Thursday, March 5, 2015

Can the Aggies keep their Duecks up against Hawaii?

From page B1 | January 22, 2014 |


UCD's Molly Greubel (23) — shown here in a home game — drew a clutch charge with less than a second remaining on Thursday at Fullerton, then made the two free throws to help the Aggies get to overtime. The locals eventually pulled off the victory. Wayne Tilcock/Enterprise file photo

It’s been building to this end.

And while no official announcement has been made, expect UC Davis men’s basketballer Josh Ritchart to be medically redshirted, perhaps as early as this week.

Ritchart, the Aggie big man who was off to a sizzling start in averaging 17.3 ppg in his first nine games, injured his lower right leg Nov. 15 in a 94-60 loss at Utah.

The following week at the Portland (Ore.) Invitational — playing through pain — Auburn native Ritchart scored 35 points in a win over Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville and was named Big West Conference Player of the Week.

But after that three-game set, Ritchart was confined to a walking boot and went to the bench.

Since Ritchart left the lineup, UCD is 3-10. The Aggies are 6-13 overall, 1-3 in league.

UCD coach Jim Les has long hinted that redshirt status is at hand for his 6-foot-9 senior, and one campus source said Tuesday that moment is now.

The news may not be entirely bad for Aggie fans.

Next year, J.T. Adenrele (knee) and Tyler Les (redshirting) will return with leading scorer Corey Hawkins and a solid cast of young standouts; players like Georgi Funtarov, Darius Graham and Iggy Nujic, who are getting valuable on-the-job training. Mix in Ritchart and UCD really has something …

Fine. Before we get too far ahead of ourselves, there’s still this season.

The Aggies’ reshuffled lineup gutted out a 69-61 win over Cal State Fullerton on Saturday and Aggie Nation will see if the locals have the horses to make the Big West tourney, and if so, how high that seed can be.

Next, Hawaii (12-5, 1-2) visits The Pavilion on Thursday at 7 p.m.

The Rainbow Warriors are led by Christian Standhardinger, who scored 27 points and grabbed 11 rebounds in UH’s 100-69 shellacking of UC Riverside on Saturday.

It was Standhardinger’s fifth double-double of the season.

Meanwhile, the Aggie women go on the road to meet the Warriors the same night.

Most people heading to Hawaii would pack sunscreen and swimsuits and wear huge smiles, knowing paradise awaits.

However, the UCD players’ carry-ons will be stuffed with game faces.

After a miraculous overtime victory at Fullerton on Saturday, the locals stand at 8-9 overall and 3-1 in conference. Hawaii is 8-7, 2-1.

A look back at how Molly Greubel earned two game-tying free throws with 0.5 seconds remaining in regulation at Fullerton is fascinating.

First, the hosts went ahead by two on last-second free throws.

Aggie coach Jennifer Gross was about to call a timeout with a half-second to go, but the Titans beat her to it.

With UCD inbounding a full court away from its basket, Gross then called time when she saw the Fullerton defensive alignment.

Once that strategy session ended, the Titans called yet another timeout.

The Charge, as it will be remembered in Aggie lore, was set up on a play called by assistant coach Matt Klemin. It was augmented when assistant Joe Teramoto instructed Celia Marfone (who was being guarded man-to-man) to move nearer to the inbounds pass and take her defender directly at Greubel.

Greubel got in the way. The foul was called and the rest was history — a 69-67 Aggie OT nod.

Les popped into the Athletics Communications office to watch the play on video:

“I’ve seen that play,” the men’s coach said. “But I’ve never seen it work.”

Notes: In the men’s win over Fullerton, Les rewarded defensive enthusiasm in practice by starting little-used Olivier-Paul Betu and Justin Dueck. Expect more of the same Thursday. Les hinted whoever is bringing it in practice probably gets a start. … Nujic (10) and Ryan Sypkens (15) came off the bench to combine for 25 points. The neat thing about high-octane Sypkens’ game, though, were his three blocks and good all-around defense. … Greubel — in addition to taking The Charge — scored eight points, grabbed six rebounds, dished four assists and played a game-high 41 minutes on Thursday.

— Reach Bruce Gallaudet at [email protected] or 530-320-4456.



Bruce Gallaudet

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