Men’s Basketball Season Preview
It was the shot heard all around UC Irvine.
With UCI’s men’s basketball team up by a single point and 5.3 seconds left in the game, Cal State Long Beach’s Aaron Nixon hit a fall-away three-pointer as time expired, ending the Anteater season and giving the 49ers an improbable 75-73 victory.
Nixon almost turned the ball over when he received the inbound pass, nearly colliding with his own teammate, before regaining possession and sinking the shot on the left baseline over UCI’s junior forward Nic Campbell.
‘The ending was disappointing,’ Campbell said. ‘It was a lucky shot and we will remember it. It adds extra motivation for us during the season and we will have that shot in the back our minds.’
Eight months later, the Anteaters will get a chance at redemption when the 2006-2007 season starts with an exhibition game against St. Xavier on Nov. 2.
With the loss of their top two scorers from a season ago, the men’s team will rely heavily on their physical frontcourt to carry much of the offensive burden.
Campbell, who averaged 10.5 points per game last season, is poised to be the leader of this young Anteater team along with junior forwards Darren Fells and Patrick Sanders.
Campbell is currently sidelined with a back injury and is expected to suit up in the following weeks.
‘[The rehabilitation] is going good,’ Campbell said. ‘I had a slight aggravation during the summer, but I started running and cutting in full speed. The goal right now is to get back for the South Carolina game.’
Fells was recently picked on the All-Big West Conference preseason team and was the team’s leading rebounder from a season ago.
Fells said that the team’s biggest strengths were ‘our inside game and our big men.’
Last season the Anteaters finished with an overall record of 16-13 and in second place in the Big West Conference. This season, with sevennew players on the roster, the men’s team was projected to finish in sixth place by the media polls.
‘Last year they picked us to finish sixth and we finished second,’ said Head Coach Pat Douglass, who enters his 10th season at UCI.
One of the early tests for the men’s team will be their match-up against the South Carolina Gamecocks from the Southeastern Conference.
The Anteaters welcome the Gamecocks at the Bren Center on Tuesday Nov. 14 at 7:05 p.m.
South Carolina has won the National Invitational Tournament the past two seasons and nearly defeated the NCAA Champions