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Davis, California

Wednesday, April 24, 2024

Men’s Team of the Quarter: Basketball

The UC Davis men’s basketball squad started off their season with high hopes, winning three of their first five contests.

Since that point, they struggled with injuries, absences and a general lack of size and will now be sitting out of the Big West Conference Tournament.

The Aggies took their first hit before the season even started, losing junior forward J.T. Adenrele to a season-ending knee injury. Adenrele averaged 12.6 points, 5.9 rebounds and 1.5 blocks per game in the 2012-13 season, while giving UC Davis a consistent big defensive presence.

With Adenrele out for the season and forward Ryan Howley graduated, the Aggies were already missing their top two rebounders from a year ago. When senior forward Josh Ritchart was lost for the year after nine games, they were left with too little size to compete in the Big West.

Ritchart was nothing short of dominant in his nine games with the Aggies, scoring 17.3 points per game on 63.2 percent shooting, while also averaging 6.6 rebounds per game.

His absence left a significant hole both on offense and on the boards, one that coach Les struggled to fill.

Much of the offensive pressure fell to junior guard Corey Hawkins, who performed admirably given the situation. He scored 18 points per game on 44 percent shooting, while dealing with much more significant defensive pressure on him every game. Senior guard Ryan Sypkens also averaged double-figure points, with 11.4 per game, while shooting 41.5 percent from beyond the arc.

Defense proved to be the bigger problem, as the Aggies were left with only three forwards after junior forward Iggy Nujic left the team for personal reasons. Sophomore forward Justin Dueck, who did not play in 11 out of the first 18 games of the season, played double-digit minutes in the last 13 games of the season. Likewise, the team relied more heavily on junior forward Clint Bozner who continued to improve throughout the year.

The good news for the Aggies is that they will only lose one player, Sypkens, to graduation and will get back both Adenrele and Ritchart. They also saw consistent production from two freshmen, guard Brynton Lemar and forward Georgi Funtarov, who were starting games late in the season. This pair should be even better for UC Davis next season with a year of Division I basketball under their belt.

The Aggies should have the size and experience to compete in the Big West in the 2014-15 season after an injury-plagued rebuilding year.



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