Hope springs eternal at the beginning of every new season for the typical fan. It’s easy to buy into the hype of new faces and easy to forget how impactful former players were.

UCI looked hapless for much of Friday’s 72-56 loss to Utah State, a game that devolved into a gaggle of freshmen going up against a squad of juco veterans. Furthermore, while USU was able to lean on their star Jalen Moore for 22 points, Luke Nelson sat out another game nursing his hamstring.

Several freshman showed flashes of promise, including Eyassu Worku, John Edgar Jr. and Brad Greene, but USU’s Koby McEwen was on another level. I did not realize that the kid was listed in ESPN’s top 100 freshman. We very well may look back in a few years and see McEwen suiting up in the NBA.

Despite all of that, the ‘Eaters would have made this one a game had Jaron Martin shot better than a very uncharacteristic 1-10 from the field. Max Hazzard’s 1-8 debut from the field didn’t help. Worse than the poor shooting was the fact that UCI’s offense didn’t create much flow or semblance of cohesive teamwork. Turner gave credit to the Utah State game plan for “confusing” the ‘Eaters and switching up their defenses to keep UCI.

Looking forward, it’s not time to give up hope yet. While UCI has a much longer way to go than most fans anticipated, let’s not forget that even the NCAA Tournament team ‘Eaters lost to a horrible Morgan State team that year in December. Utah State looks substantially better than that — I wouldn’t be surprised if they at least make a lesser postseason tournament.

Anteater fan  “Boomdos” made a good point after Friday’s game. Judgment on this team should be saved until Nelson returns from injury. Hopefully that return comes sooner than later.

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