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UC IRVINE NOTEBOOK : Freshman Will Add Maturity . . . in 1993

December 20, 1990|ROBYN NORWOOD

You see him on the bench--tall, slender Dan Augulis, a freshman from Kansas who played on an undefeated state championship team last season.

He practices like the other UC Irvine players, almost every afternoon and even some mornings as early as six o'clock.

He runs when they run and sweats when they sweat.

The only difference is that Augulis almost certainly will not get into a game this season, or next season or the season after that.

A 6-foot-10, 200-pound 18-year-old, Augulis will redshirt this season. Then, for the next two seasons, he will be on a two-year mission for the Mormon Church.

"When you grow up in the Mormon Church with all its beliefs, you expect that you will go out and teach," said Augulis, who was born in Salt Lake City.

When he returns in 1993 to finally play his freshman season, he will be 21 and probably won't know more than three players on the team; Gabe Higa, Khari Johnson and Rick Swanwick, all freshmen, will be seniors then.

"I get a lot of kidding," Augulis said. "They say I'll be part of the first father-son combination."

Augulis' playing days seem a long way off to Coach Bill Mulligan, who is concerned with the here and now of improving on last season's record of 5-23.

"I think he's going to be a good player some day," Mulligan said. "I like him a lot, and he gets along with everyone. People said he was just a post player, but he can shoot outside. He's better than some people told me. But I can't worry about what he's going to do right now." Other schools were interested in Augulis, whose Shawnee Mission High School team went 24-0 last season while winning the Kansas 6-A (large schools) state championship.

Early on, Augulis visited Brigham Young. The school didn't maintain its interest, but the visit might have influenced other schools.

"People say, 'Oh, a Mormon kid took a trip to BYU,' " he said. "Then they back off."

Soon after his 19th birthday Aug. 9, Augulis will complete the paperwork for his mission and go to Provo, Utah, for training. He might be placed in the United States, or he might be sent abroad.

"I think that would be kind of fun," he said, imagining a crash course in German for a mission in Europe.

During his mission, he will play basketball when he can, but it will not be his focus. He will have one day a week off, but that will also be laundry and grocery day. Basketball is down on the list.

"I think I'll be OK," Augulis said. "I'll play a little bit, and I'll work really hard when I get back. When you've been playing all your life, I don't know if you lose that much."

Augulis is the type of young player who often needs extra time to grow into his body, and he says the break could help his basketball career.

"I get two years to put on the weight," he said. "I'm only 18. I think it could be an advantage for me to come back physically and mentally more mature."

More mature, definitely .

And then what? Augulis says he is considering a career in medicine. Four more years of school, an internship and residency . . .

"I'd be really old when I got out of that," he said.

Add Augulis: Augulis was placed on the traveling roster for the trip to play Maryland last week, which included a bus tour of Washington, D.C., and a look around the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md.

Augulis wasn't going to play, but Irvine took him along for no other reason than to let him enjoy the sights.

Augulis smiled at the thought.

"Benevolent coaches, I guess," he said.

Stat of the Week: Three for 13. Irvine missed 10 free throws in its 87-73 loss to San Diego State Saturday, shooting 23%. Dylan Rigdon made two free throws for a 2-0 lead, and then the Anteaters made only one of their next 11. Rigdon, the only Irvine player to make any free throws, went three for six.

Irvine shot a higher percentage from three-point range, which is 19 feet 9 inches from the goal, than from the line, 15 feet away.

"Five yards away," Mulligan said Monday, shaking his head, and illustrating how short the distance is. "That's half a first down."

The women's team, which has a 2-5 record, continues to be a poor free-throw shooting team, now making 52% from the line.

Kathy Lizarraga, who has made 15 of 21 (71%) is the only player with a good percentage and one of only three making at least 60%.

Irvine's largest crowd for a men's game in the Bren Center in three dates is a paltry 2,571 against Bradley, to the exasperation of Mulligan.

"They'll be here for (Nevada Las) Vegas," Mulligan said. "Sure, they'll be here for Vegas. It's discouraging to our players.

"If I sound bitter, it's only because I am."

Add attendance: If the crowd seems larger for Irvine's game against California Saturday, chalk it up to holiday goodwill--Irvine's goodwill.

The school is giving away up to 1,500 seats to charitable groups, including the Boys and Girls Clubs of Irvine and Newport Harbor and the Fullerton office of National Junior Basketball.

Last add attendance: A bonus to the Irvine faithful, however few they might be. The first 1,000 fans Saturday will receive free Anteater-nose souvenirs.

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