Monday, January 15, 2007

Sports: Anteater basketball watch

As a left-coaster, it has been great to see that the Pac-10 looks to be having an exciting year.

I never bought into the UCLA as #1 hoopla.

The reality is that the Bruins had to replace three key starters from last year's magical team. The fact that they are doing so well is a tribute to the team concept defense Coach Howland has the team buying into.

On the offense side, does anyone think anybody on UCLA is a lottery pick? For that matter, anybody think anybody on this team is a middle-to-late first rounder? Maybe Afflalo.

But the other starting four? Don't see any of them going NBA unless they get drastically better than they are now.

In any case, go Bruins!

But the title of my post is about the Anteaters!

It looks to be a so-so year for the Anteaters with them likely to finish in the middle of the pack of the Big West.

Whelliston has this analysis at ESPN.com from January 5, 2007 ...
Big West: Long Beach State
Three-time defending champ Pacific might have finally fallen off (considering its 5-9 record). So who's poised to take the throne? Well, preseason surprise UC Santa Barbara has won 10 games and ranks league-best in field goal shooting (49.5 percent) and offensive efficiency (1.046 points per possession) -- and strangled the offense of a very good Fresno State team on Dec. 6 in a 70-42 Gaucho gouging.

But when there's one bid to the Dance at stake, matchups are everything, and it's impossible to ignore Long Beach State's 101-65 slap-around of UCSB on Jan. 4, the 49ers' seventh straight win and a showcase for LBSU's superior toughness as well as the team's main man, 6-1 senior guard Aaron Nixon (35 points against UCSB, 17.1 ppg overall). Granted, there's so much trouble in the LBC on the offensive end -- Long Beach barely broaches the 40 percent mark on field goals -- but the defense (a low .951 points allowed per possession) and rebounding (35.8 rpg, 35th-best in D-I) should help the Niners carry the Big West in the end.
UCI recently stunned Pacific at Pacific in a huge way.

Big West fans are also keeping an eye on the Titans. They play up tempo basketball which should be an interesting match up against Long Beach State. That game will take place this Thursday and could set the mark for the team to beat going into the Big West Post-Season Tournament.

Irvine faces the Fullerton Titans this Saturday and will be a good test to see if the Anteaters will be in the upper-half of the league or not.

Go 'Eaters, zot, zot, zot!

UPDATE: UCI took care of business against the Highlanders setting up a big game for them against Fullerton on Saturday. Long Beach State outscored Fullerton thus taking the mantle of team to beat in the Big West.

UPDATE: Fullerton hit a buzzer beater 3-pointer against the Eaters on Saturday night. 8-(

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