YOLO COUNTY NEWS

Aggies

UCD women aim to make Simpson\’s last season special

By November 10, 2010

Enterprise staff writer

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There\’s a lot of scary-good karma floating around the UC Davis women\’s basketball team.

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First, beloved head coach Sandy Simpson says this is his final year at the helm, and his Aggies want to send him out with a special season.

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Then there\’s Paige Mintun. The dynamic senior has been named to the Big West Preseason All-Conference First Team.

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Meanwhile, those same media “experts” have chosen UCD to defend its Big West title.

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Know, too, that the Aggies return four starters and 10 (yes, that\’s right, ten) letter-winners and it all just feels right for UCD basketball fans.

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“The opportunity to lead this program has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life,” Simpson said on Oct. 8 when announcing his plans to retire after the season.

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Simpson — named coach of the year in three different conferences — has a 227-144 (.612) record since taking over in 1998. The 227 victories are the most for any coach in program history. Beginning this week, coach and company have the chance to do something very special.

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As evidenced by last week\’s 91-33 exhibition wipeout of San Francisco State, Aggie opponents will have to pick their poison this winter.

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In planning to stop Mintun (who averaged 13 points and five rebounds a game last year), foes will still have to figure out what to do with frontline-mates Heidi Heintz (11 points) and Kasey Riecks (10). Each has proven to be able to shoulder a go-to role on any given night.

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On the other side of the court, the Aggies can go man-to-man or use their aggressive buzz zone, each of which has been effective in forcing turnovers. Guard Hana Asano (86 steals last season), along with Heintz (59) and Mintun (65), have been hell on opposing offenses.

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Against the Gators, UCD put five women in double-figures, and Aggies fans might have to get used to that kind of balanced scoring in 2010-11.

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The Aggies (21-11, 12-4 in Big West) earned the regular-season conference crown last season, but fell to UC Riverside in the BWC tournament title tilt. The Aggies bounced over to the Women\’s National Invitational Tournament, giving California all it could handle in the opening round before falling in overtime. The Golden Bears went on to win the WNIT.

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A similar-looking UCD squad opens it regular season on Friday at the University of San Francisco (5:30 p.m.) before returning to The Pavilion on Sunday for their first stern test of the year — against Washington State (1 p.m.).

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While the first two games might not raise a sweat for the Aggies — USF was 5-27 and the Cougars went 8-22 last year — the trip to Los Angeles next week will.

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UCD plays Pepperdine and UCLA on Nov. 19 and 21, with the Bruins coming off a 25-9 campaign. Both were NCAA tournament invitees in 2010.

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That gut-check journey is followed by a three-game homestand during which Yale, South Carolina and St. Mary\’s come to town.

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Notes: Mintun, in a dazzling first-half against SFSU, hit her first three treys and led the Aggies to 9-0 and 33-6 leads, during which UCD added a 14-0 spurt for good measure. Mintun finished with 21 points, 17 of them in the first 20 minutes.

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