UC Irvine Men's Basketball 2014 NIT Tournament Capsule

UC Irvine Anteaters
Big West (23-11, 13-3)


UC Irvine spent November and December travelling up and down the West Coast, taking on the best college basketball has to offer. The only big win they managed was against Washington, but the Anteaters were well prepared for Big West play. After back-to-back losses to Hawaii and UCSB, UC Irvine won nine of their last ten regular season contests.

Big Wins: 11/14 at Washington (86-72), 12/21 at Denver (63-50), 2/27 UCSB (71-60)
Bad Losses: 12/7 Pepperdine (69-75), 1/25 Hawaii (86-90), 2/22 at Cal State Northridge (75-81)
Coach: Russell Turner (4 seasons at UC Irvine)

Why They Can Surprise:
Freshman Mamadou Ndiaye plays about 20 minutes per game and the contest is very different when he is on the floor. The 7-6 center can block just about anything that the opposition heaves towards the basket. For a freshman, he is not too bad at scoring either. But even when Ndiaye is on the bench, the Anteaters are strong in the paint…and that is not even taking into account the two other seven-footers who rarely play. Will Davis II may look small when standing next to Ndiaye, but he is a tough 6-8 forward who would average more than 6.3 rebounds and 1.0 blocks per game if it wasn’t for Ndiaye. Davis II is the big man who can score by doing more than putting back rebounds. As a result of all of the size and shot blocking, the Anteaters allow the opposition to shoot just 37.5 percent from the floor. Only Eastern Michigan and Southern have a better field-goal percentage defense than that.

Why They Can Disappoint:
The frontcourt is fun to watch, but it is not like the backcourt lacks in talent. Point guard Alex Young has built off a successful freshman campaign and has turned into a steady floor leader. Senior Chris McNealy and freshman Luke Nelson can score from anywhere on the floor. However, the turnover margin leaves something to be desired. The Anteaters are not going to force many turnovers due to their style of play, but they will need to commit fewer themselves if they want to do any damage in the postseason.

Probable Starters:
Alex Young, Sophomore, Guard, 8.8 ppg, 4.6 apg
Luke Nelson, Freshman, Guard, 11.7 ppg, 2.9 apg
Chris McNealy, Senior, Guard, 11.1 ppg, 2.2 apg
Will Davis II, Junior, Forward, 11.1 ppg, 6.3 rpg, 1.0 bpg
Mamadou Ndiaye, Freshman, Center, 8.0 ppg, 6.0 rpg, 3.0 bpg

Key Roleplayers:
Dominique Dunning, Sophomore, Guard, 4.5 ppg
John Ryan, Junior, Center, 4.3 ppg, 3.9 rpg
Travis Souza, Junior, Guard, 3.6 ppg, 1.1 apg
Aaron Wright, Sophomore, Guard, 4.2 ppg, 1.8 apg

By the Numbers:
Scoring Offense: 71.7 (163rd in nation, 4th in conference)
Scoring Defense: 64.3 (43, 1)
Field-Goal Percentage: 47.4 (30, 1)
Field-Goal Defense: 37.5 (3, 1)
Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 5.7 (230, 6)
Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 35.6 (115, 3)
Free-Throw Percentage: 63.7 (334, 9)
Rebound Margin: 4.0 (54, 2)
Assists Per Game: 15.9 (17, 2)
Turnovers Per Game: 12.6 (203, 7)

Recent Postseason Appearances:
2013    CIT    First Round win over High Point
2013    CIT    Second Round loss to Oral Roberts

*all team stats through 3/9


See All Men’s Basketball Postseason Capsules