Thursday, April 2, 2015

2012-13 performance gives Aggie men hope for the future

The UCD bench celebrates a big play in the Aggies' victory at Sacramento State. Wayne Tilcock/Enterprise photo

From page B1 | March 24, 2013 |

There are really only two schools of thought when it comes to the UC Davis men’s basketball team and its performance this winter.

One is that the 2012-13 incarnation of the Aggies had the potential to go further than any other team in school history, but squandered too many games with its inconsistent commitment to defense and its inability to finish down the stretch.

The other way to look at it is that UCD’s struggles were the product of its youthfulness and inexperience, and that the talent it flashed should be seen as a good omen, a preview of how good the Aggies (14-17, 9-9 in Big West Conference play) can be in the next few years.

Obviously, UCD head coach Jim Les — along with his staff, players and all of the Aggie fans — would like to think that the second theory is the truth. And their optimism is certainly not blind.

Take, for instance, the play of the Aggies against their toughest competition. There was the season opener in Stillwater, Okla., in which UCD was a few plays away from knocking off Big-12 powerhouse Oklahoma State. The Cowboys, who pulled out the game in the end, 73-65, went on to earn a fifth seed in the NCAA college basketball tournament. They were upset in their opener by Pac-12 champion Oregon on Wednesday.

The Aggies also posted two competitive losses to Pacific — another NCAA tournament team that made The Big Dance by claiming the Big West crown — and a near-victory against Long Beach State, a mid-major force in recent years, in UCD’s first ever nationally televised home game.

Playing on ESPN2, and in front of a sold-out crowd that filled even the loftiest bleachers at The Pavilion, the Aggies gave the 49ers a run for their money behind the play of their star sophomore, Corey Hawkins, who introduced himself to the nation with a game-high 34 points.

But with UCD trailing LBSU in the final minutes, Hawkins keeled over at midcourt with severe leg cramps and was unable to return. Teammate Ryan Howley came up short moments later on a potential game-winning 3-pointer that rolled around the inside of the rim before popping out as the buzzer sounded — leaving Aggie players, coaches and fans to curse their bad luck.

Then there was the season-ending loss to Cal Poly in the opening round of the conference tournament. UCD, the sixth seed, trailed the third-seeded Mustangs by a single point at halftime and seemed to be on the verge of pulling ahead before falling apart in the second half and losing, 64-41.

“We didn’t play our best basketball (against Cal Poly),” Les told The Enterprise. “We were certainly far from being 100 percent as a team.”

The close loss was a recurring theme during the season, as 13 of UCD’s 17 defeats came by 10 points or less.

While the Aggies could have done without the heartbreakers, they showed in those games that they could go toe-to-toe with anybody on their schedule. And it wasn’t like they didn’t have their fair share of victories.

They beat Cal Poly and Northern Colorado on buzzer-beaters by Hawkins and Paolo Mancasola, respectively, swept Hawaii behind 40- and 21-point nights from Hawkins, and went on a 5-1 roll late in the season.

“(The players) had a really good work ethic,” Les said. “They were really coachable. They were really dedicated to each other.

“The buy-in from our players was excellent and that put us in position to get better later in the year.”

The Aggies also saw a host of players turn in impressive years. Hawkins led the Big West in scoring at 22.5 points per game en route to securing a spot on the all-league first team and the conference’s Newcomer of the Year Award. Junior Ryan Sypkens finished among the nation’s leaders in 3-point field-goal percentage (.468) and treys made per game (3.78). Sypkens and sophomore J.T. Adenrele, who averaged 12.7 points and 5.9 rebounds, both received Big West honorable mentions.

UCD’s Big Three will all be back next season. Joining them will be key reserves Josh Ritchart, who was fourth on the team in scoring at 7.8 points per game, and Tyler Les, who was the team’s second best 3-point shooter after Sypkens.

In fact, the Aggies are expected to lose only two players off of this year’s squad — Howley and Mancasola. Both started and played important roles this winter — Mancasola led the team in assists and Howley provided everything from rebounding to perimeter defense — and UCD will have a tough time replacing them.

