The UC Davis men’s basketball team started their 2014-15 season off with a 10-0 run against Division II opponent Holy Names. From that point on, the Aggies held off a feistier-than-expected opponent, winning by a final score of 57-42.
“I think we have to come out there and not let up,” said senior guard Corey Hawkins after the game. “We went through stretches where we played good on defense and then we played stretches where they went on runs.”
The inconsistent play may have had something to do with the fact that the Aggies were working four players into the rotation who did not play a minute last season. Junior forward Josh Fox and sophomore center Neil Monson transferred to UC Davis, while senior guard Tyler Les and junior forward J.T. Adenrele returned after missing all of last year. Additionally, senior forward Josh Ritchart came back after falling to a season-ending surgery early last year.
Despite having to manage a number of new players, head coach Jim Les was thrilled with the opportunity to add depth to his team by rotating different players in. “[I like] the fact that we can continue to come at teams in waves. We can ride the hot hand, we can encourage them and they’ve been doing it, playing really hard for six or seven minutes, come out and now we have another guy coming in with great energy.”
The Aggies offense played outstanding, often using their new big men to get easy baskets around the rim. The team shot an even 50 percent in the game, including making seven of 16 attempts beyond the arc. They were led by Hawkins and Ritchart who had 12 and 13 points respectively. Hawkins added six assists, six rebounds and three steals. Fox was the only Aggie to shoot under 45 percent, making just two of his six shots.
Defensively, UC Davis was able to hold Holy Names to 32.1 percent shooting, while only allowing their opponent to shoot four free throws. The team forced 18 turnovers and came up with 13 steals. Meanwhile, their new and returning big men were able to contest almost every shot at the rim. Fox, in particular, made his presence known of the defensive end where he was a disruptive and energetic force throughout the game.
Despite their newfound depth in the frontcourt, the Aggies struggled to rebound the ball. Ritchart and Hawkins had seven and six boards respectively, but no other Aggie finished with more than 3. The team finished with only three offensive rebounds and 26 total despite a clear size advantage. Meanwhile, they allowed Holy Names to grab 15 offensive rebounds and 37 rebounds total. While their defense was able to limit the meaningfulness of these possessions, rebounding is a clear area of concern going forward.
“We held them to low 30’s shooting the ball, but gave up 15 rebounds which means that you are spending more time on defense,” said Les. “Those are things that we have the ability to clean up and we will before we head on the road.”
The Aggies will now head onto the road for a two game trip before returning to play at home on Nov. 26 against Utah State.