SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO)- The USF men’s basketball team lost three starters from a year ago including their leading scorers in Trevon Evans and Drew Guebert. This season, the Cougars will need to find a way to fill the gaps that last season’s seven seniors left behind.
“Everything is new. Even the returners are in new roles. We’ve got a lot of new guys. We have to play differently, quite honestly we can’t play the way we did last year when we had Drew and Tre on the offensive end. Everything is new, but that also makes it fun. If you do this long enough, I’m in my 20-something year doing this, and it’s fun to get in with a group at the ground level and start building, and that’s kind of where we’re at right now,” USF men’s basketball coach Chris Johnson said.
The Cougars were led by Evans and Guebert who combined for nearly 42 points per game last season. This season, USF will turn to some different players to lead the team.
“Troy Houghton is a player who is poised to have a really good year and a really good career. He probably got stuck behind Trey (Trevon Evans) a little bit, and that will happen and I expect him to do some really good things. He’s our best defender and he can really get to the rim. He’s a really athletic kid,” Johnson said.
This season’s team will have a different identity than past USF squads. The Cougars have changed their focus to defense as they look to improve on the 72 points per game that USF allowed last season.
“Rebounding and defense, and I don’t know if defense is yet, but it’s going to have to be. We led the country in rebounding last year and I think we can match that, I don’t know if we’ll lead it, but we’ll have to be good on the glass,” Johnson said.
“That’s how we are going to win games through out the year. The defensive end of the floor, we’re going to have to string stops together, keep teams below seventy and sixty points and we’re going to have to be one of the best teams in rebounding in the country again,” USF senior forward Devin Green said.
The Cougars graduated seven seniors a year ago. Now, USF will look to their two seniors this season.
“Devin Green was our leader last year, and he has been since he got on campus darn near, maybe not as a freshman. He’s always been our vocal leader, kind of our heart beat even with Drew and Trey (Trevon) and all those other guys. Leadership is not going to be an issue with him and Milan (Surlic). That has probably been a real bright spot for us this fall,” Johnson said.
The Cougars will begin the 2019 season with five non-conference games, which will be important to the team and their development.
“I’m not really worried about the results. I’m worried about are we getting better, are we starting to fix some of the problems that we’re having, because I really don’t know what to expect. I know what has happened in practice and I know what our rotation is going to be going into our first game. It rarely works out like that for a whole year,” Johnson said.
The Cougars open the 2019 season with the NSIC vs. MIAA challenge in Kansas City. USF will open the challenge against Lincoln University on Friday at 6:45.