“Those two were warriors,” Jim Les said. “I credit them and will be forever grateful to them for establishing (a) foundation (for the team).”

But the Aggies will get reinforcements in the form of Avery Johnson, a 6-foot-3 junior guard who was required to sit out the 2012-13 season after transferring from the University of San Francisco; Darius Graham, who is expected to return from a season-ending injury; and Brynton Lemar, a new recruit. Lemar turned in a memorable prep career as a point guard at St. Augustine and his creative passes are featured several YouTube clips.

With the increased depth, coach Les is optimistic about next season, saying this week that UCD’s goal is to continue to improve its record. After going from 5-26 two years ago to 14-17 this past season, Les hopes to win at least 20 games in 2013-14.

“You’ve got to be consistent,” he replied when asked what it will take to get his team to that new landmark. “You’ve got to beat your fair share of teams.”

— Reach Will Bellamy at [email protected]



  • Recent Posts

  • Enter your email address to subscribe to this newspaper and receive notifications of new articles by email.

  • .


    A joyous Chávez celebration

    By Fred Gladdis | From Page: A1

    Nano-brewery on tap for G Street

    By Dave Ryan | From Page: A1 | Gallery

    Secondhand smog from Asia drifts to California

    By Kat Kerlin | From Page: A1 | Gallery

    Sentencing postponed in parental abduction case

    By Anne Ternus-Bellamy | From Page: A1

    Food Bank gives out meals on Saturday

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

    Water-saving landscape tips offered

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

    Children of area pioneers offer a glimpse into region’s past

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4 | Gallery

    Bunny Run benefits Yolo SPCA

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

    Take a peek at region’s past at Tremont Mite Society’s social

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4 | Gallery

    Free blood pressure screenings offered

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4Comments are off for this post

    Health, wellness fair features info and fun

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

    Swap your wheels at Chávez fundraiser

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

    Art, science topics explored at LASER

    By Kathy Keatley Garvey | From Page: A5 | Gallery

    Per Capita Davis: Nuggets of news from the mailbox

    By John Mott-Smith | From Page: A5

    Go all in to benefit DMTC

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A5 | Gallery

    Bak2Sac program kicks off Saturday

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A5

    Come hear literacy success stories

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A5

    Workshop helps locals prepare a living will

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A7

    Book sale benefits Friends of the Library

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A8





    Aggie foursome ready for regional gymnastics meet

    By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1 | Gallery

    Devil bats struggle in Boras Classic loss

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B1

    Blue Devil boys get a much-needed win

    By Thomas Oide | From Page: B1 | Gallery

    Gamboa, Kelly still knocking on MLB door

    By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1 | Gallery

    Harden has 51 as Rockets edge Kings

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B3 | Gallery

    Youth roundup: Two Diamonds shine at state championships

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B8 | Gallery



    What’s happening

    By Anne Ternus-Bellamy | From Page: B4

    Showcase and auction benefit speech and debate team

    By Anne Ternus-Bellamy | From Page: B4 | Gallery

    Davis High students host plant sale

    By Anne Ternus-Bellamy | From Page: B4

    College Corner: College open houses are worth attending

    By Jennifer Borenstein | From Page: B4

    Up a lazy river with me — and my wine glass

    By Susan Leonardi | From Page: A9



    Classical Guitar Concert Series welcomes DuoSF

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A9 | Gallery

    Sign up now for summer rock star mini-musical

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A9

    Sundays at I-House features singer-guitarist

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A9 | Gallery

    Custom Neon to play E Street Plaza

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A9 | Gallery



    Ink Monkey honored as Business of the Year

    By Felicia Alvarez | From Page: A1 | Gallery



    Mildred Thomson Barker

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

    Joseph Andrew Hein

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

    Gordon Phillip Davis

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

    Hector A. Contreras

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4



    Comics: Thursday April 2, 2015

    By Creator | From Page: B8