O’Neill: Sanctions helped team

Men’s basketball coach Kevin O’Neill discussed the oft-mentioned topic of sanctions with the Los Angeles Times Wednesday, saying the self-imposed sanctions helped his team in the long run because as a result, the NCAA did not further sanction the basketball program.

Had heavier sanctions come down, O’Neill said, the recruiting ramifications would have devastated the team. The team lost five commits from last year.

“I’m glad we self-imposed,” the Times reported O’Neill saying Wednesday at a coaches luncheon. “I think it played in our favor. Had we not, I think we’d have lost another recruiting class, and if you lose two in a row you’re basically dead in the water.”

That’s not the case, however, and O’Neill pointed to the strength of his roster, specifically the new players.

Incoming freshmen Maurice Jones, Bryce Jones, Curtis Washington and Garrett Jackson, and Fordham transfer Jio Fontan are expected to make an immediate impact on the team, which opens its season with an Oct. 23 scrimmage at the Galen Center. The first non-exhibition game will be on Nov. 13 against UC Irvine, also at the Galen Center.