After covering the Big West Conference for the 3 seasons now, I’ve been able to develop relationships with nearly every Men’s & Women’s Basketball coach in the conference. I’ve also learned which jobs in the league are the most challenging, as well as which coaches have the best competitive situations at their respective university. In most coaching opinions, UC Riverside is hands down the most difficult job in the Big West. For that reason, I have a high level of respect for the coaching ability of both Coach Dennis Cutts (MBB Head Coach) as well as Coach John Margaritis (WBB Head Coach). Amidst difficult circumstances (budget, location, scholarship, administrative support, etc.), these coaches are raising their programs to high levels.
Last season, both programs were picked to finish last (or near last) in the Big West. The Men’s Basketball program finished 14-17 , good for 7-9 in conference play. This season, they have been preseason picked to finish 5th in conference play, anchored by two Player of the Year candidates. The Women’s Basketball program surprised everyone last year, finishing 17-14 and 8-8 in conference play with 3 All-Conference selections (including the Player of the Year). They have been preseason selected 2nd this season, which is quite the turnaround from a year ago.
When Myles Andrews-Duve of the Highlander Student Newspaper asked me to chime in with my thoughts of each program heading into the season, I gladly accepted. The folks at UC Riverside have been very gracious to me and I’m happy to give back in any way I can.
See both articles here: