Teams: UC Davis vs. Sacramento State
Records: Aggies, 1-4; Hornets, 2-1
Where: The Pavilion
When: Tonight at 7 p.m.
Who to watch: Sophomore forward Josh Ritchart led all scorers last Friday against Stanford with 19 points.
The 6’9” Auburn, Calif. native was three for five from behind the three-point arc and also grabbed four rebounds in the contest
Ritchart called the game against the Cardinal a learning experience and stressed that UC Davis must continue to develop as a defensive minded basketball team.
“We have to be able to bring it on every possession,” he said. “We have to continue to bring it on defense [and] make sure we compete all the time.”
Did you know? The Aggies beat Sacramento State 61-54 when they played last year in Sacramento.
Preview: Tonight’s contest against the Hornets will give fans their first chance to see how the Aggies fare against similar level competition.
In its two home games so far this year UC Davis has played Division III UC Santa Cruz and unbeaten Pac-12 opponent Stanford.
Tonight, Sacramento State will provide a level of play similar to what the Aggies will see in the Big West Conference later this year.
Should they play as they did in last week’s four-point win over UC Santa Cruz, the Aggies will likely lose. On the other side, Sacramento State will not be able to dominate UC Davis physically as the Cardinal were able to do when they came to the Pavilion.
The Aggies this week will look to further integrate key players who are returning from injury.
Sophomore forward Harrison DuPont missed the preseason due to a concussion but is now back to full health and was in the lineup for both games last week.
Junior guard Ryan Sypkens sprained his knee in practice last week and did not play in the last game. His status for tonight’s game is unknown.
Senior guard Eddie Miller has yet to fully recover from a leg injury and has only started in one game this year, against UC Santa Cruz.
The former California player would have liked to have an impact against Stanford, but tweaked his leg early in the game and was limited to four minutes.
“There were some unique lineups [against Stanford],” Ritchart said. “We haven’t been playing with each other too long with the new guys coming back [from injury] so we have to keep working at that and keep gelling as a team.”
As always, the key to the Aggies success will come on the defensive end of the floor.
More than anything, coach Jim Les is challenging his players to get play hard, physical and up-tempo basketball on every possession.
“The way they go at each other [in practice] and battle and dive on the floor and they’re physical, that’s what it takes at this level to have success,” Les said. “When you step between the lines you’ve got to change that ‘I’m a nice guy’ attitude.
“We as a staff have to bring that out of them.”
— Caelum Shove