UCI men’s basketball preview: Anteaters aim to be the best in the
A record was broken.
Players were lost.
High expectations remain.
Last year, the UC Irvine men’s basketball team had its best season in
school history. The team won the Big West Conference for the first time
and set a school mark for most wins in a season with a 25-5 overall
The team lost three key players from last year’s squad -- seniors
Malachi Edmond, Ben Jones and Sean Jackson. They combined to average 30
points and 11 rebounds per game last season.
“What we lost from last year was experience,” UCI Coach Pat Douglass
said. "(Edmond, Jones and Jackson) were four-year players. Most of the
year they played good defense. We won 15 games by five points or less, so
they came up with big shots.”
Although it may be challenging, the Anteaters still have the Green
light to go all the way again.
It flashes with brilliance on offense and shines at the free-throw
line. It fills fans and players with hopes that history can repeat
It is Jerry Green, last year’s Big West Player of the Year. Green led
the Anteaters in scoring and assists in his first three seasons at UCI
and will be a key to the team’s success this year.
Green, a 6-foot-3 senior guard, averaged 19 points and 4.8 rebounds
per game last year.
“We want to try to do better than we did last year,” Green said. “Now
it is going to be a challenge. We want to go farther, win the Big West
and make it to the national tournament.”
Last year the team did not advance to the NCAA tournament, but made
its third appearance in the National Invitation Tournament. The Anteaters
lost to the eventual NIT champion, Tulsa, 75-71, in the first round.
In addition to Green, returners include senior Dave Korfman, All-Big
West Freshman team selections Adam Parada and Stanislav Zuzak, as well as
senior J.R. Christ. Sophomore guard Aras Baskauskas is also a returner.
“We have better size, better ball handling and rebounding ability this
year,” Douglass said.
Korfman and Parada will provide the Anteaters with a sizable presence.
At 7-foot-2, Korfman is the tallest player on the team, followed by
Parada, a 7-0 sophomore center.
Korfman made only five starts and played in 21 games last season. The
center averaged 1.6 points per game. He sustained a head injury and had
surgery to remove fluid buildup around his brain that caused him to miss
This season he has already shown he is ready for action. He had six
rebounds and scored nine points in the Anteaters’ 81-56 exhibition
victory over Cal State Bakersfield Saturday.
Parada contributed last season with 7.6 points per game as a redshirt
and averaged a team-leading 6.2 rebounds.
Another big player for UCI is Zuzak, a 6-10 sophomore forward. He
averaged 4.9 points per game last season and 3.3 rebounds.
Christ will also provide height and depth for the Anteaters. He
averaged 4.4 points off the bench. The 6-9 center also chipped in with
3.7 rebounds per game.
Baskauskas isn’t as tall physically as the other returners, but his
abilities are high on the Anteaters’ priority list. The 6-3 sophomore
guard played in all 30 games last season as a redshirt freshman. He
averaged 1.3 points per game, but is most important to the Anteaters for
his defensive ability.
In addition to the returning players, newcomers Matt Okoro, Jordan
Harris and Mike Hood will look to make an immediate impact.Okoro played
as a freshman in 1999-2000 and sat out last year.
Harris, a 6-5 junior, brings Division I experience, having played two
seasons at Colgate University where he earned second-team All-Patriot
League honors in 1999-2000 before transferring to UCI last year. Harris,
who sat out last season, was Colgate’s second-leading scorer with an
average of 14 points per game.
Hood, a 6-4 guard, transferred to UCI a year ago from the College of
Southern Idaho. After playing in three games last season, he was granted
a medical hardship because of knee tendinitis.
Rounding out UCI’s squad are incoming freshmen Jeff Gloger (Capistrano
Valley High), DeVaughn Peace (Bishop Montgomery High), Ross Schraeder
(East High in Denver) and Ryan Codi (Prairie High in Washington).
In addition, Jeff Hufford is a walk-on player who averaged 10 points
per game at Chaminade Prep.
Peace, a 6-3 guard, played on back-to-back state championship teams at
Bishop Montgomery and last year averaged 10 points, five assists and four
rebounds per game.
“We are a relatively young team,” said Douglass, last year’s Big West
Coach of the Year. “We are still dealing with the basics, but we have
lofty goals. We have to play at another level to fulfill the goals we
have for this season.”
UCI, ranked first by coaches and media in the Big West Conference
preseason polls, will begin the regular season with a nonconference home
game against St. Mary’s Friday at 7 p.m.
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