The team enters the season as the No. 3 ranked team in the country. Last season, the Frogs advanced to the final four for only the fourth time in school history and finished the year ranked No. 4.
Assistant coach Devin Bowen said he doesn’t pay too much attention to national rankings but prefers to focus on getting his guys better each day.
“We really do not discuss winning or losing or rankings,” Bowen said. “My own personal goal is to be the best prepared team every time we walk on the court.”
Bowen said he doesn’t want to compare this team to last year’s team.
“Last year’s team had an amazing run, and it will never be forgotten; but that was last year’s team,” he said. “I don’t think they want to be compared to that team, and I don’t want them to waste their energy worrying about what people think of them or expect them to do.”
The Frogs have a young roster — they lost five seniors from last year. The team boasts four nationally ranked players, a group led by returning All-American sophomore Cameron Norrie (No.4). Sophomores Guillermo Nuñez and Trevor Johnson are ranked No. 24 and No.73, respectively. Junior Jerry Lopez rounds out the group at No. 109.
Bowen said he believes his top players will play up to, if not exceed, expectations.
“I think Nunez and Norrie are in great form, and I don’t see any reason they cannot light it up again this season,” Bowen said.
The Frogs are also adding two highly recruited freshmen, including the No. 1 recruit in the nation, Alex Rybakov. Bowen said he believes he’s about to have a breakout year.
“Alex Rybakov is going to have a huge year and is going to be tough to beat,” Bowen said.
Bowen said the key for the season is to stay focused and to get better every day.
“We tend to get pretty caught up in finding small edges everyday in practice… I cannot even remember the last time we discussed rankings, seedings or anything related to the NCAA tournament,” Bowen said.
The Frogs host Oklahoma State, Harvard and San Diego State on Jan. 23-24 in a tournament that sends its winner to the ITA National Team Indoor Championship in Charlottesville, Virginia, in February.