Tag Archives: War Memorial Gym

The USF men and women’s basketball teams posing with Don Francisco and the Spirit Squad. Both teams showcased their skills at the Hilltop HoopSFest on Saturday, which only raised anticipation for the season among fans. (Photo Courtesy of Dons Athletics)

Dons Basketball Players Strut Their Stuff For Fans at Hilltop HoopSFest

University of San Francisco’s basketball program kicked off their season this Saturday at the Hilltop HoopSFest, where Dons fans were able to get a first look at both the men’s and women’s basketball teams. The event included several fun-filled competitions that showed off the talents of the players. HoopSFest began with the introduction of both teams and their respective coaching staffs, and fans were visibly excited to meet both the new and returning Dons as they took to the court.

The first event lined up for the night was a simple game of “around the world.” Players from both teams shot the ball from various places on the court, competing to see who could make each of the required shots first. USF fans saw their team’s talent on display for the first time in this competition. Los Locos, the student spirit organization, got to show off their shooting skills as well, as they were introduced on the court for some shooting around.

Following the game of “around the world,” the players competed in a dribbling competition, a three-point shooting competition, and a dance-off. The women’s team sent out their freshmen players to dance to a series of songs, while the men’s upper-classmen and lower-classmen both participated in separate dances.

The dance-off was not the biggest highlight of the night, however. The dunk contest, a fan favorite, was highly anticipated for its highflying acts and spectacular finishes. The players in the competition were each allowed three dunks, and the winning dunk was determined by the crowd’s reaction. A wide array of dunks were put on display, including a 540-degree dunk by sophomore forward Mark Tollefsen and a reverse alley-oop slam by sophomore guard Tim Derksen.

It was Tollefsen’s final dunk that got the fans up on their feet. Junior guard Matt Glover passed a ball off the standard of the hoop, and Tollefsen caught it, passed it through his legs in midair, and slammed it home in windmill fashion. Tollefsen then dunked the ball from the free-throw line to seal his win and take home the dunk title for the second year in a row. 
The Dons are less than three weeks away from opening their season against Notre Dame De Namur University on Friday, Nov. 8 at War Memorial Gym. While the HoopSFest may have been all fun and games, the Dons’ preparation for the real deal is in full swing, as they attempt to start the season off strong in what is sure to be a grueling, competitive year in the West Coast Conference. Senior point guard Cody Doolin and senior forward Cole Dickerson, both coming off of excellent 2012-13 campaigns, will take on leadership roles on a team with many transfers playing their first year of basketball for the Dons.

Boosted by the experience of their two seniors, USF will look to improve upon last season’s 1516 record, and potentially make an NCAA Tournament appearance for the first time since 1998. This will be no easy task with perennial powerhouses Gonzaga and St. Mary’s as WCC foes, but if the Dons can start the season on a promising note against smaller schools such as Idaho State, Sonoma State, and Vermont, then they will be in good shape when conference play begins on Dec. 28 in Oregon against the University of Portland Pilots.

After Tough Loss to Rivals Santa Clara, Dons Come Back to Sweep Gonzaga

The Dons sprung back from a heartbreaking five set loss last Thursday against Santa Clara to sweep the Gonzaga Bulldogs on Saturday afternoon at War Memorial Gym.

USF (14-11, 5-6 WCC) controlled the entire match against the Bulldogs of Spokane, Wash., winning 25-22, 25-16, 25-17 in three exciting sets.

The first set was the most closely contested, and, other than a early 7-0 run by the Dons, was a back-and-forth battle throughout. The Bulldogs tied the score at 10-10, and again at 22-22 before USF took off on a three-point run for the victory.

Feeding off the momentum of the winning a close first set, the Dons took sets two and three almost effortlessly, completing the sweep of the Bulldogs (9-16, 11-1 WCC).

Freshman outside hitter Ester de Vries led the Dons offensively, with 12 kills on .250 attacking. Following de Vries was sophomore middle block Valentina Zaloznik, junior outside hitter Malina Terrell, and senior outside hitter Jocelyn Levig, each with 10 kills apiece. Terrell chipped in a block and Levig contributed two aces to San Francisco’s offensive effort.

