Toreros basketball team leans on senior leadership for early season success

SAN DIEGO -- After coming off their most successful season in the last decade, the Toreros basketball team set high expectations this year and have experience working in their favor.

Some believe that nothing adds more value than experience and the University of San Diego Toreros have shown that. With four senior starters, they have jumped out to the second best start in school history, winning nine of their first 12 games.

"It's been big -- to have four or five guys on the court who've played over 60 games in their careers is a big aspect that we've really taken advantage of this year," said senior guard Olin Carter III.

Carter III, Isaiah Wright, Tyler Williams and Isaiah Pineiro lead the Toreros in points, three-pointers, assists and steals.

"What we haven't had to do one day is coach energy or competitiveness in practice and that's quite a luxury and that's because of those guys," said head coach Sam Scholl. "They bring it everyday and everybody follows."

As a result, the Toreros are undefeated at home and continue to play well against tough opponents on the road.

"We've scheduled tough teams this year and we've played about how we expected us to do and so our confidence is on the rise," said senior forward Pineiro.

The Toreros begin conference play in just a few short weeks and say the experience from playing non-conference teams like SDSU, Washington and Oregon were good early tests for the team.

"I mean we've learned a lot from those games that we've played in against those power 5 type schools," said Scholl. "Certainly learned a lot from those games we came up short. We've had the opportunity to play against some very talented players, some really good coaches so I think that's all going to help us grow in a lot of ways when we get to what's going to be a very challenging WCC schedule."

For the seniors, they agree the Toreros early success starts at the top with first-year head coach and USD alum, Scholl.

"He's one of the greatest guys I've ever been around," said Carter III. "He's a fun person to be around, he always brings energy to the group and he's a family man. You know he makes it a family culture in the locker room and it's just a fun environment to be around."

"That was our No. 1 goal when we started this whole thing out in April, is that we wanted to be the most connected team each time we played and nobody played for each other better than we did and so far, we've been able to accomplish that and it's a lot of fun to see our guys really truly enjoy each other's success," said Scholl.

"These guys are my best friends so everyday when we're together it's fun," said Pineiro. "We're laughing in practice, in film, in the weight room and so it makes it easy coming out here and playing hard."

And playing hard with plenty of heart is a tough combination to stop.

The Toreros' next game is Saturday in Las Vegas against Washington State.

USD will play their next home game December 29 against Grand Canyon.

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