Antourage Insider: Projections, Analysis and Notable News

The Antourage Insider is trying out a new style this week, highlighting upcoming home match-ups and potential starting lineups – and what better way to start than with this Saturday’s Homecoming affair against rival Long Beach State. If you haven’t gone out to a game this season, this one against the 49ers will probably be one of the best of the year.

Some sad news — junior center Adam Folker will sit out the rest of the season on a medical redshirt, with the Achilles injury on top of his previous hand injury effectively sabotaging the Canadian big man’s 2010-2011 season. This seriously hampers UCI’s post depth, which is, surprise surprise, still missing Maxime Chupin on eligibility issues. Now the Anteaters can no longer hope for the return of their preseason starting center, and take on their current roles for the remainder of the season.

Folker now joins Derick Flowers, Daman Starring and Mike Wilder in next year’s junior class, leaving behind next year’s senior class of Derrick Strings, Jonas Lalehzadeh and Eric Wise. In a way, this development could turn out to be a blessing in disguise, giving Folker more time to excel in Turner’s system, with improved ball-handling and offensive moves. It also adds a center to a standout group of up-and-coming guards.

Coming off of a great win against Cal Poly, scoring 63 points on a defense that had routinely kept Big West opponents in the 40’s, UCI will first travel to Cal State Bakersfield for a non-conference match-up against the Roadrunners. Last year, UCI and CSUB split a home and away in what is becoming a perennial match-up between the two schools. (Sidenote: beware of a rather large and awkward Bowflex commercial on the top of the Roadrunners’ official site. Desperate times in the advertising industry.)

The Roadrunners are currently 8-9, but got blown away by Pacific 79-46. On the other hand, they defeated UC Riverside, who of course beat UCI earlier this season.

Beating the Beach would be the best win of the season for UCI thus far. The 49ers are 11-8 this season due to a tough non-conference schedule but, more impressively, are 6-0 in the Big West. A UCI win would take Long Beach down from their pedestal, and it would rally the UCI faithful who will be sure to come out in droves for Homecoming.
Keys to Victory: Neutralize Casper Ware. The not-so-friendly ghost was the main perpetrator in Long Beach rallying against UCI at Long Beach earlier this season. Ware virtually took the team on his back, hitting 3-pointers and driving to the basket at will.