They haven't played a single home game on their campus in their 21/2 years of existence, but that hasn't slowed the Cal State San Marcos Cougars.
All Jim Saia's team has done is win games.
San Marcos is 26-1 this season -- holding down the No. 1 spot in the NAIA men's basketball rankings -- and has rattled off 17 straight victories, the longest streak in NAIA Division I, going into Tuesday's game against Bethesda.
"We're excited about it and we're doing this without a gym," Saia said. "We don't have a facility, but we will have one in 2016."
The former Fresno Pacific coach and Fresno State assistant returns to town Thursday when Cal State San Marcos plays the Sunbirds in an exhibition at the Special Events Center.
The Cougars -- who are outscoring their opponents 90.5 to 70.5 this season -- practice at the Rec Center at San Marcos and play their home games at MiraCosta Junior College.
"Our players have been great about it," said Saia, who left Fresno Pacific in May 2010 to help start up the San Marcos program.
"They understand when we recruit them; they know the situation. I think they're just happy to be playing basketball and have a good program to play in. They understand it's exciting to start up a program and obviously I started the program from scratch. ...
"My office is a construction trailer, so that's all we got."
In his three seasons at Fresno Pacific, Saia guided his teams to a 70-29 overall record, two appearances in the NAIA National Tournament and a Golden State Athletic Conference title in 2008-09 with a school-record 26 victories. He also was named the conference coach of the year that year.
Sunbirds coach Chris Wright, who was an assistant under Saia before taking over at Fresno Pacific, said Saia has had a huge impact on his career.
"I feel extremely blessed to have Coach Saia in my life," Wright said. "He's not only my mentor but a very, very close friend. Relationships like ours are very rare. Coach Saia really invested a lot into me early on in my career, and I wouldn't be the head coach at Fresno Pacific if it wasn't for him."
Wright said he's not surprised by Saia's recent success in such a short amount of time, but at the same time "it's remarkable what he has been able to achieve at San Marcos."
"That kind of thing just doesn't happen," Wright added. "He's as good a coach as there is at any level."
After Saia was hired at San Marcos, he spent his first year commuting back and forth from Fresno as he started putting together a team that wouldn't compete until the 2011-12 season.
In that first year, San Marcos went 19-12 and lost in the Association of Independent Institutions Conference tournament championship. Last season, the Cougars went 23-7 and reached the NAIA national tournament.
"I felt this was a great opportunity," said Saia, now in his third stint as a head coach at the four-year college level (he also was USC's interim coach in 2004-05).
"I'm a man of faith and I felt that the good Lord was leading me down here and it turned out to be an accurate move just because there's been a lot of blessings here."
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