And The Valley Shook was fortunate enough to have David from the UC Irvine blog ZotCubed reach out to us to do a question and answer exchange. You can check out my answers over there as well. This was an awesome exchange and may even come in handy later if the Anteaters and Tigers meet again on the baseball diamond.
ATVS- First things first, what does Zotcubed mean?
Zot3- "Zot" is the sound that anteaters make in the B.C. comic strip which UC Irvine has adopted as its own. Everything on campus is Zot this or Zot that, and the phrase "Zot Zot Zot!" is the basic chant basketball fans use during games, particularly after made free throws. It also doubles as a greeting/verbal nod of recognition when UCI alum meet each other, kind of as an inside joke, confirming your connection to UC Irvine. Zotcubed is just a play on that.
ATVS- What can you tell me, in general, about UC Irvine's history in basketball? Who would you consider to be their main rival?
Zot3- Unfortunately there's not much to write home about. The school was only founded in 1965 and started playing Division I ball in 1977. We've never made the NCAA Tournament, despite several close calls. Our most famous alumnus is probably Scott Brooks, who is now the head coach for the Oklahoma City Thunder. Our main rival is Long Beach State, although I wouldn't say it is extremely heated or anything.
ATVS- LSU will possibly be without two guards for this game, Andre Stringer and John Isaac. What do you think UC Irvine will do to perhaps exploit this opportunity?
Zot3- Well UC Irvine is definitely guard heavy and likes to run four of them at a time, so hopefully they can wear out LSU's remaining guards by pushing the tempo. Russell Turner, our head coach, is a former Golden State Warriors assistant, and he runs a style of offense very similar to theirs. Unfortunately our starting point guard Aaron Wright just hyperextended his knee against Wyoming on Tuesday, so I'm not sure if UCI will be at full-strength either.
ATVS- Keeping in mind the above mentioned guards decreasing LSU's depth, does UC Irvine use a full court press, something that has troubled LSU for years?
Zot3- I do expect us to employ the full court press--it's something that Turner likes to do. However, UCI is extremely young as a team and so I don't have as much confidence in our press this year. This will be something to watch though.
ATVS- UC Irvine will be playing their second road game in three days. Will fatigue be a problem, and what might be done about it?
Zot3- Conditioning has been a main emphasis of the current coaching regime, so hopefully fatigue isn't too big of an issue. I'm more concerned about their lack of poise and ability to finish on the road. We're 0-6 on the road this season, and our shooting percentage has been awful away from the comforts of our own arena.
ATVS- Looking around California basketball, it seems that different teams, such as Stanford, Santa Clara, Long Beach State, and San Diego State, have all trended upward while UCLA and USC have been down. Is this something that will continue, and how might UC Irvine find a way to become the next program to trend upward?
Zot3- I don't expect UCLA and USC to be down for very long, especially with UCLA's rumored recruiting class for next year and USC's abundance of D-I transfers. As far as the teams on the rise, I think it all comes down to the head coach at each respective school. Location is obviously a selling point for most if not all of these California schools; it's about harnessing the right talent that will stick around and stay close to home instead of heading off to a bigger arena and more TV exposure. We're still confident that Turner is the man who can do that at UCI, but this year is definitely a rebuilding campaign.