Irvine Ready for Prime Time
by Don Weinstein
3,299 attended the UC Irvine Anteaters and UC Riverside Highlanders game at Irvine’s Bren Event center the other night, including one gentleman from Hoopville. The Bren Center is located on the UCI campus, in lower Orange County, California. I went expecting to see what this Jerry Green was all about, but I ended up seeing a team with enough chemistry and explosiveness to make the NCAA’s and have a chance at advancing. This team has the proper mix of speed, shooting, size and athleticism, and they gave a clinic to the Highlanders, who are generating their own story this year.
Speed: One of the quickest guard tandems in 6’5″ junior guard Jordan Harris and the 6’3″ Green.
Shooting: Solid mid-to-3 point shooting from Green, Harris, and 6′ 4″ junior guard Mike Hood.
Size: Harris is Adrian Dantley-like, displaying speed on the perimeter, but punch inside at a weight of 217lbs (He leads the team in rebounding at 6.8 boards/game).
No pun, but the biggest story here is the play of the 7’0″ sophomore center Parada. He is outstanding on defense (giving up only 6 rebounds to the league leading Vili Morton on UCR), and on offense, he’s always there for a look at an offensive board and score. Even though Green is the show, Parada is an emerging crowd favorite. Stanislav Zuzak is a 6’10” forward who clears the way for Parada’s and Harris’ dirty work.
Athleticism: Apologies to Dominique Wilkins, but Jerry Green is a human highlight film. The plays he made were nothing but outstanding, and the ones he nearly made would dazzle messrs Kobe and McGrady. Harris isn’t as flashy as Green, but a steady all around threat, and dangerous to the opposition since Green clearly gets the focus.
On the bench: Matt Okoro, a 6’7″ sophomore forward is a guy with what seems like a 5 foot vertical leap, and incredible speed.
The Highlanders were schooled, with Vili Morton and John Galbreath held to 10 and 8 points respectively . Next for UCI is Utah State on the road, a sure Big West shootout if ever there was one.
Next Hoopville visit: UCI vs. Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, Saturday January 26th.