Team preview: San Diego

Blue Ribbon Illustrated previews the 2004-05 college basketball season, exclusively on Insider.

Updated: October 20, 2004, 5:25 PM ET
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As concisely as possible, Brad Holland summarized the train wreck that was his 2003-2004 season: "Brutal."

A season removed from its greatest glory – 18 victories, a West Coast Conference Tournament championship and a NCAA Tournament appearance-the Toreros were felled by so many injuries, at times the travel squad included four walk-ons.

It was as tough a campaign that Holland, entering his 11th season at San Diego, has had in his tenure.

Six of his top eight players missed significant time with injuries. Eighteen wins turned to four and only one came in conference play.

It was so bad at times, Holland and his staff struggled to maintain not just the morale of his charges, but his own sanity and that of the rest of his staff.

"It's not the way you want to follow the year we had had," Holland said.

"We had so many major injuries. When that many guys go down, it really retards the growth of your program. It just wasn't possible to have the season we wanted. It was a very difficult year."

It started on an ominous note when the team's top perimeter defender, guard Corey Belser, went down with a season-ending ACL injury in the team's first exhibition game.

From there it was a slippery slope, as several starters and key reserves alternated stints on the floor and time in the training room.

"I wish we could start tomorrow," Holland said.

"So we can get away from the shadow of losing. There are bad feelings from a year ago. We got through it. This is a much different team. We found out some new things about ourselves, about what we need to do."