UC Davis staying in step after historical season

In Big West, News by Ken Cross

By Manny Nunez

After last season’s NCAA Tournament appearance and subsequent win in the First Four, the UC-Davis Aggies have been more than recognized after only playing in Division I basketball since 2007.

Saturday night in Orleans Arena, Big South Conference member Radford held the Aggies to 33.3 percent from the field and outrebounded them, 40-33, in handing UC Davis a 72-62 over time loss which was UCD’s third loss in the last four outings. 

“Our guys came in fatigued from the night before,” Aggies head coach Jim Les said. “We treated this game like a Big West matchup, where we knew in games like these, it comes down to controlling momentum and getting big stops. I am proud of what our guys have done but we need to make those plays like we have been all season defensively in order to be successful this year.”

Standing at 8-5, the Aggies will be entering Big West play as one of the favorites along with Hawaii and UC Irvine. Their strongest suit is guarding the perimeter, having their opponents shoot just under 30 percent from three, which is among one of the best in the NCAA. 

The ability to run shooters off the arc wrecked havoc on Northern Colorado twice and Washington State, where in those three games they shot 24-for-80, including a 1-for-23 performance against Northern Colorado. The Highlanders started off strong going 4-for-7 from three, but were limited to just two makes the rest of the game out of over 10 attempts.

Transfer Siler Schnieder in his three seasons has not dazzled, but as he works the offense, has allowed the Aggies to control tempos and spark big runs. Junior college transfer guard TJ Shorts has contributed immediately, scoring 20 or more points twice already.

“There are reasons why we schedule like we do,” Les said. “Losing a lot of senior leadership means we need to find other players that can contribute. Players like Schnieder and Shorts are those who make a big difference in our defensive game, and help us out with stopping the other team’s best men on the floor.”

Senior Aussie standout Chima Moneke will be the reason why this Aggie team could do more than just become a legitimate mid major team to talk about. Just like last season, earning Big West Newcomer of the Year honors, he has earned more than just conference recognition. He has been listed as a Lute Olsen Watch List as one of the nations top division I players, as well as College Sports Madness’s preseason Player of the Year. He is also the only player in the conference to earn player of the week honors. 

UC Davis has just one more non-conference game against Holy Names before opening with conference favorite UC Irvine at home.  As the Big West keeps improving, the Aggies, however, have the weapons though that will most likely be a team that many will notice as March rolls around.