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UCI's Miglinieks Makes Baker's Dreams Come True

March 05, 1995|JOHN WEYLER | TIMES STAFF WRITER

FULLERTON — It hasn't happened that often this season, but the last 10 minutes of Saturday night's UC Irvine-Cal State Fullerton game was just the scenario Anteater Coach Rod Baker fantasized about after Raimonds Miglinieks signed a letter of intent to attend Irvine.

With the Anteaters leading, 65-62, Miglinieks hit a three-pointer and then took over the game. He scored 12 points, had two assists and a steal in the final 9 minutes 24 seconds as Irvine rolled up a 91-83 victory in Titan Gym.

"That's when we want Raimonds to control the game," Baker said. "We spread it out for him. (Fullerton) did another good job of being physical with him, but he handled it much better than he did the first time (a 74-68 Fullerton victory). And he got better as the game went on."

Miglinieks made six of 10 shots from the field, 11 of 12 free throws and finished with a career-high 25 points.

"You could've told me he had 10 (points) and I would've believed you," Baker said.

That's the way it is with Miglinieks. You tend to remember more the spectacular passes that whiz through the lane past four or five players before arriving in the hands of a teammate under the basket than his driving layups or high-arching threes.

"We spread it out and it was easier for me to penetrate more," Miglinieks said. "(Assistant coach) Maz (Trakh) has been telling me that I can't do the medium game, but maybe after tonight he won't say that.

"I wasn't trying to prove him wrong, it just happened. I got those shots and I made most of them."

Trakh says he wants Miglinieks, who first looks to pass every time he drives through the lane, to work on pulling up for more short jumpers and bank shots.

"Let's face it, he can penetrate any time he wants to," Trakh said. "We just need him to look to the hoop a little more. I want him to shoot 1,000 of those medium-range shots every day this summer."

Miglinieks, who ranks third in the nation in assists, is also fourth in the Big West in three-point field-goal percentage.

So he's mastered the woods and the putter. Now, if he can also get hot with the wedge, the rest of the Big West tour better beware.

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