Teams: UC Davis vs. Saint Mary’s; at Santa Clara; at USC; vs. Duke; at Washington; at Sacramento State; at Pacific
Records: Aggies, 2-3 (0-0)
When: Dec. 6 to Jan. 5
Who to Watch: You can dance or you can’t. You can paint or you can’t. You can shoot or you can’t. UC Davis senior shooting guard Cortney French can flat-out shoot.
The Stockton native recently garnered Big West Player of the Week honors after posting career numbers in the first week of this young season. This is the first such award given to French in her long history here as an Aggie and a well-earned one at that.
French came out firing in the season opener for the Aggies, scoring a career-high 23 points en route to an action-packed overtime win against Navy.
The team would go on to win the Houston Baptist Husky Tournament later that weekend and French took home the MVP award, boasting a .471 three-point percentage, establishing herself as a team leader and a force to be reckoned with in the Big West.
As a team that is very young, having graduated several starters from last year, the Aggies will be looking to French as one of their offensive leaders this season.
Did you know? All is jolly for the UC Davis women’s basketball team in the month of December.
Over the past three seasons, the Aggies have combined for a phenomenal .65 winning percentage in the month of December. Stats or superstition, it would seem that Santa has come early for the Aggies as of late, providing solid play for coach Jennifer Gross right from tipoff.
December is the first full month of competition for the Aggies. After intense training during the summer and fall, there is nothing more satisfying than seeing hard work translate to wins as a team.
The Aggies experienced their most successful season as a Div. I program two years ago, perhaps spurred by the confidence of a five-and-two record during December.
Preview: This UC Davis team may be much younger and less experienced compared to last year’s squad, but their maturity and basketball IQ appears to reach beyond their years.
Despite their age, the Aggies appear to have a style of play that is very efficient, showing great poise and resilience in several stellar efforts already this season.
“I have been so thrilled with all five of the incoming freshman,” Gross said. “We felt when we recruited them that they would have the opportunity to contribute right away and they have all proven that they are more than ready to do that.”
In a sport that loves to focus its attention on acrobatic offensive moves and unstoppable shooting sprees, the Aggies have concentrated on winning games through a well-executed team effort approach.
“That’s the fun part about this group,” Gross said. “Every single person has a different role from what it has been in the past. It is amazing. This group of people we have on this team is 100 percent about the team first and that’s all we can ask for.”
Coach Gross has pieced together a defense that not only minimizes opponent baskets, but also forces turnovers, which translate into UC Davis points.
“We play a very high-octane defensive, where we’re flying around and trapping the ball,” Gross said. “In order to do that you have to be very focused and play with a lot of energy.”
The Aggies scored 33 points off turnovers against Houston Baptist just over a week ago, totaling 19 steals to Houston Baptist’s eight.
UC Davis will face Saint Mary’s and Santa Clara University before moving onto the Women of Troy Classic, hosted by USC on Dec. 21 to 22. The Aggies will face off with USC and possibly No. 4 Duke later in the tournament.
“We know as a group, that if we are going to be as good as we can be, we are going to have to be great defensively and we are excited about that challenge,” Gross said.
— PK Hattis