The Eagles are a good NAIA program, with Ken Anmann is in his ninth year as head coach. He has led Concordia to the NAIA championship game three times in the last six seasons.
Last season they made the NAIA quarter finals, with a season record of 28-7.
They, however, have to replace their three top scorers from last year's team.
Senior point guard Terrence Worthy (5-9, 175) is a four-year starter who made NAIA second-team All-American. The team's leading returning scorer is sophomore Cameron Gliddon (6-5, 190), who averaged 9.6 points per game a year ago and hit 38% of his threes.
Sophomore point Karlos Grier (5-9, 170) and sophomore off-guard Austin Simon (6-2, 170) played solid minutes last season.
Concordia likes to rotate a lot of guards to pressure full court and on the perimeter in the halfcourt. This season they brought in a trio of junior guards in A.J. Gasporra (6-2, 185), Justin Johnson (6-2, 170), and Jonathon Gunderson (6-4, 190) to help with that. Gunderson is a former high school teammate of UCLA's James Keefe at Rancho Santa Margarita who went to play for former UCLA assistant Kerry Keating at Santa Clara out of high school.
There is also senior forward Dominic Cruz-Duncan, who played solid minutes off the bench last season.
In the post, there is the returning junior center from Australia, Ben Smith (6-8, 230), the team's leading returning rebounder (4.7 per game).
There is also the intriguing story of back-up sophomore post Andre Murillo (6-7, 240), who has returned from an attempted murder last April. Murillo was stabbed when a member of the Afghanistan National Basketball team, Abdullah Wahidi, confronted him outside a party in Irvine. Murillo received a 3-1/2-inch knife wound that nicked a part of his heart and collapsed a lung. He underwent four surgeries, suffered through pneumonia, was in the hospital for 15 days and lost 40 pounds. Wahidi, out on $750,000 bail, is charged with murder and assault with a deadly weapon.
Concordia, as we alluded to, likes to play a lot of bodies, going 10 deep, at least, to keep up the defensive pressure.
While, of course, the Eagles are no match for an elite high-major Division 1 program like UCLA, it will be at least a little interesting since UCLA will be without two projected starters in guard Mike Roll and point guard Jerime Anderson, both skipping the game due to injuries. That will leave sophomore guard Malcolm Lee to handle a bulk of the point guard duties, which will be a bit challenging when Concordia keeps throwing bodies at him. Junior Mustafa Abdul-Hamid is definitely going to get at least 15-20 minutes in this game merely because of a lack of able bodies for UCLA. It will also be a trial-by-fire for UCLA's freshmen wings, Mike Moser and Tyler Honeycutt.
UCLA's depth in the frontcourt should be the overwhelmingly decisive factor, with the height and athleticism that Concordia can't match up against. UCLA senior forward Nikola Dragovic is recovering from food poisoning Monday, but UCLA will rotate senior James Keefe, sophomores Drew Gordon and J'mison Morgan, and freshman Reeves Nelson in the frontcourt, which will give UCLA a decided rebounding advantage. Freshman forward Brendan Lane is still nursing an ankle injury. Freshman center Anthony Stover, who could very well redshirt this season, will get some time on the court to see what he can do.
What to watch for: Lee is expected to get most of the back-up point guard minutes this season, so watch to see how he handles the point guard duties tonight. Keefe should show more mobility from last season. Nelson has led the team in rebounding in practice, so expect him to be tough inside.