Plenty of Potential on the Perimeter
Russell Turner boasts a polished group of perimeter players for the much anticipated start of the 2010-2011 basketball season. The Anteaters bring back eight guards from last year’s team, including senior captains Darren Moore and Patrick Rembert.
Moore, a 5th year senior who was plagued by injury at the beginning of his Anteater career, heated up the second half of last season. He averaged a staggering 15.9 points and 6.8 rebounds over the last nine games, including a career-high 24 points in the season-saving win against Cal Poly. Moore nailed two three-pointers in the final 38 seconds of the overtime win at Cal Poly to give UC Irvine a Big West tournament berth. Moore is one of the most underrated players in the Big West, and hopes to give Irvine a chance to win the conference title.
“A successful season would be everyone buying into the system,” Moore said of his expectations for the year. “When things get bad for us, everybody [has] to just continue to stay positive and keep doing the things coach Turner preaches to us.”
Perimeter play will be one of the keys to success this season as Turner institutes a new spread offense, similar to that of the Golden State Warriors’ system under fabled coach Don Nelson. Senior Emil Kim, sophomore Mike Wilder and juniors Derrick Strings and Jonas Lalehzadeh will be the primary benefactors of kick-out jump shots on the wings. Rembert and sophomore point guard Derrick Flowers will be at the helm of the new look offense, averaging a combined 3.4 assists last season.
“Everybody has to be willing to work hard and get better every day,” said Rembert, who was second on the team in assists last year. “[The offense] will keep the floor spread and give everyone easy buckets.”
Irvine welcomes the additions of sophomore Daman Starring (Centenary College) and freshman Chris McNealy (San Ramon Valley High School), both of whom are listed at 6 feet 3 inches. McNealy and Starring add much needed height at the shooting guard position, and Starring could also see some action at the small forward position.
“[McNealy] is physically not completely mature yet. But I’ve seen a lot of growth in him [already],” Turner said of the NorCal Preps Division Player of the Year.
Starring, named Freshman of the Year in the state of Louisiana, will make an immediate impact in the Anteater rotation as he is expected to start at the interchangeable two-third spot with Darren Moore.
“He was the first guy I signed after getting the job,” Turner said on Starring. “He has great leadership potential and plays effectively on both sides of the ball. He’s a good shooter, passer and, dribbler.”
Starring is excited to be a part of Turner’s “energetic system,” and noted the head coach’s trip to the Oklahoma City Thunder training camp this past summer, where he learned a thing or two from last year’s NBA Coach of the Year and UCI alumni Scott Brooks.
“He went there just to see what he could bring back to help us be a better team,” Starring said.
The Anteater backcourt has been practicing with confidence under Turner’s system, and will certainly be entertaining to watch at the Bren this season.