UC Irvine has spent much of the last month of practice working on defense, but it appears that the Anteaters will continue to be offensive on both ends of the court again this season.
Club Malbas of Sweden is now 0-6 on its exhibition tour of the United States, but it managed to score well beyond the 69 points it averaged in its first five losses in Irvine's 126-92 victory Wednesday night at the Bren Center.
Irvine didn't have a lot of trouble stopping the Swedish teen-agers on Club Malbas, but a pair of American players traveling with the team to make it competitive on this trip--center David Duane from Northern Arizona and guard Ritchie McKay--combined for 75 points. Duane was 19 of 29 from the field and finished with 43 points. He had 35 with almost 15 minutes to play in the second half, and then his arm must have grown tired. McKay had 32.
"We've spent a lot of time on defense, but it sure didn't look like it tonight," Irvine Coach Bill Mulligan said. "We made those two kids look like superstars. We've got to have somebody who can come in and take the other team's best players."
Nobody in blue and gold appears ready to step up and take over that role. Mulligan said he hopes that sophomore transfer Mike Labat, who is expected to start practicing again Monday after missing two weeks with an ankle injury, will be a defensive asset.
But only liabilities were visible Wednesday night.
"Our defensive intensity was horrible," admitted guard Kevin Floyd, one of the players Mulligan says must fill the defensive void. "Mulligan's gonna be madder than mud. He didn't want them to score in the 80s, and two guys got 75? I imagine practice tomorrow will be pretty tough . . . and about four hours long."
As usual, the Anteaters appear to have impressive scoring potential. Center Wayne Engelstad hit 11 of 18 shots from the floor to lead Irvine with 26 points. Forward Frank Woods was 8 of 13 from the field and scored 22. Floyd hit 8 of 11 field goal attempts and all three free throws for 20 points. Freshman Justin Anderson made 5 of 9 three-point shots, scoring 19 points.
And no one played more than 25 minutes.
"UCI seems to try very hard on defense, but maybe they don't have the talent to stop them (Duane and McKay) like the other teams we've played did," Malbas Coach Per Kallman said. "But on the other end, they are outstanding. They shoot better than any other team we've faced."
So what's new?
If Wednesday night was any indication, UCI will spend another season relying on a whole lot of offense and very little defense.