While the offense was clearly a strong point against Gonzaga, Head Coach Gilad Doron attributes the win to the team’s tough defensive play, particularly from redshirt sophomore libero Rebecca Kopilovitch.

“Defensively —21 digs in three games — she (Kopilovitch) just didn’t want any ball to drop, and that is contagious. We have four players in double figures in digs. It starts with the defensive effort and it continues with how we are attacking,” Doron said to usfdons.com. “I think Becky’s effort regardless of the competition is just unbelievable. She’s been rock-solid for us the past few months with her hustle play, with her energy and with the will to just not let any ball get on the floor. It’s definitely great to have her on our side.”

Kopilovitch finished the match with the team lead in digs with 21, followed by senior outside hitter Alycia Cox with 17, senior setter Leanna Ludes with 13 and Levig, who snagged a double-double in kills and digs with 10 of each.

Cox has been challenged with moving positions, and has found success in the back row.

“I’ve been working a lot in practice, working on my footwork, my position, basically just being ready for anything and running it down if I can,” Cox said.

“We have enough talent around us that we can spread that ball better and it’s a function of how well we pass the ball,” Doron said. “If we pass the ball well we can set anyone on any given day.”

The Dons’ defeat of Gonzaga continues a streak of nearly three years in which San Francisco has been victorious against the Bulldogs. USF is not so fortunate to hold a winning streak against rivals Santa Clara, whom they fell to in a very close match last week. But USF will have a chance to redeem themselves in their next match at Santa Clara on Nov. 8.

“We didn’t play as well as we can but….we played hard,” Doron said of the Santa Clara match.

“If each of us individually can do one more good thing, one more support for a teammate, that can really make a difference,” Kopilovitch added.


Several Dons Victorious in 9th Annual Hilltop Cup Boxing Tournament

This past Friday, 32 fighters from 17 different clubs descended upon War Memorial Gym for the 9th Annual Hilltop Cup, the largest amateur boxing tournament in California. Boxers from all corners of the United States turned out to test their mettle in the ring for three furious two-minute rounds. As the host, USF Boxing was well represented with nine fighters donning the Green and Gold on Friday night against challengers from Santa Clara University, Emory University, the University of Hawaii, the University of Maryland, Old School Boxing Club, West Coast Boxing Club and the United States Navy. While USF fighters went 4-5 on the night, the fight of the night belonged to USF’s Nargis Shaghasi and Valeri Lo from the University of Hawaii in the night’s 14th bout.

Shaghasi, fighting out of the red corner, was under duress early as her opponent Lo threw twice as many punches in the first round. Nevertheless, Shaghasi was able to counter and jab her way to a slim lead after the opening round by throwing more disciplined punches than Lo. Continuing her all out assault against Shaghasi, Lo stayed true to her first round performance and pressed early in the second round. After trading blow for blow in the evenly matched bout, Shaghasi gave the crowd what they wanted halfway through the second round, courtesy of a vicious uppercut. The quick, powerful strike sent Lo to the floor and the crowd to their feet, cheering thunderously for the local favorite, who was victorious by knockout.

Shaghasi’s knockout of Lo was the second USF victory by way of K.O. on the night, as Mark Cabreto defended the Hilltop against Ronald Manuel of Santa Clara in the night’s fourth bout by knocking the Bronco to the mat and out of the fight. USF also tallied wins against the University of Maryland and the Old School Boxing Club, as Daniyar Tuyakbayev and Sebastian Doerner, respectfully, won on the judge’s score cards after exchanging blows with their challengers for three grueling rounds.

