March 22, 2013
DAVIS, Calif. – Broken records, a remarkable turnaround and a memorable evening in front of a nationally televised audience are just a few of numerous highlights that took place throughout the 2012-13 season, the most successful one for UC Davis since its transition to Division I competition.
What a Difference a Year Makes
In just his second year at the helm of Aggie men’s basketball, head coach Jim Les, assistant coaches Kevin Nosek, Chris Davis Kyle Vogt and director of operations Mark Darnall turned UC Davis into one of the most formidable rosters in the Big West Conference.
With a +9 improvement in overall victories earned compared to last season, UC Davis truly earned its reputation as one of the most dangerous teams to face as the season progressed. By playing disciplined basketball on defense, and wearing opponents down by executing its offense with precision and patience on the other end of the court, the Aggies were able to set new program highs and finish with one of the top 10 win differentials in the nation.
In addition to recording a program-high 14 victories, this year’s roster also set new program marks by earning nine conference and six road victories. By factoring in another two wins earned on a neutral court, one can understand why a number of Big West coaches were less than thrilled to face a team that was equally as comfortable competing in front of its home fans at The Pavilion and on the road.
Due to the level of success experienced by this year’s team, ESPN chose to broadcast UC Davis’ home game against Long Beach State, the first-ever, nationally televised event from The Pavilion.
In front of a packed house of 5,670, the Aggies nearly pulled off the upset, falling to Long Beach State by a solitary point. Even though the final result did not end in UC Davis’ favor, both conference officials and network representatives were thrilled by the way UC Davis competed, providing an entertaining game for viewers across the country in the process.
Originally selected to participate in this phenomenal opportunity, the Aggies all but officially earned additional television appearances in the near future with the quality of basketball displayed that evening in front of one of the most passionate, and raucous crowds televised by ESPN2 this season.
"The energy from the crowd and atmosphere was amazing. I've been to a lot of arenas and a lot of places, this building took a backseat to nobody tonight," said Les following the game.
Ready to Take the Next Step
With only two players from this year’s group lost to graduation, 84 percent of the team’s offense will return next season. Included in this group, ranked No. 24 in the nation with a .473 field goal percentage when its season ended is:
- sophomore guard Corey Hawkins, an All-Big West First Team honoree, Big West Newcomer of the Year, UC Davis’ new individual scoring record holder (40 points scored at Hawai’i, 1/19/13) and inaugural Big West Conference scoring champion
- junior guard Ryan Sypkens, one of the nation’s most successful three-point shooters and the Aggies’ newest single season and career three-point record holder
- sophomore forward J.T. Adenrele, a well-rounded post player who more than doubled his scoring average from last season, possessed one of the highest field goal percentages and blocked shot averages in the conference from start to finish
- junior Josh Ritchart, a 6-9 guard/forward that will enter next season ranked No. 5 amongst active Big West scorers with a career total of 806 points
- junior guard Tyler Les; besides ending the season ranked No. 3 in the conference with a .446 three-point field goal percentage, this three-point specialist was adept at creating open looks and generating enough space to can 45 shots from distance throughout the year
- Darius Graham, a freshman guard who averaged nearly three assists per game backing up starting point guard Paolo Mancasola
- sophomore forward Clint Bozner, who was an efficient .531 from the field throughout his 20 games played during his inaugural season at UC Davis
- freshman Olivier-Paul Betu, another guard who shared time at the point during his 24 appearances on the court
- junior transfer Spencer Clayton, another low-post presence for the Aggies who averaged more than six minutes of action per appearance this year
- freshman forward Tyler Ott, another midrange-to-deep shooting threat who posted a .333 field goal percentage in his first season at UC Davis
- redshirt freshman Justin Dueck, a 6-8 forward who provides additional size and depth for the Aggies under the basket
Next Season Starts Now
As any member of the coaching staff attest, the program is losing two extraordinary student-athletes to graduation in Ryan Howley and Mancasola. In addition to representing the university in a first-class manner, both led by example and brought a level of poise and maturity to help the team evolve to a level previously unseen since becoming a Division I program in 2004.
Joining the Aggies next season is NLI signee Brynton Lemar, a combo guard from St. Augustine High School in San Diego, Calif. UC Davis men’s basketball fans will have an opportunity to witness his skills and talents in-person when he leads his boys’ basketball team in the CIF Division III State Championships on Friday, March 22, at Sleep Train Arena.
Forced to sit out the 2012-13 campaign due to NCAA transfer rules and regulations, junior forward Iggy Nujic (UTSA) and Avery Johnson (San Francisco) will add an additional layer of depth to a program that already has its sights set on becoming one of the Big West’s elite programs – a realistic notion that was unheard of prior to J. Les’ arrival, based on the results of this past season and the level of talent that will grace next year’s lineup.