Cal-Irvine preview

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Cal-Irvine preview

Postby Commissioner » Fri Nov 22, 2019 9:05 am

University of California-Irvine

When: Sunday, Nov. 24, 3:00 p.m. EST
Where: Las Vegas, NV, Clark HS Gymnasium
TV: Flo Hoops (Subscription)
Radio: 910 AM Superstation

The Titans' long November away from home continues with two games in Las Vegas. These games are part of the MGM Grand Main Event, an exempt tournament including, for the Titans, this week-end's games against UC-Irvine and Louisiana, plus our earlier road games at Clemson and Wyoming. The big boys--Clemson, Wyoming, Colorado, and TCU--get to play at the T-Mobile Arena in Vegas. The "middleweight" division--the Titans, UCI, and the Ragin' Cajuns--play at the kids table, Ed W. Clark High School on the north side of town.

Ed W. Clark HS was built by the Del Webb Corporation, of Sun Cities fame, in 1965. It alums include U.S. Senators John Ensign and Catherine Cortez Masto, and TV unfunny man Jimmy Kimmel. Ed Clark was a turn of the century railroad man, gradually expanding his interests to run Las Vegas’ first bank, its first telephone company, and its first power company. He helped bring Hoover Dam to reality and made sure Nevada got a share of the electricity it would generate. Politically, Clark built a powerful Democratic machine in what would eventually become Clark County. Frankly, there's a lot more here to write about than there would be if we were playing in T-Mobile

As for basketball, this will be the first meeting ever between Detroit and UC-Irvine. Like Clark High School, UC-Irvine opened in 1965, in the sleepy, distant LA suburb of Irvine (actually, Irvine wouldn't be incorporated until 1971. The campus was built on 1000 acres of the 94,000 acre Irvine Ranch, sold to the state for $1. The uniquely-named Anteaters began playing D-I basketball in 1977-78 in what was then called the PCAA (Pacific Coast Athletic Association), now the Big West. The Anteaters first made some noise in the early 1980s, behind Kevin McGee, a 2nd-team All American who powered UCI to a 23-7 record, an NIT bid, and a one-week appearance at #19 in the Coach's poll. But Irvine didn't make its first NCAA appearance until 2015, when they won the Big West tournament. In the first round, they pressed Louisville to the max before losing 57-55.

Last year UCI got its second NCAA appearance after a stellar 30-5 season and Big West regular season and tournament titles. In the first round, they stunned Kansas State, pushing their winning streak to 17, before falling to Oregon in the second round. That was a school record for wins, but the Anteaters have not been a stranger to winning in the last decade--they've had 7 straight winning seasons under coach Russ Turner, with at least 20 wins in six of those years.

The Anteaters lose four rotation players from last year's team. The biggest blow was the decision of their leading scorer, the wonderfully-named Max Hazzard, to go the grad transfer route to Arizona. But Irvine can handle such losses better than most--last year's Anteaters were a deep and balanced bunch, with 9 players averaging 15 minutes and 6 points a game, and two more getting in 9 minutes a game. So there's plenty of experience returning, and the Anteaters were generally picked to finish at or near the top of the Big West.

This year's Eaters again play a deep rotation, with 10 players averaging at least 10 minutes per game. An 11th player, freshman guard Devin Cole, averages just 8 minutes per game but has started twice.

Seniors Eyassu Worku and Evan Leonard start in the back court. Neither shoots a lot of three but both can be dangerous if left open. Leonard hasn't been hitting this year, but he connected on over 40% last year. Worku is the other way round. That is, historically he's not that good (about 31%) but he's been knocking them down so far in this young season. 6-5 senior John Edgar is the small forward. There's good size up front with 6-11 center Brad Greene. An injury redshirt last year after playing 35 games as a soph in 2018, Greene has averaged over 8 points and 6 boards this year. Tommy Rutherford, a 6-8 power forward, is an excellent finisher in the low post. These two should press Justin Miller to the max in the paint. Moreover, they've got some added size on the bench in 6-9 forwards Austin Johnson and Collin Welp. Note that all of the back-up guards are freshmen.

Irvine is a neat team because they win without a lot of flair. They use that deep rotation to play a very sticky man-to-man defense. Legs are always fresh, and they're a good defensive team without gambling for steals. Their three-point numbers look like those of a team from 20 years ago, shooting only about 16 a game and making about 32%. Most of their offense comes from inside, where they will have a big height advantage over our Titans. Correspondingly, they are also beasts on the boards -- Irvine is outrebounding opponents by 12 per game. They are also one of the best free throw shooting teams in the country.

