UC Davis head coach looks back on the Aggies' 10-day trip to Europe and gives his thoughts on the players and their performances.
By Jim Les, Head Coach
The UC Davis men's basketball team went 4-1 on its recent foreign tour and the Aggies have their sights set on turning around the fortunes of the program. Seven new players, who either missed significant time last season or were not on the roster, combined with a solid core of returnees provided a foundation of success on the trip.
Three of the four leading scorers in Europe were not in the scorebook when the season ended last year, and were led by Corey Hawkins (transfer from Arizona State) who averaged 19.9 points per game, Ryan Sypkens (who missed all but four games) averaged 10.1 ppg., and Ryan Howley (who missed the last 13 games) scored 9.8 ppg.. They joined returning leading scorer Josh Ritchart (13.2 ppg.) to provide balanced firepower and help the Aggies average 81.2 points and over 10 made three-pointers per game.
The Aggies rebounded by committee. Three players (Hawkins, Ritchart, and Howley) averaged more than 6.0 per game. Also noteworthy was the post play from returning sophomore J.T. Adenrele and junior college transfer (Mt.Hood CC) Spencer Clayton. The two combined for 11 ppg. and 7.7 rpg.
The team defense also showed much improvement from a year ago led by returning guards Paolo Mancasolo, Tyler Les (last years leading three-point shooter), and freshmen Darius Graham and Olivier Betu. The Aggies held their European opponents to 39.4 percent shooting while forcing nearly 21 turnovers per game.
The coaching staff, along with the team, understand there is still much work to be done but the trip provided enough of a sampling to have ALL in "Aggie-land" excited about the upcoming season!
The UC Davis coaches provided brief recaps of the Aggies' play following each game)
GAME SCHEDULE AND RESULTS (most recent game listed first)
Tuesday, Sept. 4 - UC DAVIS 93, Cagnes-sur-Mer 63 (Nice, France)
By Jim Les, Head Coach
CAGNES-SUR-MER, France - The Aggies won their final exhibition game in Europe, beating Cagnes-sur-Mer 93-63 on Tuesday night. The Aggies had four players in double figures led by Corey Hawkins with 29, Josh "The Sheriff" Ritchart with 16, Ryan Howley with 14, and Ryan Sypkens with 11. End-of-the-trip "legs" led to a slim 38-31 halftime edge, but the defense tightened significantly in the third quarter, leading to fastbreak opportunities that opened up the game and a 68-48 advantage heading into the fourth. The Aggies also maintained a significant rebounding advantage (51 to 35) for the game led by Ritchart and Darius Graham with seven rebounds each, and Sypkens who added six.
Overall, it was a great trip for the Aggies. A "new" team had a special opportunity to travel to some spectacular sites, take in new cultural experiences, and grow together as a unit. This team showed some promising potential for the upcoming season. They grew as players and began developing an identity as a team - both on and off the floor- that will pay huge dividends come Oct. 13th and the start of official practice.
Monday, Sept. 3 - UC DAVIS 108, Golfe Juan 70 (Golfe Juan, France)
By Mark Darnall, Director of Basketball Operations
GOLFE-JUAN, France - The UC Davis men's basketball team rebounded from a tough loss on Saturday to record a 108-70 win against Golfe Juan on Monday. The Aggies never looked back after a 40-17 run in the second quarter. Junior Ryan Sypkens and senior Ryan Howley sparked the second quarter run by combining to score the Aggies' first 16 points of the quarter. This game marked the biggest scoring punch by UC Davis on its foreign tour through Italy and France.
The Aggies had a slow start as Golfe Juan jumped out to a 9-4 lead and ended the first quarter leading 20-19. Corey Hawkins helped keep the Aggies close scoring 12 of his game-high 29 points in the quarter. However, this would change as Sypkens and Howley pushed UC Davis ahead at the start of the second quarter with help of three assists from Paolo Mancasola and two from Darius Graham. They would lead a scoring charge that totaled 40 points in a 10-minute span.
The hot shooting would continue in the third and fourth quarters as the Aggies finished the game shooting 53% (39 of 73) from the field. Hawkins, Josh Ritchart, and Sypkens combined to make 12 of 19 three-point attempts. Tyler Les added two great half-court passes that would help excite the Aggie bench. UC Davis was also efficient from the line making 15 of their 16 attempts. They went on to lead 89-56 at the end of the third quarter and finished the game 108-70.
The rebounding margin was won by the Aggies 41-32. They were led by Howley and Ritchart who each had seven. Sypkens chipped in from the guard spot with six. UC Davis also redeemed itself from beyond the arc going 15 for 31. Hawkins lead a balanced scoring attack with 29 points with Sypkens (18), Ritchart (15), Spencer Clayton (11), and Howley (10) each following in double figures.
The Aggies sit at 3-1 on the foreign tour and will end their trip with a fifth and final game against Cagnes Sur Mer (France) at 11 a.m. (Pacific) on Tuesday.
Saturday, Sept. 1 - Don Bosco Livorno 80, UC DAVIS 71 (Livorno, Italy)
By Kyle Vogt, Assistant Coach
LIVORNO, Italy - Travel legs finally caught up with the UC Davis men's basketball team as it fell 80-71 to Don Bosco Livorno on Saturday night. The Aggies struggled from the floor, shooting just 5-for-35 from three-point range and 34 percent overall. Corey Hawkins led the Aggies with 26 points and seven rebounds, and Ryan Howley contributed 13 points in the losing effort.
After the Aggies scored the first basket of the game on a Howley layup, Don Bosco scored the next 12 points, jumping out to a 28-18 lead at the end of the first quarter. Don Bosco extended that lead to 36-20 before UC Davis closed the halftime margin to 43-33.