Friday night also saw one championship contest between defending champ and USF fighter Adrianna Boursalian and Leanna Racine from Emory University in Atlanta. Both fighters drew blood in what was the evenings most closely contested bout , and after four rounds, the judges scorecards were not kind to Boursalian, who lost the fight that, judging by the hail of booing from the crowd, many thought she had won.
The two smallest boxers at the Cup, 11-year-old Adrian Ramos of the 415 Boxing Club and 10-year-old Dante Kirkham of the B St. Boxing Club, sparred to the soundtrack of righteous cheering from the crowd, marveling as the pint sized fighters engaged each other with frightening ferocity in the opening bout. The older, heavier Ramos won by judges decision and had everyone smiling as the big kids stepped into the ring, with the biggest of them fighting in the 10th bout of the night. Weighting in at 193 pounds, Matt Rodriguez, fighting for the home team, touched gloves with Jesse Grano, the 190 pound sailor fighting on behalf of the U.S. Navy. The two amateur heavyweights exchanged deafening blows as gloves met flesh, but after three rounds, Grano had bested Rodriguez.

Along with being an excellent exhibition of amateur and collegiate boxing, Hilltop Cup IX had a charitable aspect to it. Proceeds from the event went to help the West Bay Filipino Multi-Service Center, a San Francisco based non-profit helping ethnic minorities with health care, education and day care. With over 1,000 attendees, Hilltop Cup IX was an overwhelming success for all parties, no matter which corner they stood in.

Inside USF Men’s Basketball Perris Blackwell Prepares for the Hilltop Challenge

Perris Blackwell was waiting shyly in the corner under the basket, waiting for some member of the press to be in his face about questions that are too often overdone and repetitive.

Like a boy separated from his mother in the grocery store, Blackwell looked around unsure of what to do or what he should be ready for.

Holding a basketball in one hand, Blackwell took a step out onto the court and began to bounce the ball off the back board into the net.

He was upset. Rex Walters, Head Coach of USF’s Mens Basketball team, had just chewed him out not fifteen minutes ago during the team’s screening of game film for not rebounding and making enough plays.

It was unusual for Blackwell to be in a bad mood. Normally, Blackwell was light-hearted, full of hopes and big dreams, and even somewhat goofy, but always honest and a hard-worker. Simply, nothing more than a BIG joyful kid, as the only other thing he really enjoyed other than basketball were comics and cartoons.

Whatever Walters told Blackwell had put the 6’ 9” inch and 240-pound forward into a funk.

Blackwell practically lived the game of basketball. It was what he knew and all he ever cared to know. He dreamt, like all other young basketball players, of someday being an NBA player. But the fame and publicity didn’t matter. All that mattered was playing the game and winning.

He fit well into Walters’ system that demanded team-oriented players with no room for big egos and prima donnas. Every player was equal and shared in the commitment and work it took to win.

All week long preparing for USF’s opening night, Head Coach Walters appeared to be in a maddening mood. His yelling throughout practice “we give up no lay-ups” was impossible to miss as he shouted it red in the face more than a thousand times.

Blackwell plodded along, up and down the court trying to keep the opposition out of the paint, while also keeping up with his speedy offense that was outfitted with the likes of Michael Williams, Avery Johnson and Cody Doolin.

As one of USF’s biggest and most physical players on the team, Blackwell’s job was obvious: defend the key on defense, occupy the key on offense, box out the opposition, and rebound the ball.

Though the jobs orders were simple, execution of those orders would not be so easy. For an athlete, especially a basketball player, Blackwell had always been slightly clumsy from the time he was a kid. His large build allowed him to bully other players around on the court and makes him a weapon in the post. But his size and weight often slowed him down and made it difficult for him to maintain hang time whilst air born.

Blackwell transitioned like Shaq and rebounded rarely. While the rest of USF’s game would be pushing harder and harder forward to put pressure on the opposition, Blackwell would always be a few strides behind. And when the ball went up, Blackwell would often be looking the wrong way, not at all present in the area of the key, or shorter than the next guys reach.

During practice, Head Coach Walters addressed the issue and worked the transition and rebound game for the entire week.

The opening game of the season arrived with an excited crowd of students. The game was well publicized and received a warm reception from the underclassmen students that inhabited the dorms, mostly excited for their first college basketball game.

