Do Mike Best and the Anteaters have a miracle run in them? (Zotcubed)

Three games have gone by since we last talked about Coach Turner’s 2011-12 team, but sadly not much has changed. The only compelling question left for the season in my mind is if the team will avoid the ignominy of losing 20 games.

  • Feb. 11 L 77-74 at Cal Poly. Synopsis: bad first half, lights out shooting in the second half, rally that falls short in the waning minutes. The Good: Adam Folker‘s career-high 20 points on 9-13 shooting. The Bad: Missing a chance to beat a rapidly slipping Cal Poly team, despite shooting over 50 percent from the field as a team.
  • Feb. 15 L 85-62 vs. UCSB. Synopsis: Another clunker of a game against the Gauchos as they sweep the season series from the Anteaters. The Good: Will Davis II outscores Gaucho freshman Alan Williams 12-8 in a match-up that hopefully develops in years to come. The Bad: Pretty much everything else. Not a pretty game.
  • Feb. 18 W 78-73 vs. Eastern Washington. Synopsis: Anteaters shoot better from the field and even from three-point land than the free throw line, turn over the ball 23 times to EWU’s 9, and yet still win. The Good: Evenly distributed scoring and a good response after the letdown against UCSB, especially against a BracketBuster which has traditionally seen less effort from UCI in years past. Also, Mike Best‘s 12 points, 6 rebounds and 4 blocks in 15 minutes of play. Davis II added in four blocks of his own. The Bad: Aforementioned atrocious 48 percent free throw shooting and an unacceptable 12 turnovers combined from point guards Derick Flowers and Daman Starring.

More thoughts on this year’s team as well as Anteater legend Jerry Green after the jump.

UCI basketball now sits at 10-17 on the season, with a 5-8 Big West conference record tied for sixth in the Big West with UC Riverside. They have four at least four games left this season. Two are winnable regular season games against UCR and Cal State Northridge. Another is an extremely tough match-up at Long Beach State. The 49ers are still perfect in conference play thus far, and can smell the finish line. The fourth guaranteed game is the Big West first round match-up, where they will likely match up with either UCSB, Fullerton, or Cal Poly. If they do somehow pull off the first round, they would then likely play Long Beach State again in the second round. In other words, the only way UCI can avoid 20 losses this season is if they win every game they play besides the nearly inevitable losses to Long Beach State.

Some would say that 10 wins is a decent accomplishment for this young team that was returning so little of their scoring from last season. Some would point out the development of young big men Will Davis II and Mike Best, as well as the promising early season play ofAaron Wright.But nonetheless, it’s still a hollow feeling going into the Big West Tournament without a realistic chance at making a run. I hope they prove me wrong.
On a different note, if you haven’t seen this story on the UCI Athletics homepage on former star Anteater Jerry Green yet, I highly recommend giving it a read. Green was well before my time at Irvine, but it seems like he was a truly dynamic player who was able to stir interest in the student body to the point that the Bren would sell out routinely. On top of that, the article makes it clear that Green was and is a classy and upstanding individual who went about his business the right way so as to be a role model for  his teammates and admirers.
I do remember when UCI honored Green a few years back, Pat Douglass made a big deal of trying to arouse more applause from the crowd who was at the game, waving his arms and even grabbing the microphone to praise Green. I remember standing up and applauding because some of the older fans were, but only now am I beginning to appreciate what a special talent and person Green was at Irvine. It’s an absolute shame that UCI wasn’t able to keep the momentum going after Green left; I hope the powers that be decide to finally retire Green’s No. 5 to the Bren Event rafters sooner than later.
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