<
>

Preview: Sacramento State Hornets

Brian Katz has Sacramento State headed in the right direction. Douglas C. Pizac/USA TODAY Sports

Sacramento State Hornets

2012-13: 14-15 (8-12)
In-conference offense: 1.00 points per possession (8th)
In-conference defense: 1.04 points per possession (6th)

Sacramento State has not had a winning season since 1988-89. During the 1990s, the Hornets recorded an eight-year stretch where they had a winning percentage of just .131. So the fact that Brian Katz has an excellent chance to take his team to the 2014 Big Sky tournament is a big deal.

Projected starting lineup

The strength of the team lies in the backcourt with junior guard Dylan Garrity, who led the Big Sky in assists per game in each of his first two seasons. He showcased an improved overall offensive game last season as well, with a true shooting percentage of 60.4 percent, scoring an efficient 11.6 PPG. Garrity has the tools to be an all-conference performer.

He's flanked by junior Mikh McKinney, who has the ability to create his own shot but needs to improve on his 40 percent shooting.

The key to Sac State's success will be in the frontcourt, where Katz is down three starters. All of those starting spots seem to be wide open, but freshman Eric Stuteville looks like he'll be an excellent player right away. He averaged 21.7 PPG and 12.3 RPG as a high school senior, showcasing a versatile offensive game and good touch. For the Hornets, breaking the long string of losing records and making the conference tournament is very achievable, but they could really use a breakthrough from among the bigs.

Projected 2013-14 conference finish: 7th