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Women's Basketball: Anteaters ready to take their shot(s)

UCI, which last won a Big West Tournament game in 2005 and missed last year's tourney, aims to open up offense.

October 30, 2013|By Barry Faulkner
  • UC Irvine senior Camille Buckley (24) averaged 11.9 points and 11.5 rebounds in conference games as a junior.
UC Irvine senior Camille Buckley (24) averaged 11.9 points… (KEVIN CHANG, Daily…)

When you have the kind of year the UC Irvine women's basketball team did last season, looking back is hardly advisable. But when it comes to envisioning a brighter future, second-year coach Doug Oliver also doesn't want his players looking over their shoulders.

So, Oliver has effectively issued a universal green light to bombard the basket with shots this season, hoping to improve upon a woeful offensive output in 2012-13, when the Anteaters were 9-21, 5-13 in the Big West Conference and failed to qualify for the eight-team Big West Conference tournament that began in their own arena.

"I made a mistake last year," said Oliver, whose team finished ninth in the then-10-team Big West in scoring (53.9 per game), field-goal percentage (34.1%), assists and assist-to-turnover ratio. "I allowed us to settle into being a half-court basketball team both offensively and defensively. And when you struggle offensively, it puts way too much pressure on every possession. This year, for the most part we're spacing the floor and if someone is open, they shoot it. One of our philosophies is: When in doubt, shoot. And always be in doubt."

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There is little doubt the 2013-14 Anteaters boast one of the most experienced rosters in recent memory. Among the seven seniors is 6-foot-1 forward Camille Buckley, who earned second-team all-conference recognition last season when she averaged a team-leading 11.4 points and 9.9 rebounds, the latter tops in the Big West.

Point guard Jennifer Tsurumoto, who averaged 10.1 points and led the team in assists (83) and turnovers (108), is also back for her final collegiate campaign, as is fifth-year senior Jazmyne White, who has missed nearly the last 1 1/2 seasons with a torn ACL. White, the Big West Freshman of the Year in 2010, is fully healthy and should bring productivity to the starting lineup this season, Oliver said.

Senior guard Kelly Meggs (6.8 points per game and a team-best 50 three-pointers last season), senior forward Jasmine Bernard (5.6 points and 2.7 rebounds), junior forward Methlyn Onogomuho (4.8 points and 4.0 rebounds) and sophomore forward Mokun Fajemisin (4.0 points and 3.6 rebounds) round out last season's top six scorers, all of whom return.

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