Irvine's five starters have played together since being recruited as a class in 2016. They know each other well and definitely have a chemistry that makes this team better than the sum of its parts. In light of that, some will find it a bit surprising that turnovers are the team's big weakness: they average over 16 a game. And they don't force many turnovers, giving them a very high negative turnover margin of over 4 per game. Much So this is an area for the Titans to take advantage. Also, opponents are having success shooting the three against UCI, and we have three point shooters, even if they have yet to show it.

Irvine lost a heartbreaker on Thursday, 59-58 to TCU on a three pointer with 4 seconds left, and comes in at 3-2. This is a good team, and a tough match-up for the Titans, who will have to find a way to keep from being overpowered down low--which probably requires keeping the ball from getting down low. Given the size advantage, I'd expect UCI to try to throw over the top of the zone. But Irvine has weaknesses that play to some of our strengths. This will be a good test.

Probable Starters
PG - Eyassu Worku, 6-2 Sr. (13.2 ppg, 3.7 apg, .563 3Pt%)
SG - Evan Leonard, 6-1 Sr. (11.0 ppg, 4.0 rpg)
SF - John Edgar, 6-5 Sr. (6.8 ppg)
PF - Tommy Rutherford, 6-8 Sr. (8.5 ppg, 3.5 rpg)
C - Brad Greene, 6-11 RS Jr. (8.7 ppg, 7.2 rpg)

Key Reserves
G - Isaiah Lee, 6-2 Fr. (2.2 ppg)
G - Aiden Krauss, 6-4 RS Fr. (3.2 ppg)
G - Jeron Artest, 6-3 Fr. (3.7 ppg)
G - Devin Cole, 5-11 RS Fr. (1.3 ppg)
F - Collin Welp, 6-9 RS Soph. (12.3 ppg, 5.3 rpg)
F - Austin Johnson, 6-9 Fr. (5.5 ppg, 4.8 rpg)
Titan All Americans Calihan Swanson Sparrow Ebben DeBusschere Murray Haywood Long Tyler Duerod Phillips Green McCallum
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Re: Cal-Irvine preview

Postby Rogobob77 » Fri Nov 22, 2019 9:36 pm

UC Irvine message board thread on Sunday’s game: ... 23935.html
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Re: Cal-Irvine preview

Postby 1975SHjoe » Sun Nov 24, 2019 2:01 pm

The Vegas line is UC Irvine -12.5 and the O/U 142.5 Lets hope we can surprise as Davis finds his stroke!!
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Re: Cal-Irvine preview

Postby uofdfan1983 » Sun Nov 24, 2019 6:00 pm


(sometimes you just gotta exhale and smile) :)
Tom Buysse
Classes of 1983 and 1987
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Re: Cal-Irvine preview

Postby ptctitan » Sun Nov 24, 2019 6:01 pm

Yes sir!
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Re: Cal-Irvine preview

Postby Resurget Cineribus » Sun Nov 24, 2019 6:05 pm

There we go Titan nation! Nice victory on a neutral court against a decent team
in Cal- Irvine. It helps when the 3s drop!!
Resurget Cineribus
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Re: Cal-Irvine preview

Postby upbasketballfan » Sun Nov 24, 2019 6:09 pm

Beat the line by over 20!
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Re: Cal-Irvine preview

Postby ptctitan » Sun Nov 24, 2019 6:20 pm

Good adjustment on defense for the second half. Held them to 30% FG% and 1-16 from 3 point range. Willy & Boe were strong on the boards in the 2nd half with 5 rebounds each.
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Re: Cal-Irvine preview

Postby titanmac » Sun Nov 24, 2019 7:32 pm

nice game all around. managed to stay close enough on the boards so that it wasn't a factor. onward!
In Greek mythology, the Titans were greater even than the gods. They ruled their universe with absolute power! Well that basketball court out there tonight, that's our universe. Let's rule it like Titans! (with apologies to coach boon)
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Re: Cal-Irvine preview

Postby 1975SHjoe » Sun Nov 24, 2019 11:13 pm

Nice 2.5 minute video game highlights at
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Re: Cal-Irvine preview

Postby NC Titan » Mon Nov 25, 2019 2:08 am

Held our own on the boards. Got killed in the paint. (Hurry up, MBMs.)

Thirteen assists on 23 made baskets. AD has six of those. Should improve when Maxwell can play.

I didn't see this game, but I saw the first two and really like our defense. Very quick, very active.
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