I always figured there would be a day that this unfortunate post would be written, but I was hoping it wouldn’t be so soon.
Life has led me out of Irvine and to a busier schedule as I pursue further schooling. I no longer have the time to devote to blogging routinely, and I would rather carbon freeze Zotcubed than to put forth a shoddy effort that would result in sparse updates, old information, and little insightful analysis.
That being said, I am still hopeful of finding another contributing writer who would be able to help Anteater blogging expand past a one-man project. Whenever that may happen, expect Zotcubed to come out of retirement bigger and better than before.
Last but not least, I want to thank all the faithful readers here who have made this blog a worthwhile endeavor. I still strongly believe in UCI’s future (especially with the new high-profile additions to the Big West), both academically and athletically, and you all are a big part of that. So cheers to that.
Until next time.
After defeating the murderer’s row of UCLA, USC and Stanford in the MPSF Tournament, utilizing two stirring 0-2 comebacks against their familiar Southern Californian foes, UCI won their third national title in six years by defeating Penn State and USC (once again) in the NCAA Tournament. Clearly, it doesn’t get much better than this. UCI men’s volleyball led by the immortal John Speraw has established themselves as a dynasty, with no signs of letting up.
What an epic way for four-time All-American Carson Clark to end his UCI career. Shoutouts to setter Chris Austin, the first African-American starting setter in Final Four history, absolute stud Kevin Tillie, freshman sensation Michael Brinkley, and the rest of the cast on this year’s title-winning squad. The sky is the limit for this group.
Editor’s note: I apologize for the lack of recent posts. Currently in China without access to typical sport-watching methods and dealing with the great firewall against free speech on the internet has added up to an embarassing lack of posts. This men’s team deserved better coverage on this site; I’m just glad they were able to take the cake with the support of an apparently racous Galen Center. Way to go ’Eater Nation. Y’all are the bee’s knees.
Some basketball recruiting news while John Speraw gets his team ready for the MPSF Tournament beginning tomorrow…
- Coach Russell Turner and his staff has added a true center to next year’s class with the commitment of center Conor Clifford. Unofficial affirmation from Clifford’s father and various message board rumors were confirmed on Monday when UC Irvine and Ocean View High School announced that the 7-foot center has committed to becoming an Anteater. The half-Japanese half-Irish local product (NOT the Irish professional footballer) will have four years of eligibility beginning in 2012-13, adding a “true big man” to the program. Clifford was named All-CIF 2AA while being honored by the Orange County Register. He also received a scout grade of 80 from ESPN, drawing positive remarks.
Clifford has a huge frame with solid length and he possesses some of the best hands in basketball. He has been well taught in the fundamentals and his post moves are getting better. Due to his big frame he knows how to get big and give his passer a [big target]…
For the first time since 2005, UCI Baseball (19-14, 4-5 Big West) is in danger of not extending their season into postseason play.
After taking care of business against Dartmouth and Pacific, sweeping both teams at home, UCI suffered a disastrous sweep at the hands of Big West contender Cal Poly.
This past weekend, UCI had a grand opportunity to right the ship against powerhouse rival Cal State Fullerton. After a rainout on Friday, Andrew Thurman took the mound in game one of the Saturday doubleheader and absolutely dominated a strong Titan lineup. Keeping CSF batters off-balance with a full command of all of his pitches, Thurman carried a no-hitter into the top of the ninth. Unfortunately, Titan LF Austin Kingsolver broke up the no-no bid with a little dribbler that took too long to get to UCI’s DJ Crumlich at shortstop. The ensuing throw was too late, and just like that, a measly infield hit had ruined Thurman’s chance of history. Nonetheless, Thurman’s effort was good enough to earn him Big West Co-Pitcher of the Week and ESPN Zone Anaheim Anteater of the Week accolades.
Longtime UCI men’s basketball fans will remember Aras Baskauskas as a scrappy guard who played for UCI from 2001-04, never averaging more than 2 PPG. Hardcore Survivor fans will remember him playing a brilliant game while winning Survivor: Panama Exile Island, which aired in 2006.
I wasn’t around for either event, but it was still cool to hear Baskauskas enthusiastically say “Zot Zot Zot! That’s right! Anteaters, baby!” during a shout out to Anteater basketball on a recent episode of Rob Has a Podcast, a popular Survivor/reality TV podcast.
