UC Irvine Preview

The Cardinalmaniac denizens of SoCal are licking their chops at an early season trip down there way by Mike Montgomery's crew. Stanford hits the road for the first time this year with a trip to UC Irvine Tuesday night. The Anteaters are one of the favorites in the Big West and are a dangerous mid-major team, as evidenced by their role in ESPN's Bracket Buster Saturday. For more on this opponent, with size and depth, read on...

Stanford plays the UC Irvine Anteaters in Irvine on Tuesday night.  The last three years Irvine has posted the second most wins of any Division I school in California. Coach Pat Douglass has 471 college coaching victories under his belt, including three Division II Championships.  Eater fans are being told to wear yellow to the game, which is projected to be a sell out. The Irvine roster has a solid experienced frontcourt and a sharp shooting backcourt, with four players in the starting lineup holding size advantages against Stanford.  Beating a nationally ranked Pac-10 team would bring respect to this solid program and do wonders on Selection Sunday.  The game has all the makings of an upset, so the Cardinal better come to play from the start...

The Players

Senior C Adam Parada (2nd team all-Big West) is UCI's first option.  He led the league last year in FG%;  double-teamed more often than not.  Not a major shot-blocker, Parada uses his 7'0" frame effectively as an interior defender.  Not a great rebounded, he still nearly led the league during Big West play.  He has a knack for quickly racking up fouls, leading to long stretches on the bench.  Played on the Mexican National team last year.  Parada's back up is junior PF/C Greg Ethington. He's a very strong blue-collar type player.  7'1" freshman Jim Paullin is not expected to play, as he is taking a redshirt this season.

Senior F Stan Zuzak is a good all-around offensive player.  At 6'11" he passes well, shoots from distance, and can post-up shorter players.  Zuzak's not a good rebounder, but has enough strength and length to force his man outside.  Look for Stan to roam the perimeter bringing Justin Davis out of the paint.  Senior F Matt Okoro is a good role-player.  Very quick and athletic, he brings defensive energy and an efficient (though limited) offensive attack. He can play the 2, 3 or 4 and is Irvine's equivalent to Nick Robinson. The forwards are big and experienced and will be a good early season test for the Cardinal.

Sophomore PG Jeff Gloger was a big surprise last season.  He led the conference in steals.  Gloger shot a remarkable 52% FG and converted 14 of 27 three-pointers last season; he is shooting at the same pace early this season.  The 6'4" Gloger rebounds like a forward, averaging 4.3 boards per game. Senior PG Aras Baskauskas is the backup, a defensive guard specialist.  The battle between Gloger and Chris Hernandez should be fun to watch.

Sophomore wings Ross Schraeder and Mike Efevberha will start and are a dynamic duo on the perimeter.  Schraeder is probably the best perimeter shooter in the Big West.  He has a fine passing touch.  Schraeder's release is quick and at 6'5" he'll get his shots off.  Efevberha, also 6'5", has an effortless outside stroke with good range.  Efevberha is very quick.  Nic Campbell backs up the wings.  Campbell has been hampered by injuries in the past but has proven to be a valuable backup this season.  Irvine led the Big West in three-point shooting last year and is off to a great start again this year.  Schraeder, Efeveberha, Zuzak, and Gloger are all good perimeter shooters.  Don't expect to see much Stanford zone against the anteaters.

Irvine on Offense

Watching Irvine is like watching Stanford.  Very patient, will move the ball around, set plays out of a one–four set.  Their big men can shoot and Zuzak is your typical European high post player.  When you collapse on the post, they dish to the wings who are deadly.  Stanford should have some Q&A advantage on Irvine, so expect to see mainly man to man defense.  I wouldn't be surprised to see the Cardinal experiment with throwing different types of full and half court pressure at the Eaters.

Irvine on Defense

Irvine usually plays man to man.  I expect them to play more zone against Stanford.  Parada is prone to foul trouble and I don't know if they have anyone to match up with the quickness of Justin Davis or Josh Childress.  Irvine may try to put the athletic Okoro on Childress and sacrifice some scoring punch.  I think they will roll the dice and hope for a cold night from the Cardinal outside.  Gloger and Efevberha can defend and the Anteaters have shown different types of full court pressure this season.

Summary

There isn't a lot of difference between the style of play between the two teams. Irvine even lead the Big West in free throw attempts last year (sound familiar?).  I would compare the pace that Irvine wants to play to that of what we will see from Washington State this year.  Hard nosed defense, patient offense and shrink the number of possessions.  Stanford can't get flustered and needs to play defense the entire time Irvine has the ball.  Both teams will need to have good ball movement and keep their big men out of foul trouble.  This game is huge for Irvine and Coach Douglass, and has me worried.  In the end Stanford pulls out a hard fought 69 to 61 victory.

The Childress Factor

I, for one, expect Josh to play.  I am sure Mike Montgomery was concerned about having Josh play three games in nine days with a precursor to a stress fracture. Much like the caution taken a decade ago with Brevin Knight, Stanford will try to limit Josh to 20 to 25 minutes.  His ability to play Tuesday night, though, largely hinges on how his foot feels today with his new orthotic insert.  If the week of rest plus that added support has alleviated his pain, he could be cleared today.  If Childress doesn't play then Nick Robinson, Dan Grunfeld, and Fred Washington will have to play excellent in-your-face defense against either Schraeder or Efevberha.  If Efevberha gets hot, watch for Fred Washington to get important minutes in lockdown duty.

UC Irvine Roster

3

J.R. Stephens

5-11 

175 

Junior 

10

Jeff Gloger

6-4 

195 

Sophomore 

11

Nic Campbell

6-6 

220 

Freshman 

12

Stanislav Zuzak

6-11 

240 

Senior 

14

Ross Schraeder

6-5 

195 

Sophomore 

22

Aras Baskauskas

6-4 

190 

Senior 

23

Mike Efevberha

6-5 

195 

Sophomore 

32

Mark Hill

6-5 

210 

Freshman 

34

Jim Paullin

7-0 

205 

Freshman 

40

Matt Okoro

6-7 

230 

Senior 

42

Greg Ethington

6-8 

250 

Junior 

55

Adam Parada

7-0 

255 

Senior 


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