The Aggies started off the season with injuries plaguing the team, but their recent play has shown they are indeed a contender for the conference title. The team had just a 4-8 record going in to conference play, but are now sitting on top with a 2-0 conference record amid a three-game winning streak. Davis certainly has the talent needed to win the Big West and it seems as if they have finally put all the pieces together to play some excellent team basketball.

“The biggest improvement has been coming together as a team, having more fun and supporting each other,” senior forward Dominic Calegari said. “We sat down as a team and reevaluated why we’re doing this whole thing. Everyone realized that we want to be out here having fun, and winning is kind of an afterthought. It’s exciting that everyone is on the same page now.”

Calegari is one of the team’s biggest contributors and has lead the team in scoring the past two games, with a 20-point performance against Cal State Fullerton last Saturday and a career-high 28 points to go along with 11 rebounds and four steals against Cal State Northridge Monday night. As the only senior on the team, he has been an excellent source of leadership and guidance for his teammates.

“He’s a really good role model,” Head Coach Gary Stewart said of Calegari. “He’s a multidimensional guy that’s hard to handle one-on-one.”

Another big portion of the talent for the Aggies comes in the form of a pair of 6′ 8″ junior guards, Mark Payne and Joe Harden. Payne was the Big West Freshman of the Year in ’07-’08 and was leading the team this season with 17.2 points, 3.4 steals and 4.5 assists per game prior to a recent injury in Saturday night’s game against Fullerton. Harden is averaging 14 points per game and leads the team in rebounds.

“I’d hate to play without them,” Stewart said. “They’re versatile and central to our offense because we can do so many different things with them.”
Stewart is in his 17th season as a collegiate head coach with additional years as an assistant coach and player under his belt. The Aggie general pushes his players not just for success on the court, but in their academic endeavors as well.

“He has an incredible influence on everybody,” Calegari said. “When he’s coaching the way he’s been coaching the past couple weeks, it’s both fun to play for him and an inspiration. His positive attitude is phenomenal.”

A recurring issue for the Aggies throughout the past few seasons has been their inability to stay healthy, which has held true so far this season. The team already went through a five-game skid in which they had only eight active players in the lineup for three consecutive games. Harden has missed two games already, three other players have missed at least seven games each and Payne has been sidelined one game with a shoulder injury. But with so many players missing games, other players have gotten more than their usual share of minutes.

“The injuries have afforded us the opportunity to play more people,” Stewart said. “We have people that are very young, freshmen and sophomores that were playing 30 minutes. That experience is invaluable and now we’re reaping the benefits of that.”

The Aggies haven’t let these injuries get them down, either. They have their sights set on a great season no matter what hurdles they must overcome.

“Our guys are used to dealing with adversity because we’ve had so many injuries,” Stewart said. “We told our players that [injuries] would not be an excuse for poor play and our guys bought into that.”

As well as the Aggies are currently playing, they have the potential to be even better when they return to their everyday lineup. With a strong motivation to match their shooting potential, the Aggies are a very dangerous team every time they take the court.

“Once we get everybody back it’s going to be tough for us to lose if we keep playing the way we’re playing,” Calegari said.