Team preview: San Diego

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(Information in this team report is as of October 1.)

San Diego coach Brad Holland's worst fear is that his team's entire season rests on a wobbly ankle.

The Toreros have some experience back, including a couple of double-digit scorers and the West Coast Conference's most accurate shooter in 2005-06. But
a player who last season averaged just 5.1 points
and 2.0 rebounds could be the key to San Diego's success this year.

Guard Ray Murdock, a 6-3 sophomore Holland called "the hardest worker on the team" and a big player in Holland's three-guard lineup, is battling a potentially serious ankle injury that could end his season before it begins.

How serious? Well, much to Holland's horror, Murdock's injury has been compared to the one that virtually destroyed the career of NBA star Grant Hill.

"I hated to hear his name come up," Holland said. "I guess it's a fairly serious ankle injury, and if Ray were to require surgery, he would be out for a while. We're holding out hope that is not the case."

Holland said Murdock's ankle will be immobilized to see if an extended rest will correct the problem, but there is no guarantee it will work.

With Murdock, the Toreros' backcourt trio is solid. Without him, Holland isn't even sure what his lineup will look like.

"I haven't thought that through, and I don't want to, because I'm not ready for Ray not to be with us," he said. "We might go to four guards, I don't know. I'm not sure how we'll do that. But we'll have to adjust a lot, not having Ray Murdock.

"We're not thinking in those terms. We're thinking positively that this will do the trick, letting it heal up and avoiding surgery. I don't want to be too negative, but I am concerned."

Murdock's importance to the Toreros is difficult to quantify. Holland loves his versatility, his ability to defend, his aggressiveness and his work ethic. Take all that out of the rotation and the resulting void would be very difficult to fill.

"He's a very important player, and, frankly, without him I don't know how good we can be," Holland said. "With Ray Murdock, we're a much more substantial team. I think that much of Ray and his game. This could be a big blow for us if he's not able to come back and play."