The UC Irvine sailing team enjoys about all the advantages that nature can offer--the calm waters of Newport Bay, the warm winds of Southern California, an ocean just down the road from campus.
Boats, plane tickets and meal money, though, can be a bit harder to come by. As one of Irvine's outstanding sailors, Nick Adamson, can attest, keeping the program afloat without university support isn't easy.
Adamson, a senior, had an outstanding fall season, finishing third in the Singlehanded National Championships recently held off of Newport Beach. Travel expenses for that outing were minimal.
But when Adamson, senior Brad Haney and freshman Craig Moss went to New London, Conn., for the Sloop National Championships at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy, it took some personal commitment.
"Me and two other guys had to buy plane tickets to Connecticut," said Adamson, a senior.
He's not complaining too loudly, though. The trio took second, even though they were unable to practice on the type of boat in which they competed, a J/22, which is a 22-foot keel boat. The Irvine team, unable to find a J/22 they could use, qualified in a boat called a Shield, which is an older design and more than a ton heavier.
"We were beating them going into the eighth race," Adamson said. But on the third and final day, the wind died down from 15 or 20 knots to about zero to five. Irvine finished second to the College of Charleston (S.C.)
"The wind got down to pretty much nothing," Adamson said. "We had trouble shifting gears."
With its early success, Irvine hopes to make a run at the Fowle Trophy, awarded to the winner of a points race that determines the overall leader from a number of collegiate sailing championships (Irvine won a dinghy national championship in 1990).
Even if money is tight, Irvine knows it has some advantages money can't buy.
"One year we went to Boston in February, and during one of the days it was snowing the whole time, freezing weather and all that," Adamson said. "At New Orleans last year, we had one day when it blew 30 miles an hour the whole day. It was kind of interesting."
With starting guards Gerald McDonald and Craig Marshall struggling with their shooting, Irvine men's basketball Coach Rod Baker is turning a bit more attention to an offense that sometimes gets the short end of the stick in Baker's defense-intensive practices.
"I wish we could turn up the offense a little easier," Baker said. "All we've talked about (recently) is playing offense as hard as we play defense."
McDonald is averaging 12.8 points, but shooting only 29% from the field. Marshall is averaging 8.3 points and shooting 37%.
Next Game: After a week off for exams, the Irvine men's team plays Loyola Marymount at 7:30 Monday night in the Lions' Gersten Pavilion.
Don't expect Baker to make wholesale changes to try to counter Loyola's run-and-gun game, though.
"We'll try to make them play our way," Baker said. "We don't want to get involved in playing their way. We'll make adjustments, but we won't play their way. That's their style. They perfected it, they invented it."
A year ago, Irvine was playing a style something akin to Loyola's, shooting freely and tempting opponents with a susceptible press. What if they should lapse into old habits Monday?
"You'll blink, and say, 'I wonder where that guy went? That guy was just starting,' " Baker said.
After scoring 48 points in two games last weekend and breaking the 1,000-point mark for her career, Kathy Lizarraga was named Big West Conference women's basketball player of the week, sharing the honor with UC Santa Barbara's Erika Kienast.
Lizarraga, a senior three-point specialist, is Irvine's leading scorer, averaging 18.4 points after scoring a career-high 26 against Texas Christian.
Despite her 26-point performance against the Lady Frogs, the long-range shooter spent a few surprised moments on the bench during that game.
"She took one against TCU that got her quickly substituted for," Coach Colleen Matsuhara said. "I brought her out of the game and said, 'That's a five-pointer. It's past NBA range.' "
Stat of the Week: Lizarraga is shooting a fair-to-middling 39% from the field. But guess what: From three-point range, her percentage is 46%.
"She's shooting better from three points than two points," Matsuhara said. "I asked her, 'Are we going for degree of difficulty, or what?' "
Freshman swimmer Laurel Hooper set a school record in the 200-yard backstroke in the Grand Prix Invitational at Belmont Plaza last weekend. Hooper swam 2 minutes 12.11 seconds to win her race, breaking the previous school record of 2:12.96 set by Lara Bigley in 1988.
Felicia Dixon, a senior guard who has returned to the women's basketball team after quitting during the tenure of former coach Dean Andrea, is still waiting to clear up some "no reports" on her transcript in order to become eligible. . . . The men's tennis team is ranked 21st nationally in a preseason poll. To Coach Greg Patton's dismay, only the top 20 are usually invited to the national indoor championships, which will be held in February at Louisville, Ky. Sophomore Brett Hansen-Dent has returned from a quarter away from school playing in satellite tour tournaments, and will be the team's No. 1 player. . . . Freshman women's tennis player Gina Garcia is ranked No. 24 in the Intercollegiate Coaches Assn. preseason regional rankings. Teammate Ali Yoshimoto, a junior, is ranked 28th. In doubles, the team of senior Kelly Goldsborough and sophomore Maggie Powers is ranked No. 13. Yoshimoto and junior Cory Crigger, a transfer from Cal State Long Beach, are ranked 14th. The women's team opens its regular season Jan. 24 against host UCLA.