By Jerry Briggs
Special for The JB Replay
UTSA basketball players like to gather in the early-morning hours for extra work in the gym. Just about the time the sun rises, the Roadrunners hit the floor for individual drills. Forward Chandler Cuthrell confirmed that coaches sometimes refer to this group as “The Breakfast Club.”
“Certain days of the week, I’ll be here for Breakfast Club,” Cuthrell said. “(But) I’m more like a night person. I like to be here, like, at 1-2 in the morning. It’s weird timing with me. But I like to be here (late), when I’m here by myself. Nobody else in the gym. I can just work on whatever I need to work on. Get me some shots in. Free throws. Stuff like that.”
For Cuthrell, the routine seems to be working out just fine. After two exhibition games, he’s parlayed his nocturnal spirit and his love for the practice grind into two solid performances, both of them double-doubles off the bench.
Last week, the transfer from Odessa College had 10 points and 11 rebounds against Trinity. On Monday night, in UTSA’s preseason finale, the 6-foot-8 forward from Baltimore hiked his production, going for 13 points and 11 boards as the Roadrunners routed the outmanned and under-sized McMurry University War Hawks, 125-84.
“I feel like I played well,” he said of his two performances. “I got a lot of room for improvement. I just got to keep working on being ready. Always staying ready when my number and my name is called, so I can help my team win.
“I want to continue to rebound, which is my main focus. Like, I don’t think about how many points I’m going to get. I think about … rebounds. I try to help my team get more offensive possessions.” So far, so good. Cuthrell (pronounced Cue-trul) grabbed five rebounds off the offensive glass in each exhibition.
Regular-season opener, Western Illinois at UTSA, Monday, 7 p.m.
UTSA completed its two-game exhibition schedule against non-scholarship, Division III competition with a 100-70 victory over Trinity and a 125-84 win over McMurry. The Roadrunners shot 55.1 percent from the field against the War Hawks, including 65.1 percent in the first half when they raced to a 69-38 lead. In shooting the ball so well, they did it with a flair, passing for assists on 27 of the team’s 49 field goals. Playing off the bench, Christian Tucker hit seven of nine from the field and led eight players in double figures with 16 points. Tucker wasn’t the only spark among the reserves. Nazar Mahmoud scored 15, Cuthrell had 13, Isaiah Wyatt 12 and Massal Diouf 10.
Among the starters, Adante’ Holiman and Dre Fuller Jr. scored 14, with Fuller adding 10 rebounds. Trey Edmonds had 12 points and eight boards. Starting the game were Carlton Linguard Jr. (12 rebounds), Edmonds, Fuller, Holiman and P.J. Carter. Holiman showed off his distance shooting touch late in the first half, scoring six points in 16 seconds. First, he knocked down a long one at the top with 3:06 on the clock and then another at 2:50. Cuthrell threw down a two-handed dunk just before intermission, rebounding a miss by Holiman and then forcefully snapping the rim and shaking the backboard.
“A lot of positives we can take from that one and continue to build on,” UTSA coach Steve Henson said. “I keep thinking about the game, as it goes on, just so many good unselfish plays were made by so many different people. You know, we really kicked it out of the post extremely well.
Continued Henson, ” … (We had) willing passers. Assist numbers were high. I thought we pushed it in transition better … Defensively, had some trouble guarding the dribble. That’s an important part of the game. We got to make some progress in that regard.”
“I thought we played pretty well the first 10 minutes or so,” McMurry coach Zach Pickelman said. “We obviously want to get out and run and try to score a lot of points. To do that against a Division I program was good to see. Obviously, UTSA is a lot bigger than us, and I think that wore on us as the game went on. We struggled to keep them in front of us. We struggled to keep them off the boards. But I think it was a good experience for our guys as we move forward into our season.”
UTSA guard Adante’ Holiman, on the Roadrunners’ unselfish nature at this juncture of the preseason training camp: “I think we as a team really value getting each other the basketball in the right spots. Just, we believe in each other.” Holiman received birthday greetings (for his 20th) earlier in the day. Apparently, there wouldn’t be much of a celebration. He said he had to go and complete an exam as soon as he left the arena.
McMurry had two players from San Antonio, including Josh Alcocer, a 6-8 junior from O’Connor High School, and Tristan Holden, a 6-7 freshman from Taft. Alcocer started and finished with five points and one rebound in 14 minutes. Holden had eight points and four rebounds in 17 minutes off the bench.