COMPLETE WEEKLY PREVIEW (pdf)
SAN LUIS OBISPO – The Cal Poly men's basketball program opens the 2018-19 regular season and its 25th year of Division I action when hosting NAIA Menlo College inside Mott Athletics Center on Wednesday, Nov. 7 (7 p.m.). The Mustangs then begin a seven-game road trip at defending Pac-12 Conference champion Arizona on Sunday, Nov. 11 (2 p.m. PT/3 p.m. MT). Sunday's matchup versus Arizona will be televised on Pac-12 Networks for Cal Poly, which returns three starters and six letterwinners from last season's squad. Seeking its first victory in a season opener in seven years, Cal Poly is also starting the season at home for the first time since defeating San Jose State, 79-52 (Nov. 12, 2011). Having began its season on Nov. 30, Menlo (1-2) earned its first win of the year by edging Simpson College, 75-73 (Nov. 3). Arizona, the first of three Pac-12 opponents on Cal Poly's 2018-19 schedule, received 14 votes in the preseason edition of the AP Top 25 poll to finish 151 points behind No. 25 Washington. Arizona defeated Western New Mexico, 95-44 (Oct. 30), and Chaminade, 75-64 (Nov. 4), in its two exhibitions. The Wildcats open their season on Wednesday versus Houston Baptist.
FOLOW CAL POLY THIS WEEK: Chris Sylvester will have the play-by-play call of Wednesday's season opener versus Menlo College and Sunday's matchup at Arizona for ESPN 1280 in San Luis Obispo County and via GoPoly.com HERE … live stats and streaming video of Wednesday's matchup versus Menlo will be available for GoPoly.com HERE … in addition to Sunday's game being televised nationally on Pac-12 Networks, live stats and streaming video from Arizona will also be available via GoPoly.com HERE.
CAL POLY VERSUS MENLO COLLEGE AND NON-DIVISION I OPPOSITION: The Mustangs hold a 6-0 all-time series advantage versus Menlo since the first meeting between the two sides on Jan. 11, 1995 – a 62-59 victory that doubled as Cal Poly's first win as a Division I program. Since transitioning to the Division I level prior to the 1994-95 season, Cal Poly is 38-1 against non-Division I programs and 13-1 in similar games under ninth-year head coach Joe Callero.
CAL POLY VERSUS ARIZONA: The Mustangs make their return to the McKale Center for the first time since dropping a 73-62, season-opening decision (Nov. 8, 2013) to the Wildcats in a matchup that featured five future NBA players (Cal Poly's David Nwaba and Arizona's Aaron Gordon, T.J. McConnell, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and Nick Johnson). Cal Poly's only other meetings with Arizona were road losses on Dec. 13, 1949 (63-53) and Dec. 17, 1957 (66-65).
CAL POLY IN SEASON OPENERS: Cal Poly is 2-7 in season opening matchups under 10th-year head coach Joe Callero and has not won a season opener since defeating San Jose State (79-52) at home in 2011. Cal Poly fell in last year's opener at Stanford (78-62) and dropped the 2016 opener at Pepperdine (77-68), the 2015 opener at UNLV (74-72), the 2014 opener at Nevada (65-49), the 2013 opener at No. 5 Arizona (73-62) and its 2012 opener at TCU (53-46). Cal Poly's other opening-day win under Callero was a 76-60 decision at Seattle in 2010. Overall, Cal Poly is 9-15 in season opening games at the Division I level.
CAL POLY CLIFFSNOTES, A PERSONNEL PROFILE: Cal Poly's returning unit is comprised of 5-10 senior guard Donovan Fields, 6-10 junior forward Hank Hollingsworth and 6-5 sophomore wing Mark Crowe. An All-Big West honorable mention selection last season after finishing third among Division I players with a program-record 92.6 (75-for-81) percent free throw mark, Fields was also second in Cal Poly's lineup with 13.0 points per game. A starter in 30 of 31 games last season, Fields recorded 21 double-digit scoring games and finished third among Big West players with 4.1 assists per night. He enters his final season as the top free throw shooter in program history at 89.6 percent and needs just 248 more points to become the 24th player in program history to score at least 1,000 in a career. In the post, Hollingsworth finished 76th among Division I players last season with 1.68 blocks per game. A 63.1 percent shooter last year, Hollingsworth ranks fourth in program history with 81 blocks and requires just 56 more to set a new record. Crowe, meanwhile, made 15 starts in his first season last year … Cal Poly's remaining returning letterwinners include 6-7 senior forward Kuba Niziol, 6-4 senior guard Marcellus Garrick and 6-9 sophomore forward Karlis Garoza. Niziol, who scored in double digits eight times last year, finished fifth in Cal Poly's lineup with 7.2 points per game. Garrick added a further six double-digit scoring games to finish behind Niziol at 6.5 points per contest. Garoza made 20 reserve appearances in his first season for Cal Poly last year … making his debut in Cal Poly's lineup will be 5-10 freshman guard Jared Rice, who redshirted during his first season on campus last year … during the offseason, Cal Poly added 6-4 junior guard Job Alexander as a transfer from two-year Trinidad State (Trinidad, Colo.) and signed to National Letters of Intent 6-10 forward Tuuka Jaakkola (Helsinki, Finland / Helsinki Basketball Academy), 6-7 forward Daxton Carr (Pocatello, Idaho / Highland HS) and 6-3 guard Junior Ballard (Stockton, Calif. / Modesto Christian School). The program also added 6-6 freshman forward Kyle Colvin (San Luis Obispo, Calif. / Mission Prep HS) and 6-3 freshman guard Colin McCarthy (Redwood City, Calif. / Serra HS) … also joining Cal Poly's lineup in the offseason as Division I transfers are 6-0 junior point guard Keith Smith (VMI) and 6-7 junior forward Nolan Taylor (Pepperdine), both of whom will redshirt the upcoming year.
CAL POLY'S QUALITY CONTROL: No Division I program has committed fewer turnovers per game since the beginning of the 2012-13 season than Cal Poly, which has averaged just 9.96 turnovers per 187 matchups (1,864 turnovers total). Cal Poly, which finished 76th among Division I programs last season with 11.8 turnovers per game, has led the Big West in fewest turnovers per game in five of the last six years.
LOOKING AHEAD (NOV. 12-18): Cal Poly's seven-game road trip continues on Friday, Nov. 16 versus Sacramento State at 6 p.m. The two programs have traded victories in each of the previous nine matchups with Cal Poly winning the last meeting at home on Nov. 30, 2011 (77-51). The Hornets open their regular season versus NAIA Simpson College on Friday, Nov. 9.