John Sykes has been trying to keep his team’s eyes on the light at the end of the tunnel.
The third-year UC Merced men’s basketball coach loaded up the Bobcats’ nonconference schedule again, and the team struggled.
UC Merced opened the year 1-14, surrendering a troubling 90 points per game during the span. But even as his squad took its lumps, Sykes remained confident it would grow from the challenge.
“It’s the only way we were going to get better,” Sykes said. “We could have scheduled easier and done really well, but then gone 0-12 in conference. The goal was to get us ready for the (California Pacific Conference), and I believe we’ve done that.”
Senior guard George Idehen leads the team with 11.1 points and 7.6 rebounds per game. Fellow senior Martin Harris has already made a big impact (10 ppg) in his five games back after completing an internship in Washington D.C. Without a lot of star power, the team is going to need balanced offensive contributions – and to whittle the 88.6 ppg it’s allowing – if it wants to compete for a Cal Pac crown.
UC Merced women
Contrary to its 1-11 start, Kevin Pham’s UCM women’s basketball team is vastly improved in its second year of existence.
The Bobcats’ losses are much more competitive than a year ago, and Shelby Howard (15 ppg) is no longer the only scoring threat. Leticia Oceguera (8.3 ppg) and Alexis Wu (7.9 ppg) have become regular contributors, and Pham is getting improved bench minutes.
Has Pham’s squad come far enough to compete in an improved Cal Pac? It just missed the Cal Pac tournament a year ago, and has its sights set on a top-four finish.