San Diego-St. Mary's: Toreros Try To Shed Positive Light on Dim Season

Darren FeeneyCorrespondent IFebruary 18, 2009

Flashback to this time last year.

The San Diego Toreros currently find themselves in familiar territory.

After a 54-61 loss at St. Mary's, San Diego put together six straight wins, including a victory over No. 22 ranked Gonzaga in the West Coast Conference championship and first round upset special in the first round of the NCAA Tournament over fourth-seeded Connecticut.

What is keeping the Toreros from making a similar run this year?

The fact that since early December, their floor general, senior point guard Brandon Johnson, has been doing pregame rehab instead of pregame warm-ups.

In his self proclaimed "low point" in his two years at the helm at USD, head coach Bill Grier saw not only his leader, but possibly their season, slip away when Johnson tore his right Achilles against crosstown rival San Diego State.

To only complicate matters, his replacement, sophomore Trumaine Johnson has been in and out of suspension all season long.

After sitting out the first 12 games of the season due to a violation of team rules, the Toreros again will be without the services of Johnson, suspended for Thursday's match-up at Saint Mary's for a similar violation as San Diego looks to rebound having dropped six out of seven WCC contests.

The only attainable goal at this point for the Toreros is a top-four finish in conference play, earning a first-round bye, but face the undoubtedly tall task of replicating last years' run to the NCAA Tournament.