Like the steep incline at Lone Mountain that I would ascend and descend every Tuesday and Thursday for Chinese class during my freshman and sophomore years at my beloved University of San Francisco, Dons basketball has been up and down over the last several years. Fond memories of Tyrone Riley, Jerome Gumbs and John Cox taking out Gonzaga in 2005 being undoubtedly one of the biggest highs, and that whole Eddie Sutton thing in 2007 being arguably the low.
Ah, but that’s all water under the bridge. The Dons are poised for better and more consistent days — or so we thought — after the team finished up strong last season, going 19-15. Bringing back a good core of young players, the Dons looked ready to make a leap until… wait for it… another down: Six outgoing transfers, including two starters. Ouch.
Remember, though: It’s San Francisco, man. We got plenty of hills. So when it was announced that former Chinese youth national team center, Xu Tao, was signing on at The Hilltop… we started getting on another high. We got excited. And we’re still excited.
Heck, now we’re even more excited after the big seven-footers debut against Stanford: Seven points, four boards in 13 minutes. Four fouls be damned.
The Dons lost, but it’s about the long term… and about Xu who looks like he’s going to be a player in the WCC this year and in years to come. Which means, besides revisiting my exploits as a three-time USF intramural basketball champion (consecutive, I may add), there’s now actually a good reason to write up on the Dons this season.