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Men's Basketball

UC Irvine Travels To Illinois As 2010-11 Men's Hoops Season Tips Off

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Men's Basketball Release No. 1


Russell Turner makes his UC Irvine head coaching debut tonight as his Anteaters travel to No. 13 Illinois for the 2K Sports Classic benefiting Coaches vs. Cancer.  The 5:00 p.m. (PST) game will be shown on ESPN3.  Long Beach State hosts No. 25 San Diego State on Saturday in another high profile non-conference matchup to begin the 2010-11 men's basketball season.



Eric Wise, UC Irvine
Wise enters his junior season needing just 45 points to reach the 1,000 point mark for his career.  The two-time All-Big West Second Team choice averaged 16.3 points, 6.5 rebounds and 3.0 assists in 2009-10.  Wise was just the second player in UCI history (and first in 37 years) to top the team in scoring, rebounding and assists.  He ranked fifth in the Big West last season in assist from the forward spot.


UC Irvine Tips Off 42nd Season Of Big West Hoops
UC Irvine is the first Big West team to commence the 42nd season of Big West men’s basketball, traveling to No. 13 Illinois for a Regional matchup in the 2K Sports Classic benefiting Coaches vs. Cancer on Monday.  The game tips off at 5:00 p.m. (PST) on ESPN3.  It is the collegiate head coaching debut for Russell Turner, who was appointed to the position on April 9 after serving six seasons as an assistant with the NBA’s Golden State Warriors.

Opening Statements
UC Santa Barbara owns a streak of seven straight wins in season openers when it takes on Denver in the first game of the BTI Invitational Tournament in Eugene, Ore. on Friday.  The defending Big West regular season and tournament champions return all five starters from last season’s 20-10 squad that fell in the NCAA Tournament first round to Ohio State.  Below is a list of Big West teams and their current streak in season openers.

Team                          Streak
Cal Poly                      Lost 4
Cal State Fullerton      Won 1
Cal State Northridge   Lost 1
Long Beach State       Won 1
UC Davis                    Lost 2
UC Irvine                    Won 1
UC Riverside              Lost 10
UC Santa Barbara      Won 7
Pacific                        Won 1

Johnson, Robinson Lead Solid Pack Of Returnees
Six of the 11 players from the 2009-10 All-Big West First and Second Teams are back in uniform this season.  UC Santa Barbara’s Orlando Johnson, the 2009-10 Big West Player of the Year, and Long Beach State’s T.J. Robinson represent the returning first-team performers.  Johnson led the Big West in scoring (18.0 ppg) while Robinson topped the league circuit in rebounding (10.1 rpg) and field goal percentage (.520).  Joe Harden of UC Davis, UC Santa Barbara’s James Nunnally, Casper Ware of Long Beach State, and UC Irvine’s Eric Wise return from the all-conference second team.

UC Santa Barbara Picked To Win 2010-11 Title
A 23-member media voting panel gave UC Santa Barbara the nod to win the 2010-11 Big West men’s basketball regular season title.  The Gauchos, which won the conference’s regular season and tournament championships last season, received 20 first-place votes and 204 points.  The Gauchos feature the return of 2009-10 Big West Player of the Year Orlando Johnson, who led the league in scoring at 18.0 points per game.  Long Beach State captured two first-place vote and 180 points for second place.  Earning 161 points and the remaining first-place vote was Pacific.  The Tigers are coming off of a 23-12 season and a run to the championship game of the 2010 Tournament.  UC Davis earned 126 points for fourth place and Cal Poly was fifth with 96.  Rounding out the poll was UC Irvine, Cal State Fullerton, Cal State Northridge and UC Riverside.

Honda Center New Home Of Tournament
Honda Center last November announced a five-year partnership with the Big West Conference to host its annual men’s and women’s post-season basketball tournament beginning in 2011.  Each year the winner of the three-day single-elimination playoff receives an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.

The Big West and Honda Center have teamed up for “March Madness” and “The Road To The Final Four” on numerous occasions including men’s basketball regionals in 1998, 2001 and 2003 and first and second round action in 2008.  In addition, the Big West and Honda Center was selected as host of the 2011 NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball West Regional.

The Big West Tournament is the oldest NCAA Division I post-season basketball tournament in the west, dating back to 1976 when the conference was known as the Pacific Coast Athletic Association.

All-session tickets for the 2011 Big West Tournament may be purchased at  For more information, please call (714) 704-2500 or email  Courtside (first 4 rows) all-session tickets cost $144 apiece.  All other all-session tickets cost $64 apiece.

Thomason Approaching Big West Wins Record
Entering his 23rd season as head coach at Pacific, Bob Thomason is poised to rewrite the Big West history book.  Thomason, who owns a career mark of 387-275, is only 19 wins shy from becoming the Big West’s all-time leader.  He is chasing current record holder Jerry Tarkanian’s mark of 405 victories amassed at Long Beach State and UNLV.

Thomason’s teams have averaged 22 wins over the last seven seasons.  The 2009-10 squad sported a 23-12 record, the ninth time the Tigers have accumulated 20 or more wins in Thomason’s tenure.  The Big West’s longest-tenured coach - past or present - already owns the record for most wins in conference games with 221.

Williams One Win Away From Milestone
Head coach Bob Williams needs one win to reach career milestone No. 200 at UC Santa Barbara.  The 13th-year mentor is 199-156 on the Central Coast.  The 199 wins place him fifth on the Big West all-time wins list.  Next up on the list is former Gaucho Jerry Pimm, who Williams succeeded in 1998 after Pimm won 222 games in 15 seasons.

Rk.    Coach, School                                 No.
1.      Jerry Tarkanian, LBSU & UNLV        405
2.      Bob Thomason, Pacific                     387
3.      Neil McCarthy, New Mexico State     248
4.      Jerry Pimm, UC Santa Barbara        222
5.      Bob Williams, UC Santa Barbara      199

Bold denotes active Big West head coach

Follow Your Team On BigWest.TV
The Big West Conference and the CBS College Sports Network are partnering to bring you exclusive coverage of Big West sports, press conferences, interviews, and features to your home via the Internet!  Now in its sixth year, BigWest.TV covers every home and conference contest in men’s basketball as well as women’s basketball and volleyball.  Also covered are select contests in men’s and women’s soccer, baseball, softball, and Big West Conference Championships.  A monthly subscription of $9.95 or an annual subscription of $79.95 delivers exclusive coverage to you.  If you can’t make it to the gym or the field, you can still catch all the action on BigWest.TV!