The UC San Diego men's basketball team comes home this week looking to turn things around after a pair of tough losses to Cal State L.A. and Cal State Dominguez Hills over the weekend. The Tritons will host Chico State in their CCAA home opener Thursday night at 7:30 p.m. in what will be just their second appearance of the season at RIMAC Arena. UCSD has struggled in the early going this season -- posting a 2-6 overall record and a 1-4 mark in conference play -- but head coach Chris Carlson's squad has been making strides as of late and the Tritons will play four straight at home over the next two weeks. Senior guard Tyler Acevedo has been a bright spot so far in 2009-10, taking his game to the next level as a starter for the first time in his career. He enters competition this week second on the team in scoring at 8.8 points per game and is also UCSD's top three-point threat, with a team-leading 13 treys through eight games. The Agoura Hills, Calif. native took a moment to answer a few questions for UCSDtritons.com recently and his responses are listed below.
Q: As one of only two seniors on a team that features 14 underclassmen, how has your role changed in 2009-10 from previous seasons?
ACEVEDO: My role last year was more of a spark off the bench, whereas this year it is to be a leader.
Q: The Tritons lost six of their top seven scorers from last season and enter this year with seven true freshmen. What has been the most challenging part of incorporating so many newcomers on this year's squad?
ACEVEDO: Actually, it hasn't been hard at all. Everyone is very talented in their respected positions. The hardest part for them has been learning the plays, which for our smart freshman hasn't been tough at all.
Q: You've been a part of the team in each of head coach Chris Carlson's first two years on the sidelines. How has Coach Carlson helped you improve during your career at UCSD?
ACEVEDO: I give Coach Carlson so much praise with how much he has improved my individual game and expanded my knowledge of the game. I can't put into words how amazing of a coach and person he is both on and off the court.
Q: Last season, you played in a career-high 26 games off the bench. This year, you have started the past four games for the Tritons, two of which were victories for UCSD. What are the biggest adjustments you make between starting and coming off the bench?
ACEVEDO: When coming off the bench, I was able to watch and see weaknesses I can exploit before getting in. Now that I'm starting, I have really picked up my film watching, so I still have a leg up on what the other team may throw at us.
Q: You were a member of the Tritons' first CCAA Championship team and first squad to advance to the NCAA Division II Tournament. You also scored a career-high 23 points at Cal State Stanislaus in the regular season finale last year to help secure the first home playoff game in the program's D-II history. What is your top basketball memory from your time at UC San Diego?
ACEVEDO: Winning the CCAA Championship game stands out because we fought and played so hard to win that last game. And that allowed us to travel to Alaska for the NCAA tournament, which was another amazing experience -- one we can hopefully experience again this year.
Q: During your time with the team, you have played with six All-CCAA honorees, including Jordan Lawley, Shane Poppen, Kelvin Kim, Clint Allard, Henry Patterson, and Robby Peters. Who would you name to the UCSD All-Star Team from your time as a Triton?
ACEVEDO: Those six would be a great start! There are so many others I would certainly add for role playing purposes, but like I said, I'll play with any of those six anytime.
Q: The Tritons enter the first full week of the new year with a record of 2-6 overall and 1-4 in the CCAA. What do you project for the team during the rest of the season?
ACEVEDO: Even though we've had a tough start, I project greatness through hard work. We are a team that is very talented, but we need to stay focused to reach our goals of postseason play.
Q: Who would you say has the best sense of style on this year's team? Best sense of humor? Who's iPod would you most like to borrow during aroad trip?
ACEVEDO: Style for sure would be Jordan [Lawley] or me. iPod, certainly Justin Brue's for some underground rap or if I was feeling some Justin Bieber, I would listen to Jay Wey"s.
Q: What was your biggest motivation in coming to UC San Diego?
ACEVEDO: Academics and I believe the best situation to compete for a NCAA championship.
Q: You are a Communications major in Marshall College. What plans do you currently have following graduation?
ACEVEDO: I have too many ideas to write down, but on the top of the list is hopefully to be able to play basketball professionally in Puerto Rico and then getting into the front office of an NBA team.
Q: You're a fan of the defending NBA Champion Los Angeles Lakers and have stated that you spend much of your free time watching sports. What has been your favorite professional sports memory of the past decade?
ACEVEDO: Kobe's MVP and four championships. Michael Jordan's legendary hall of fame speech. Watching Ron Artest beat up fans [during a brawl in a Pacers-Pistons game at The Palace of Auburn Hills in 2004]. And finally watching Tiger Woods...well, implode.
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