Wednesday, April 23, 2014
YOLO COUNTY NEWS
99 CENTS

Slugs could cure UCD\’s woes

By
November 17, 2010 | Leave Comment

Enterprise staff writer

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When you\’re not feeling well, there\’s nothing like home cooking … and taking just the right medicine.

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Tonight, as the 0-3 UC Davis meets Division-III UC Santa Cruz (0-1), it marks the season\’s first men\’s basketball game at The Pavilion.

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Not only is Aggie head coach Gary Stewart happy to be back on campus, the Banana Slugs should provide the perfect elixir for a club struggling to integrate all its new pieces.

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“It\’s always good … to have your first opportunity to play at home,” Stewart said Tuesday.

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The eight-year UCD coach wasn\’t thrilled with his guys\’ showing at last weekend\’s Athletes in Action Classic in Portland, Ore. But he wasn\’t upset, either. In games against Florida

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Atlantic, Portland and Wisconsin-Milwaukee, each loss had the same script: Fall behind early then play inspired-but-too-late defense in the second halves.

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Stewart thinks the fix is obvious — “Play better for longer periods of time” — and he understands what the problem has been.

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“We\’ve put too much pressure on our defense,” coach continues. “Offensively we\’ve struggled. But we\’re trying to integrate an awful lot of different people into (the system).”

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Stewart knows it\’s way too early to believe the first three games are a microcosm of what\’s ahead. Not with veterans Mark Payne and Joe Harden on the court — and a talented group of newcomers just finding their footing.

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Payne\’s 17 points against Wisc.-Milwaukee put him at 1,008 for his career (17th all-time at UCD). Harden is only 53 points shy of that 1,000-Point Club. Both are expected to provide an exciting and dynamic style of ball that could cover some of the future growing pains of the duo\’s younger supporting cast.

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That Harden-Payne 1-2 punch has a chance to emerge large when the Banana Slugs slither into Davis at 7 p.m. tonight.

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Over the years, the two schools have met 15 times with the Aggies winning 14 games. Last year, also at The Pavilion, the Aggies rolled to an 88-59 win.

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Mmmm. Santa Cruz: the perfect medicine.

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The Slugs are coming off a 73-70 overtime loss at home to William Jessup, a NAIA member of the California Pacific Conference.

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Competent swingman Ryan Matsuoka tallied 22 points in the loss as UCSC just couldn\’t get inside against Jessup. Santa Cruz was 11-16 last season.

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UCD fared a little worse against a much better opponent last Sunday, losing 73-62 to Wisc.-Milwaukee, despite a 21-point performance by Harden.

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Whittling the Panther lead down to six points on four occasions, the early double-digit deficit was too much to overcome as Wisc.-Milwaukee hit clutch free throws down the stretch.

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Stewart wants more contribution, quicker, from Harden and Payne\’s support cast.

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Look for play-anywhere Harden and guard Payne to continue to clean the boards (35 between them) with help inside from forward Todd Lowenthal (15 rebounds). Sophomore Ryan Sypkens, a Franklin High graduate, averaged eight points a game on the trip north, but these veterans are probably champing at the bit to see the four Aggie freshman develop.

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Alex Tiffin, a 6-foot-9 forward from Thousand Oaks, started every game in Portland, while swingman Josh Ritchart (Forest Hills Christian of Auburn), Tyler Les (a forward from Peoria, Ill.) and center/forward Mike Kurtz — the 7-foot standout from Woodcreek High — each played significant minutes in the first three games for UCD.

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Notes: The Aggies have Boise State (1-0) at home on Sunday at 1 p.m. Last season, UCD went to Boise and best the Broncos 82-74 in an ESPNU Bracketbusters game. … The Aggies venture into Pauley Pavilion on Dec. 13 to meet UCLA. Pac-10 champion California and UCD play on Dec. 1 in Berkeley. It\’s the first time since 1986 that the two teams have met. … In the past three seasons, it has been up, up, UP for the Aggies. In 2007-08, the locals won nine games (two in conference), then in \’08-09 UCD chalked up 13 wins (seven in league). Last season the Ags went 13-19, winning eight Big West contests.

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— Reach Bruce Gallaudet at bgallaudet@davisenterprise.net or (530) 747-8047. Comment on this story at www.davisenterprise.com

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