Teams: UC Davis vs. Idaho, at UCLA, at Cal State Fullerton, vs. UC Riverside, vs. UC Irvine
Records: Aggies, 1-6; Vandals, 5-2, Titans, 3-2; Highlanders, 3-4; Anteaters, 0-6.
Where: The Pavilion; Honda Center, Anaheim, Calif; Titan Gym, Fullerton, Calif; The Pavilion, The Pavilion
When: Saturday, 2 p.m.; Dec. 17, noon; December 29, 7:05 p.m.; Jan. 5, 7 p.m.; Jan. 7, 7 p.m.
Who to watch: Freshman point guard Tyrell Corbin has brought quickness and energy to the UC Davis backcourt.
The Columbia, S.C. native has 24 assists on the season and is averaging 7.6 points per game.
If he is able to limit his turnovers – he has 23 through seven games– Corbin has the potential to become one of the top guards in the Big West Conference.
“I have to take more of a leader roll [because of the injuries to Eddie Miller and Ryan Sypkens,” Corbin said. “As far as getting other guys shots, I have to get in the paint more and get more opportunities.”
Did you know? With Cal State Northridge suspended for postseason play this season, the Aggies are guaranteed a spot in the 2012 Big West Conference Tournament this season.
Preview: While many of us are studying for finals or enjoying our month long winter break, the men’s basketball team will be hard at work, preparing for a crucial stretch of games.
Between now and the beginning of winter quarter, the Aggies will play in eight contests, five of them on the road.
With UC Davis sitting at 1-6 on the year, these games have the potential to turn the season around.
“Guys can slip into getting used to losing,” Head Coach Jim Les said. “That’s the path of least resistance [and] we’re attempting to change that culture. To win it takes putting yourself in uncomfortable situations. It’s not easy.”
The final home game of the 2011 calendar year will be this Saturday when Idaho tips off against the Aggies.
The team then begins its longest road trip of the year, playing at Hawaii before traveling to Los Angeles for a marquee matchup against Pac-12 opponent UCLA. After the Bruins, the Aggies will play two more away games before beginning conference play on the road against Cal State Fullerton.
The Big West Conference schedule continues the following weekend, with games in the Pavilion against UC Riverside and UC Irvine.
While Les has been stressing the team’s defensive mentality, recent games have shown that the injuries to starters Sypkens and Miller have affected the Aggies’ ability to score and be productive on the offensive end.
Josh Ritchart and Harrison DuPont are the only two players averaging double digit scoring per game, averaging 15.6 and 12.8 points respectively.
Sypkens was averaging 14.5 points per game, but a knee injury seems to be threatening his participation this season. The team has not released any diagnosis.
Les called the senior Miller’s status “day-to-day” and it is likely that he could return to action at some point over the break.
“When you have guys out your margin of error shrinks,” Les said. “Our execution has to be better, our free throw shooting has to be better [and] we have to finish our opportunities.”
Les also talked about why he is undaunted by the prospect of five consecutive away games.
“On the road it’s a you against the world mentality,” he said. “We want to make that by the time we get to the Big West Conference we create a bond and mentality that is going to allow us every night to compete to win games.
“That’s the goal, to get ready for the conference season.”
— Caelum Shove