Oct. 31, 2012
DAVIS, Calif. - The UC Davis men's basketball team will make its first appearance of the 2012-13 season when the Aggies host UC Santa Cruz on Thursday night at The Pavilion in the first of two exhibition games preceding the Nov. 9 opener at Oklahoma State.
The Aggies men's game, which tips off at 7 p.m., follows the UC Davis women's exhibition matchup against Redlands that begins at 4:45 p.m. Admission for both games is free.
The men's team also begins its second season on KSAC (105.5 FM) which will air all Aggie games this season.
The Aggie men will make their first local appearance after playing five games in Italy and France this summer during its foreign tour which provided seven new players an opportunity to mesh in a competition with six returners. UC Davis went 4-1 on the trip, but more importantly, was able to build its team through the competition as well as key practices leading up to the trip.
UC Davis welcomes back its top two three-point shooters from last year in juniors guard/forward Josh Ritchart and guard Tyler Les who last season combined for 151 treys. Les just missed a single-season school record, making 82, while Ritchart canned 69. Les, who tied a school record by making eight at San Jose State, was named the 35th-best shooter Tuesday on CBSSports.com's list of the nation's top 50 shooters while Ritchart was recognized earlier this fall by College Sports Madness on its preseason All-Big West second team.
Forward J.T. Adenrele, who started 16 games as a true freshman last season and responded by shooting 65 percent from the field over the final six games, returns to the lineup. He also blocked a team-high 24 shots last season. Senior guard Paolo Mancasola is also back after posting a 1.8 assist/turnover ratio which was helped by an eight-game stretch where he had 32 assists to just seven turnovers while averaging 27 minutes per game.
Second-year head coach Jim Les is also excited about guards Ryan Sypkens and Ryan Howley making their way back onto the floor after suffering injuries that sent them to the sidelines. Sypkens, from nearby Franklin High School, averaged 14.5 ppg. and had 14 three-pointers over his first four games before going down with a knee injury and not returning. Howley started the first 18 games for the Aggies and led them with a 5.6 rpg. average before a knee injury early in a game at Pacific ended his season.
Those returners will join several talented newcomers, including two players who have a year in the Aggies' system. Guard Corey Hawkins, who set an Arizona prep record for points (3,164) at Estrella High School, transferred to UC Davis from Arizona State after his freshman season and sat out last year due to NCAA transfer rules. He'll play his first game on Hamilton Court, joining 6-foot-8 redshirt freshman Justin Dueck.
Guard Darius Graham from Sacramento High School, and guard Olivier Paul-Betu from Montreal Canada, will join forward Tyler Ott from Desert Hills High School in Utah, to form an exciting trio of freshman in the lineup, Transfer post player Spencer Clayton from Mt Hood Community College in Oregon and 6-8 forward Clint Bozner from L.A. Trade-Tech are also in their first year with UC Davis and will give the Aggies quality depth inside the paint.
The Aggies and UC Santa Cruz met last year during the regular season with UC Davis rallying in December for an 84-78 win on Hamilton Court. The Banana Slugs, who were 12-10 last year, are coached by former Aggie assistant coach Ron DuBois.
It's the first of two exhibition games for UC Davis which hosts Menlo College on Tuesday. The Oaks are coached by Jonathan Surface, a member of the Aggies' 1998 NCAA Division II Championship team. Admission for that game is also free.