An emotional group coming out of the locker room, the Aggies closed the Don Bosco lead to just four at 62-58 heading into the fourth quarter. A J.T. Adenrele block led to a Corey Hawkin's fastbreak layup, cutting the lead to one with 8:32 remaining. Don Bosco countered with five straight points of its own, extending the lead back to six.
The Aggies were not done yet as big plays from Olivier Betu and Darius Graham kept UC Davis in the game. In the end, Don Bosco made several free throws to hold on for the 80-71 victory.
The Aggies also received strong contributions from Josh Ritchart (10 points, 9 rebounds) and Spencer Clayton (6 points, 4 rebounds). UC Davis is now 2-1 during the Italy portion of its European tour. The team will depart for France on Sunday morning where the Aggies will play Golfe Juan on Monday.
Friday, Aug. 31 - UC DAVIS 84, Livorno Military 38 (Camp Darby, Livorno, Italy)
Using a fast breaking offense and a stingy defense, the Aggies beat the Livorno Military Team 84-38 to improve to 2-0 in Italy.
By Chris Davis, Assistant Coach
LIVORNO, Italy - Controlling the game from the opening tip, the Aggies raced out to a 15-4 lead following back-to-back threes by Corey Hawkins, a three by Olivier-Paul Betu and back-to-back threes by Josh Ritchart. Livorno Military called a timeout and switched to a 2-3 zone, but that did not slow down UC Davis as its lead extended to 55-24 at the half.
Josh Ritchart led a balanced scoring attack with 15 points, Darius Graham had 11, Ryan Sypkens finished with 10 points and J.T. Adenrele added nine. The Aggies received strong contributions off the bench from Tyler Ott (5 pts. and 5 rebounds), Justin Dueck (6 pts. and 5 rebounds) and Spencer Clayton (9 pts. and 4 rebounds).
For the second consecutive game UC Davis shot the basketball well, shooting 49% (30-62) from the floor and 31.5% (10-33) from three-point range. The Aggies were 15-for-15 from the free throw line.
In contrast, The Aggies defense held Livorno Military to 29.5% (16-53) from the floor and 23.5% (4-18) from three-point range and limited Livorno Military to just eight free throw attempts (2-8) for the game.
UC Davis held a 45-27 edge on the boards. Corey Hawkins led all rebounders with nine while Ryan Howley added five.
The Aggies will have a quick turnaround as they face Don Bosco Livorno (Livorno, Italy) on Saturday. It will be our final game in Italy before we head to southern France.
On Friday morning, we checked out of the Leonardo Da Vinci Hotel in Rome and headed 376 kilometers north through Tuscany to Livorno. Prior to our game, we had the opportunity to give a clinic to a group of local children from the base. Our coaches and players were touched by the children's enthusiasm and excitement to interact with U.S. college basketball players.
Following the game, our players had a chance to visit with several of the Military players and their families, exchanging stories and most importantly thanking them for their service. Our troops service and commitment to defending U.S. freedom allows our student-athletes the opportunity to attend college, play basketball and pursue whatever career path they choose. What an unbelievable experience for our student-athletes, coaches and our entire travel party to visit a U.S. Military base and express our sincere gratitude.
Wednesday, Aug. 29 - UC DAVIS 71, Latina Basket 68
Aggies Race To Early Lead In Victory
By Kevin Nosek, Assistant Coach
ROME, Italy - The road to success began tonight in Rome. Facing a talented and veteran laden Latina Basket team, the UC Davis men's basketball team pulled off a 71-68 victory. It should be noted that 71-68 is the `official score' but UC Davis really won the game 74-68 as a first-quarter 3-pointer was not added to the scoreboard. I am positive this is the case, as I was the `official scorer' for UC Davis!
The Aggies started hot as Ryan Sypkens made a first-posession three-pointer that ignited the Aggie offense in the opening minutes. Sypkens was followed by a turnaround jumper from J.T. Adenrele, a floater down the lane from Corey Hawkins, a three-pointer by Hawkins, and was capped by another three-pointer from Sypkens. Racing off to a 13-3 lead (althought the score read 10-3) and there was no arguing it, Latina Basket got a quick timeout to regroup. Battling back with tough physcical defense Latina Basket made a trio of three-pointers itself to close the gap at the quarter to 21-16.
The hot shooting continued in the second quarter as Tyler Les and Josh Ritchart benefited from the dribble penetration of Paolo Mancasola and Darius Graham to net three-pointers as the the leaded extended back to 10. The half closed with a steal and breakaway dunk by Ryan Howley as the Aggies went to the locker room up 38-30.
Coming out of the half Coach Les designed a lob for J.T. Adenrele. J.T. brought the crowd of 400 to its feet as he thunder-dunked a pinpoint pass from Corey Hawkins. Taking the 40-30 lead was the highlight of the quarter as Latina Basket played really physical for the next 9:30 and the Aggies failed to connect on a few open looks. With 2:37 to go in the third quarter Latina Basket took their first and only lead at 49-48, only to be matched by a 6-0 UC Davis run to finish the quarter, 54-49.
The Aggies played their best and most inspired basketball of the game in the fourth quarter as they built an 11-point lead with solid contributions from Olivier Betu, Darius Graham and Spencer Clayton. The three newcomers made their presence felt defensively, on the backboard and at the free throw line. Latina Basket made a final push but stingy defense and the offensively talented Aggies held on for a 71-68 (really 74-68!) win.
While the Aggies shot 44% from the field and a blistering 46% from three-point territory the real pride comes in holding an outstanding shooting team to 36% from the floor and 28% from the three-point line. Coach Les has been emphasizing defense since the team began training for the tour and the results are starting to come in.
Tomorrow the the Aggies will enjoy Rome and a private tour of the Colosseum before heading to their next destination, Viareggio, on Friday.