be adapted to life.
“I’ve always been a Division III coach,” Fusina said. “So I think it’s a good place to be involved with your students not just on the court, but also helping them plan out their lives, helping them academically, and making sure that they have all the tools necessary when they leave here to be a success in life.”