Team preview: UC Irvine

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(Information in this team report is as of October 1.)

The outlook at Cal Irvine is no longer guarded.

The backcourt that last season helped carry the Anteaters to an unexpected second-place finish in the Big West standings—all-conference guards Aaron Fitzgerald and Ross Schraeder—has departed, leaving a gaping crater in the lineup and only inexperienced hopefuls to fill it.

Which means coach Pat Douglass' focus has shifted drastically. After watching Fitzgerald, the two-time league assists leader, and Schraeder, the conference's top three-point gunner last season, complement each other perfectly in the backcourt, Douglass now must count on his frontcourt to provide the Anteaters' firepower until his young guards figure things out.

"I think early on we have to do that, because that's where our experience is,'' Douglass said. "But we have some good players coming in at the guard position. We just don't have the experience. We know that going in. I'd feel more uncomfortable if I didn't think they had the ability. I think they have the ability. It's just a matter of getting game experience.''