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CAMPUS REPORT | UC IRVINE / CHRIS FOSTER

He Can't Wait to Throw His Weight Around

October 20, 1998|CHRIS FOSTER

Ben Jones is enjoying the view as a veteran on the UC Irvine basketball team. True, he is only a sophomore, but he already has been this route. He knows the drill . . . or drills.

"It's strange seeing these freshmen," Jones said. "I was in the same spot and know all the stuff they're going through. There are three or four different basketball things you have to do during the day.

"You have to sign in every morning. Then comes the individual workouts. Then comes the conditioning. Then comes the footwork. Of course, then you play pickup games. The hardest thing is coming to practice day in and day out."

Not that he minds. "We're building to something," he said. "I feel strongly about this season."

With that in mind, Jones embarked on an off-season training program. He is stronger and a little more versatile.

A year ago, what he did best, and most often, was set up behind the three-point line. It didn't take too long for Big West Conference opponents to figure it out.

"We were at Pacific and one of our guys would drive to the basket, and normally the guy guarding me would go help. They didn't. The guy stayed on me," Jones said.

The tactic was effective. Jones took 189 shots, 117 three-pointers. Once defenses caught on, his scoring average spiraled. He led the team in scoring seven times before the Pacific game and once after. Defensive pressure and fatigue took a toll.

So he added 10 pounds and honed his game.

"He's stronger, so he won't dip when he takes his shot," Coach Pat Douglass said. "He can catch and shoot it. It will help him with his rebounding and defense."

The Anteaters surprised many by finishing 9-18 last season, mainly because the year before they were 1-25.

"I know we're going to win more games this season," said Jones, a 6-foot-7 forward. "Everyone is working toward the same goal and we have better chemistry this year."

Jones has put in the work, with a weight program designed by Eric Burkhardt, Irvine's strength coach. He also played in the Just Say No League.

Jones' teammates included Marek Ondera, Sean Jackson, Zamiro Bennem and Jerry Green, all talented players who had signed with Irvine. They won the league title.

"I'm looking forward to this season," Jones said. "I feel a lot more confident with last year behind me."

Jones, who started 22 of 27 games last season, made big strides early but learning on the job was exhausting.

Jones had 17 points against New Mexico State, leading a second-half comeback that gave the Anteaters their first victory in Las Cruces since 1985. The next two games he made the key plays and baskets to help Irvine sweep Idaho and Boise State, putting the Anteaters in first place.

A week later, they played Pacific.

Said Jones: "If a guy comes out on me, I can fake him. I'm working on coming off screens better. I know what to expect now."

*

The women's basketball team is off to a painful start.

* Sophomore forward Krissy Duperron is out for the season and her third knee surgery in three years is scheduled for November.

* Junior point guard Megan Stafford has had swelling in her left foot. She was slowed at the end of last season by a stress fracture in the same foot.

* Sophomore forward Tamara Kataroyan has a sore shoulder.

* Freshman forward Megan Nugent has tendinitis in her knee.

"I think we're going to have good depth," Coach Mark Adams said. "At least, I thought so before this week."

*

Shaun Callahan was the answer to the Anteater men's soccer team's recent scoring drought. Irvine had lost four consecutive 1-0 games to Division I opponents when Callahan was moved from sweeper back to forward two weeks ago.

The Anteaters scored three goals in the next two games. Callahan assisted on two of them. "I love it," Callahan said. "I want to score goals. It's pretty hard to do that from sweeper."

Callahan managed. He had one goal this season. He scored five goals last season, but was moved to sweeper this year to help strengthen the Anteater defense.

"We needed to get some goals," Coach George Kuntz said. "Shaun was a junior college All-American as a forward. It was an easy decision."

*

Baltimore Oriole outfielder Brady Anderson, who played at Irvine, has donated a weight room to the Anteater track and cross-country programs. Anderson is close to Irvine track and cross-country coach Vince O'Boyle, the only coach left from Anderson's days at Irvine.

Anderson underwrote the project and former Irvine track star Steve Odgers--the Chicago White Sox's director of conditioning--outfitted a room in a equipment shed next to the track. Anderson, Odgers and White Sox pitcher Jim Abbott will use the room for off-season workouts.

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