STOCKTON -- There is no pressure on Duane Jones to play basketball.
That means it doesn't matter whom Jones goes up against as the starting point guard for the Cal State Stanislaus men's basketball team. Division I, Division II, community college -- he'll take away something more than a win or a loss from any opponent.
Jones and the Warriors lost to University of the Pacific 81-59 in an exhibition game at Spanos Center on Thursday, the first of three Division I opponents in five days.
"There's no pressure, not this game," Jones said, holding back a laugh. "I've been doing this all my life. The only pressure is to get everybody to play as one."
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The Warriors had only 12 practices together going into the Pacific game. Saturday they're at Cal Poly-San Luis Obispo and Monday at Santa Clara. Their first official game is at the Seattle Tournament on Nov. 16.
Building team chemistry and testing themselves against the toughest teams available are at the forefront for the Warriors.
"I want them to compete," Stanislaus coach Keith Larsen said of his players. "In exhibition games, I'm really trying to nitpick things I don't want to grow."
Developing the right habits extended from being in the right place under the basket to not pouting behind the water cooler on the sideline. Larsen said one of the Warriors' hang-ups early in the game was reacting to a bad play.
"Rather than let it go, they'd come back and try to do something big to make up for it," Larsen said. "When we did things well, like when we started (the game winning) 11-9, it was like the good things came 1-2-3.
"When we did things bad, we did things bad 1-2-3-4-5."
Overall, Larsen is happy with the way the Warriors are progressing. They're further along than they were at this point last year, he said, and there's less drop-off between starters and bench players.
Stanislaus lost the commanding presence of graduated seniors like Marcus Martinez and Cameron Quick. But the emergence of Jones, J.R. Cassita, Terry Johnson and Calvin Westbrook was evident Thursday.
Seven players return from last season's 13-15 team, including starters Rick Cardoso and Heath Colvin. Also prominent are Jones, Westbrook, Scott Behrs, Casey Fletcher and Richard Maraker.
Jones led the Warriors with 19 points, including four 3-pointers. Stanislaus made just 35 percent of its shots.
It was a far cry from the last time UOP hosted the Warriors on Nov. 15, 2005, when Stanislaus lost by just eight, 100-92.
Maraker is the only current Warrior who was on the roster for that game, which was set up partly so Maraker could be on the same court as big brother Christian, the 2005-06 Big West Player of the Year.
Stanislaus made 21 of 45 3-pointers that night.
"I think we had some great individual performances, like Duane's," Westbrook said of Thursday's game. "Our big men were excellent. They boxed out and kept the other guys off the boards. The defense allowed us to rebound strong. We were still outrebounded, but our guys were tough."
Westbrook made back-to-back 3-pointers to make the score 55-42 with 13 minutes left. Behrs capped the 12-2 run with a 3-pointer to cut the lead to 10.
The Tigers answered with a 15-4 scoring spree to go up 70-49. East Union High grad Michael Nunnally led Pacific with eight rebounds and scored seven points -- junior Chad Troyer led the UOP scoring with 14 points.
Pacific outrebounded Stanislaus 47-34, most notably in the first half when 16 of the Tigers' 19 rebounds were defensive.
The night left the Warriors feeling optimistic about what they can do this season. Larsen compared it to a first date when everything is uncertain.
Some things went right, some things didn't, but you sure want another one.