Teams: UC Davis at Oklahoma State
Records: Aggies 2-0, Cowboys 1-0
Where: Gallagher-Iba Arena — Stillwater, Okla.
When: Saturday at 6 p.m.
Who to watch: The game against Menlo on Tuesday made it difficult to pick just one player to focus on. The Aggies played with an aggressive intensity that has not been seen in the Pavilion for some time. However, head coach Jim Les spotlighted the performance of sophomore J.T. Adenrele, and deservedly so.
The Roseville, Calif. native looks like a completely different player on the court this year.
“All the credit for his development goes to him. He wants to be coached and he wants to be better,” Les said.
Adenrele’s improved play stems from his newly developed physique.
“The weight room has really helped me develop during the offseason. We’ve been hitting it hard and it shows,” Adenrele said.
Did you know? UC Davis was winless on the road last season, a statistic that Les aims to turn around starting this weekend in Stillwater, Okla.
“It’s a new chemistry this year. We’ve changed the culture of this team and if we can buy into building a defensive identity we can use that and our explosive offensive to win anywhere,” he said.
Preview: The Aggies have won their first two exhibition games, the most recent being a 97-76 trouncing of Menlo College.
Fans, players and coaches alike remember the woes of last season but it was a new energy on Tuesday night. UC Davis led from start to finish and Aggie fans everywhere can rejoice because this team has some defensive game.
“It’s the carrot I’ve been dangling in front of them. If we can execute defensively then we can go on some explosive offensive runs,” Les said.
Every player was spectacular on Tuesday night and they’ll need to be even better if they want to fly home from Oklahoma with a victory.
UC Davis has an explosive offense that they showed glimpses of last year and again against Menlo. However, they need a solid defense to help them survive road games.
Les is working hard to develop a squad that can execute both man and zone defensive schemes.
“I want these guys to buy into the idea that having a defensive identity is important. It’s not always about being flashy on offense,” Les said.
It seems like Les’ message is well-received by players.
Redshirt freshman Corey Hawkins is one of Davis’ most promising talents. Basketball is in his blood, seeing that his father is former NBA All-Star Hersey Hawkins, so Corey knows what it takes to lead a team.
“I want to come in and be a leader this year. It’s all about winning. I don’t care about scoring points as long as the team walks away with the W,” Hawkins said.
The game against Oklahoma will be the first real contest for UC Davis this season. More than anything, they want to win and Les is confident that the team will find a way to do so.
— Kim Carr