The University of San Diego’s men’s and women’s basketball teams marked a watershed season by both advancing to the NCAA Tournament for the first time in the same year.

It was also the year USD’s men booked the first extended stay in the dance by a San Diego men’s college basketball team — only San Diego State’s women had previously won an NCAA Tournament game — with Friday’s first-round upset of Connecticut.

So what’s next for San Diego college basketball?

Well, don’t be surprised if all four San Diego college teams earn NCAA trips next year.

USD’s men return every player on the roster and USD coach Bill Grier has begun addressing the roster’s lack of size by adding a 6-foot-7 junior college transfer, Luciano de Souza from South Plains Community College in Texas.

USD’s women lose senior point guard Amanda Rego from the starting lineup, and she’s a big loss as a two-time All-West Conference Conference pick and the team’s unquestioned leader.

USD administrator Stephanie Reighley watches on anxiously as the Toreros try, but fail, to make a comeback against Western Kentucky in the NCAA Mens’ Basketball Tournament.

But freshman Brianna Estell showed promise at point guard coach Cindy Fisher has a commitment from La Jolla Country Day guard Dominique Conners, the All-CIF Player of the Year for the San Diego Section’s top-ranked team and a state Division IV runner-up. Conners can play point or off guard.

San Diego State’s men might have made the NCAA Tournament this year, but impressive freshman forward Tim Shelton was lost to an injury and coach Steve Fisher, admirably, stuck to his principles by suspending two starters.

Jerome Habel was booted off the team before the season started and Kyle Spain suspended at midseason. Otherwise, similar to USD, the Aztecs return nearly intact. Only backup guard Matt Thomas graduates.

SDSU’s women almost punched a ticket to the NCAA with an automatic berth, but the Aztecs came up short of New Mexico in the Mountain West Conference tournament final before falling 62-59.

The Aztecs lose one starter in guard Shannon Demus and one key reserve in Shannon Clay, but the future of this team returns with plenty of eligibility.

Sophomore guards Jene Morris and Quenese Davis are back along with 6-4 true freshman Paris Johnson of San Diego High and 6-2 redshirt freshman Allison Duffy of El Capitan High.

Coach Beth Burns’ team also gains UCLA transfer Jerica Williams, a guard from Mount Miguel High that will be eligible next year after sitting out the season.

Four teams with four coaches with experience taking to the NCAA tournament. It’s all about putting the proper resources into programs.

Ah, next year’s City Championship games might only be the beginning of a special season.


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