Baskauskas calls UCI a “great school” and later comments that the Anteaters “haven’t had too many good seasons in a while, but hopefully next season we’ll win the Big West and get to the tournament.”
Regardless of his actual counting stats at UCI or his 15 minutes of fame on reality TV, it’s encouraging to see Anteater alums move on in life and become successful in other endeavors and life goals. Sometimes it’s nice to take a step back and remember that the young men and women we write about here on Zotcubed are doing more than just competing in a game. They’re learning life skills and earning an education and giving back to society in a way that will add to the prestige of a degree from UCI. Sometimes, the stats and the game results really do come secondary. Cheers, Aras!
Since Zotcubed last wrote about men’s volleyball, you could say that John Speraw’s group has done a pretty good job. Let’s recap. Our Anteaters…
- Won six straight
- Exacted revenge on Stanford in Palo Alto, winning 3-1 (25-21, 17-25, 25-17, 25-15) after losing 3-0 earlier in the season in Irvine.
- Defeated then No. 1 UCLA on the road in an epic 3-2 dogfight (25-22, 23-25, 25-18, 25-27, 15-13)
- Took over the No. 1 spot in the nation
- Installed a new setter, Chris Austin, into the starting lineup.
- Set themselves up to win the MPSF regular season crown, all but assuring UCI a guaranteed bid in the NCAA Tournament so long as they win the games they should win in the regular season.
- Are the best collegiate volleyball team in the nation. Did I mention that already?
If we look at the championship teams from years past, both 2007 (29-5) and 2009 (26-4) had similar records to this year’s team (18-3). UCI has one true test remaining, a re-match with UCLA at the Bren Events Center. Not only would it be awesome to sweep the Bruins 3-0 on the season series, UCI would then be accountable for three of UCLA’s five losses on the season.
Clearly, if you haven’t jumped on the bandwagon yet, now is the time to do so. Coach Speraw and his staff will undoubtedly have his guys ready to play down the home stretch, and come May 5 at the Galen Center, the Anteaters may be hoisting yet another championship trophy.
In a piece of surprising news, Barry Faulkner of the Daily Pilot reports that UC Irvine will not renew the contract of women’s basketball head coach Molly Goodenbour, signaling a switch in leadership for next season. Goodenbour coached the Lady Anteaters for four seasons, guiding UCI through a rebuilding process that makes Goodenbour’s 44-76 record worse than it really was.
Due to the mayhem that is March Madness, Zotcubed has fallen a bit behind the times with UCI’s perennial powerhouses, Anteater Baseball and Anteater Men’s Volleyball. Let’s see how things have gone on the diamond today… (with volleyball to come tomorrow)
The big news out of Anteater Ballpark is the two potentially crushing injuries suffered by ace Matt Whitehouse and senior catcher Ronnie Shaeffer. Shaeffer went down about a week ago with a broken finger, and was reported by the Daily Pilot’s Barry Faulkner to be out for 2-3 weeks. There is also speculation that he could be out until May in the worse case scenario. Whitehouse meanwhile has not pitched since March 2, out with an inflamed rotator cuff.
As you all know by now, the 2011-12 season ended last Friday in Anaheim when UCI fell to Long Beach State 68-57 in the Big West Tournament semi-finals.
The Anteaters came out confident and firing on all cylinders, storming out to a 9-0 lead. Chris McNealy continued his strong play, and Daman Starring had one of his good shooting days. Michael Wilder also played to the best of his capacity, shooting the 3-ball so well that 49er fans were shouting for their team to not let him shoot. But in the end, UCI was simply over-matched against this senior-laden Long Beach State team, even without Larry Anderson. The 49ers are a No. 12 seed in the NCAA Tournament which begins tomorrow (in earnest anyway… the First Four games have already been wildly entertaining), and it’s a position they’ve earned through several four-year players and a very tough schedule.
So with all of that being said, let’s give out a few awards and take a look toward next year.
Most Valuable Player: Adam Folker
Let’s face it. Without Folker, this team is largely screwed in the post. I can’t imagine Will Davis II, Mike Best and Wilder having to handle the opposing team’s big trees down low for 40 minutes a game. Besides this, Folker was often deemed as the guy who gave the most effort and had the most competitive spirit by Turner—all very important leadership qualities to have from your oldest guy on the team. This award can also double as most inspirational, as many doctors even advised Folker to retire from basketball due to the severity of his hip injury that he had to work back from.