The Dons were hosting the 2011 Hilltop Challenge dubbed the “Opening Act” as it was the first basketball game of the season as well as the first game for Athletic Director Scott Sidwell. The Dons would tip off against North Dakota State in the first game of the tournament that also included Northern Arizona University and University of Louisiana Lafayette.

Blackwell paced the Dons against North Dakota putting up a career and game high 23 points.

New Features on Campus Benefit Students

At the beginning of this school year, we found new features and upgrades around campus that were not around last semester. The features added to USF make campus a pleasant place.  USF is trying to improve campus life at a time when other schools are cutting budgets and increasing tuition do to a poor economic climate. We know there are others not mentioned in our list, but these are the ones that stand out as the best.

1. New Hand Sanitizers

When students walk into the cafeteria, Kalmanovitz Hall, or other areas around campus, they can keep their hands clean with the new automatic hand sanitizing dispensers containing Purell, a trusted brand of hand sanitizer. With the Swine Flu scare, having an easy way to keep  hands clean will help prevent students from passing germs and acquiring illnesses, which is easy to do at a university. Some of the hand sanitizers have run out of Purell or are not working, but the idea is perfect for busy students running around campus on their way to class to feel clean. Washing hands is the best option, the hand sanitizers are a good alternative and can keep campus a cleaner and healthier place.

2. Kalmanovitz Connection to Cowell

When venturing around the on campus maze known as Kalmanovitz Hall, there is now another way to get lost when trying to get the annex. When entering Cowell, there is new flooring and a desk, along with a connection to the K-Hall entrance way.  There you can find an elevator leading to the second floor of Cowell or higher floors of K-Hall. It is confusing when you think you are taking the elevator to the second floor of K-Hall and you end up near the Learning and Writing Center of Cowell,  but it is more convenient for students instead of having to leave K-Hall and walk around to the entrance of Cowell. Also, a lot of students who have classes in K-Hall also have classes in Cowell and vice versa. This allows an easy transition from building to building.

3. War Memorial Gym

At the end of the 2009 Spring Semester, the gym was being completely torn up for a new floor. Now that the construction in War Memorial is almost finished,  there is new flooring with the new graphics. The basketball hoops have been redesigned and are no longer hanging from the upper deck of the gym. They are mobile and can be easily be moved for the Volleyball games so the teams can play without worrying about hitting the hoop. The wooden bleachers in the upper deck have been upgraded to more comfortable and sturdy plastic bleachers, which bare the USF green and gold colors. There is also a new glass barrier wall in front of the bleachers. The only thing that is missing is the old San Francisco city skyline that used to be on the gym’s floor. It was a unique aspect of our gym and it is definitely missed.

4. Café Outtahere

The new Café Outtahere gives students a new on-campus meal choice. The food in the main cafeteria gets old quickly, so it’s nice to have the option to liven up your diet in the middle of the week. However, the smoothies don’t live up to those served by Jamba Juice, which stood in the location previous to Outtahere.  The organic food is a positive aspect for students who want to eat healthier and the hours of Outtahere are great. Students usually complain that the cafeteria closes too early, but they now can go to Outtahere for some late night breakfast. But the food left out, like the pre-made breakfast sandwiches, are sometimes left out too long and taste stale or as if it came out of the microwave. Making the sandwiches made to order would make them a more popular item.

5. Improved Phoenix Above the U.C.

One subtle improvement that was made over the summer was the “be-dazzled” Phoenix, which can be seen in Harney Plaza. Previously,  the Phoenix was not very noticeable. Now its glittery green and gold highlights are hard to miss. After visual arts professor Father Tom Lucas enlisted a group of students to decorate this symbol of hope and rebirth, the Phoenix is now a prominent figure when walking through campus. The green and gold squares add a positive emphasis to an aspect of USF’s architecture that was being overlooked.

Other improvements on campus such as the new quiet areas in the library and new food stations that are offered at certain times in the cafeteria are worthy of an honorable mention, but these five are the ones that stand out and have improved campus life the most. Take advantage of the new aspects that are now on campus. Students at other universities are not getting the same upgrades, and we should appreciate them by maximizing their use.