No, you don’t have to rub your eyes. That’s right. The UC Irvine Men’s Basketball team is in first place in the Big West. They’re undefeated in conference play, and it’s back. The swagger. The confidence.
And the fans are back, too. Over 2,800 showed up for a game against Fullerton last Wednesday. I long to see the day when I cover a game at the Bren Events Center with all 5,000 seats occupied.
When I covered two of their road games at Cal State Fullerton and Long Beach State, my photographer would meet me at halftime and ask me how UCI would do. During both games, the Anteaters played OK. But what amazed him was what I told him.
‘UCI will win.’
I mean, wow. I never thought I would have the confidence this season to say flat out that Irvine would win. But they’re that good. They’re tough and you should come see magic in the making. Perhaps this is the year Head Coach Pat Douglass can get the monkey off his back, so to speak, and carry an Anteater ball club into the NCAA tournament.
Going on the road to watch them play also allowed me to see how other schools compared to us in creating home court advantage. Basketball fans use the term ‘sixth man’ to describe the advantage their fans give them.
But more than anything, the one unifying thing I learned going on the road is that students everywhere yell stupid, illogical statements at the other team. And as much as I love and respect the Completely Insane Anteaters, they’re guilty too. Here are some of the more memorable comments:
Cal State Long Beach: ‘LA rejects.’ Sure, I’m not going to lie to you. I didn’t get into UCLA. And I’m sure almost all of you here in Irvine wouldn’t be here if you got into UCLA. The only people who turned down UCLA for UCI were Regents scholars who got a full ride here and don’t have an ego that begs to tell the world that their intelligence is measured by the school they attend. So I don’t mind if someone reminds me that I got rejected from UCLA. But not from someone at a Cal State.
The logic goes like this: The top 12 percent of California high school students attend the UC, the top 33 percent attend a Cal State, and the rest are off to a community college. It was written into our state policies, one that was created by former UC President Clark Kerr. I won’t put up with Long Beach State fans telling me that I got rejected from UCLA, especially when they got rejected as well.
Cal State Northridge: ‘Cal State rejects.’ OK, see the reasons above. But c’mon. That’s just stupid. Especially coming from Northridge. If I went to a Cal State, I would go to San Luis Obispo or San Diego State, anyway.
Matador fans chanted this to Anteater fans last March in the Big West Conference tournament, where they ended our season. Then-Chancellor Ralph Cicerone was in attendance to support UCI. I think that he should have just gone up to those fans and told them off.
UC Irvine: ‘UC rejects.’ Usually directed at Cal State opponents, this cheer is wrong for two reasons: It’s true and it’s mean. Remember how bad it feels when the other team reminds you of your UCLA/Berkeley rejection.
All schools: ‘Sit down, Coach.’ Whenever coaches spend an exorbitant amount of time complaining what they felt was a wrong call, the home team always tells them to sit down. Why? It’s his job as a coach to fight for his team.
All Schools: Making fun of opposing players. I’m glad we don’t have any funny or ugly players on the b-ball squad. I think this comes mostly from the CIA. Last year, they would chat ‘Doogie Howser’ whenever UC Riverside’s point guard would get the ball. It didn’t make sense, except for the fact that the guy was skinny and white.
Making fun of players based on their looks is just plain low, no matter how right you may be. There’s a short point guard, and by short I mean 5 feet 8 inches, at Cal State Long Beach whom the CIA loves to call ‘Gary Coleman.’ He actually does resemble Gary, but I’m sure he got that in middle school. The least we could do is let it slide.
UC Irvine: ‘State school.’ CIA fans love to chant this whenever we’re playing a Cal State school, but I don’t get it. Sure, the Cal State schools have ‘state’ in their names, but we’re a flippin’ state school, as well. We’re a public school, supported by the state of California. It makes sense that we’re a state school. End of argument.
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