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UC Irvine Notebook / John Weyler : ‘The Fiddler’ Is Now at Work Fine-Tuning His Starting Lineup

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He says “every time I try to get tricky, we lose,” so--after 11 games--Bill Mulligan has decided to stick with a straight-up man-to-man defense.

UC Irvine’s basketball coach--a.k.a. The Fiddler--isn’t done tinkering, though. The style of play may remain the same, but the players won’t. Mulligan is now juggling the Anteaters’ starting lineup.

At the moment, sophomore Ricky Butler is out of the power forward spot and junior Rob Doktorczyk is in. Junior Mike Labat is very close to being out at small forward and sophomore Jeff Herdman is close to being in.

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“We’re not getting enough production out of some people,” Mulligan said. “We went into Santa Barbara (a 95-79 UCSB victory) determined to keep them off the boards. Then Butler has no defensive rebounds and (UCSB’s Eric) McArthur had 7 offensive rebounds.

“You’d think at least he could lay a body on somebody.”

Butler, who’s 6-feet 7-inches and trimmed down to about 255 pounds, has started the past 3 games, his only starts of the year. He averaged 9 rebounds in the games against Nevada Las Vegas, Loyola of Chicago and Virginia (his first start), but has totaled just 6 in the last 2.

Doktorczyk (6-9, 200), who has played in only 3 games because of tendinitis in both knees, had a career-high 10 points and 7 rebounds against the Gauchos.

“Rob’s not very physical, but he blocks shots and I think he’s played really well considering how long he’s been out,” Mulligan said.

In the last 3 games, Labat has scored 28 points--making 8 of 19 shots from the floor--with 7 rebounds in 80 minutes of action. During the same period, Herdman has 24 points on 9 of 16 shooting with 6 rebounds in just 49 minutes.

Labat, who has started every game this season, is shooting 48% from the field, 76% at the free-throw line and is tied with Butler for the club lead with 19 offensive rebounds.

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Herdman, who has just 1 start, is shooting 44% from the floor, 83% at the line and better than 50% from 3-point range (13 of 24).

Mulligan was upset with the comments of UC Santa Barbara Coach Jerry Pimm following the victory over Irvine Saturday night and, of course, he let those feelings be known.

Pimm said he was so disappointed in his team’s second-half performance that he couldn’t be “pleased” with the victory.

“I resent that very much,” Mulligan said, before launching into an obscenity-laden tirade. “It’s like he’s saying, ‘We kicked your little . . . real good, but I’m not pleased . I hated that when (John) Wooden used to do it, but at least they were the best team in the country.”

Mulligan--who says he will make sure to remind his team of Pimm’s remarks when Santa Barbara plays at Irvine March 4--doesn’t just dislike Pimm, he’s beginning to hate all things Santa Barbara.

“Those fans down there are like the new rich,” he said. “As soon as they lose 4 in a row, that place (UCSB’s 6,000-seat Events Center) won’t be full.

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“I don’t think it’s a sincere crowd. They’ve just got a couple of fools who paint their faces a little and they think they’re Duke.”

Don’t hold back, Bill. Say what you really feel.

Senior guard Kevin Floyd jammed his right thumb and senior center Mike Doktorczyk took an elbow in his lip during practice Tuesday. Both got the day off Wednesday because Mulligan gave all the veterans a respite. Only the six freshmen practiced. Floyd says he will practice today. Doktorczyk also is expected to be ready.

Anteater Notes

Coach Bill Mulligan was the first West Coast inductee into the Champions Hall of Fame. Champions is the name of the new sports bars located in Marriott hotels and Mulligan’s picture will be on the wall of every one. Mulligan: “It’s great. I’ll be in there between Digger (Phelps) and those guys and people back East will be saying, ‘Who the hell is that?’ ” . . . The Anteaters have attempted 70 more 3-pointers than their opponents, but have made just 20 more. Irvine is 69 of 168 (41%) and opponents are 49 of 96 (51%). Shooting 51% from 3-point range is the same as shooting better than 75% on 2-pointers.

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