UC Davis basketball conducts first official practice

Oct. 2, 2017


UC Davis student-athletes and coaches found ways to give back to the community, honored by the University's Community Service Resource Center for their part in contributing more than 100,000 hours to helping those in need through various projects.

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DAVIS, Calif. -
The familiar sounds of sneakers squeaking and basketballs bouncing will now fill Hickey Gymnasium on a regular basis since UC Davis basketball conducted its first official workout of the 2017-18 season. Monday’s practice also provided an example of a daily routine that will soon become commonplace throughout the upcoming season for this year’s roster.

“It’s time to enjoy playing basketball at the Division I level, and attending classes at school of this caliber,” said junior guard TJ Shorts II, who will don a UC Davis jersey for the first time in his career this season.

Coming off last year’s Big West Tournament championship and the program’s inaugural appearance at the NCAA Tournament, this year’s squad knows that every team on its 31-game slate will play their best basketball whenever they face the Aggies. This is exactly why the coaching staff wasted no time in preparing everyone for the rigors of the upcoming season.

“You can tell the coaching staff is ramping up the intensity, it feels great to get things started and begin working towards our first game,” said Shorts II.

“It was nice getting everybody back on the floor knowing that this is the time to start focusing on the upcoming year,” added senior guard Michael Onyebalu.

After hosting Bethesda in a home exhibition on Nov. 7, UC Davis will officially open the 2017-18 campaign with a five-game road swing that begins at Northern Colorado six days later. Starting with their season opener, the Aggies will play three road games within a six-day timespan, face Sacramento State in another rivalry game slated to take place inside the Golden 1 Center — the state-of-the-art downtown home of the Sacramento Kings — and compete the first of two road games against Pac-12 competition before playing its first game inside the Pavilion.

Taking place between those two road games at Washington and Washington State is the team’s Nov. 29 home opener against Northern Colorado — one of two home-at-home series taking place this year.

As has been the case every season throughout the Jim Les era, team defense was the focal point of Monday’s practice. Now entering his seventh year at the helm of the program, the Aggies have consistently lead the league in numerous statistical categories, and built a national reputation as one of the toughest teams to face due to the team’s stifling defense, and unrivaled work ethic.

“Consistency is something that this programs takes great pride in accomplishing on a daily basis. If we start with this on the defensive end, that will help our offense succeed as well,” Onyebalu added.

Since five members from last year’s squad graduated in the spring, coveted spots in the starting lineup, and rotation, are up for grabs. Starting with Monday’s practice, expect a fierce battle since the team’s eight returners, five transfers and three true freshmen are all ready to make an immediate impact, starting with the first game of the season at Northern Colorado, and help this program continue to grow.

“You can tell guys arrived to practice locked in and ready to work,” Shorts II said.

Preseason workouts also provide the upperclassmen to embrace their new roles as on-court coaches, helping Coach Les and his staff teach and explain the nuances of the team’s offense and defensive schemes. With a large number of newcomers joining the program this summer, Onyebalu, and his returning teammates, are more that eager to share advice and tips to accelerate everyone’s learning curve.

Said Onyebalu, “The best advice I can give the newcomers is to trust the process and focus on the little things since it is the little things, both in the classroom and on the court that ultimately lead to success.”

In recent years, basketball fans have watched the Aggies win two championships and post two undefeated home records. Secure your seats for another exciting year of basketball by clicking here and purchasing your season tickets. In addition to the 13 games taking place on Hamilton Court, a ticket for this year’s rivalry game at the Golden 1 Center is included with every seat purchased.

Directly impact the lives of potential, and current UC Davis basketball student-athletes, by joining the Aggie Roundtable.

With support from this select group of insiders, the men’s basketball program can expand its recruiting efforts to find prospects who will thrive at the sixth-ranked public school in the nation, compete at a championship level and represent the University in a first-class manner as one of its ambassadors.

Contact Liz Martin (Director of Development) at (530) 574-8623 or emartin@ucdavis.edu to find out how you can join this exclusive club!

Providing a small-town community feel while providing a world-class academic experience, UC Davis is home to more than 37,000 students and centrally located between San Francisco, Lake Tahoe, and the Napa Valley. 

The No. 6-ranked public university in the nation, according to the Wall Street Journal, offers nearly 100 graduate programs and more than 100 academic majors across four colleges and six professional schools, ranking among the world and nation's best in numerous disciplines, including veterinary science, agriculture, and plant and animal programs.