Oct. 14, 2011
DAVIS, Calif. - With nine returning letterwinners and amid lots of anticipation, the UC Davis men's basketball season opened preparations for the 2011-12 season on Friday night with its first practice under new head coach Jim Les.
The Aggies practiced at 7 p.m. at Upper Hickey Gym and were scheduled to go through drills on Saturday and Sunday before taking their first scheduled day off on Monday.
UC Davis is preparing for its season opener on Nov. 11 against Southern Utah at the Basketball Traveler's Classic at San Diego State. The Aggies will also face Bryant University and the host Aztecs before returning for a three-game homestand starting on Nov. 15 against UC Santa Cruz. They'll host Stanford on Nov. 18 and Sacramento State on Nov. 22 in two other highly anticipated games early in the schedule.
"It's getting a little bit colder outside and it could only mean one thing, basketball season is close and we're all happy about that," said Les.
Les joined the Aggie program in May after a successful six-year tenure at Bradley University in Illinois which included 154 wins and five postseason appearances including a historic trip to the 2006 NCAA Sweet 16 after upsetting Kansas and Pittsburgh in the first two rounds.
The Aggies return nine letterwinners including 6-foot-5 senior guard Eddie Miller and 6-4 junior guard Ryan Sypkens. Miller, a transfer from Cal, made his debut with UC Davis last season, averaging 12.5 ppg and 4.5 rebounds. He also canned 41 three-pointers.
Sypkens, from nearby Elk Grove, is also back after starting 21 games and averaging 9.7 ppg. He led the Aggies with 66 treys and ended his sophomore season with back-to-back 22-point efforts in the final two games.
Sophomore Mike Kurtz, a 7-0 post from Roseville, also returns with significant starting experience after getting the nod in 13 games and responding with a team-high 26 blocked shots.
Other letterwinners returning are sophomore Josh Ritchart (G/F, 6-9, 215), last season's Big West Freshman of fhe Year who contributed 7.9 ppg, Ryan Howley (G, 6-5, 195), senior Ryan Silva (G, 5-10, 175), sophomore Tyler Les (G, 6-2, 190), sophomore Alex Tiffin (F, 6-9, 200) and senior Adam Malik (F, 6-8, 210) .
They'll be joined on the active roster by seven players including sophomore Harrison Dupont (F, 6-5, 215) who sat out last season after transferring from The Citadel where he was named to the Southern Conference All-Freshman Team.
Junior Paolo Mancasola (G, 6-1, 180) joins the program after two standout seasons at Shasta College, freshman Tyrell Corbin (G, 6-0, 176) was named "Mr. Basketball" in Utah last season and freshman John Adenrele (F, 6-7, 230) averaged 21.3 ppg for Oakmont High School during his senior season. Dominic Lippi (G, 6-0, 176) and Justin Dueck (F, 6-8, 230) are from Alameda and San Jose, respectively, and round out a talented freshman class.
Corey Hawkins (G, 6-3, 190), who recently transferred from Arizona State, will not compete this year due to NCAA transfer rules, but gives UC Davis an exciting player in the wings.
Les also assembled a talented coaching staff including longtime Aggie assistant Kevin Nosek, Chris Davis - most recently at Providence College in the Big East Conference - and former UC Davis player Gus Argenal who spent the last three seasons at Chico State.
"At this stage in my career I love the prospect of putting together a unit, putting together a team and mentoring these young guys on the floor and off the floor," said Les. "I'm excited about this group's ability to have success."
The Aggies will play a 12-game home season, eight of those games in the Big West Conference. Besides hosting Stanford and Sacramento State, exciting road games include Hawai'i (Dec. 11) and UCLA (Dec. 17, Honda Center).
UC Davis will host Menlo College in an exhibition on Nov. 4