Campus Canvass

Juric a nice fit at Davis

By: Ray Hacke Journal Sports Writer
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UC Davis women’s basketball coach Sandy Simpson calls Lauren Juric “an unusual player.” And he means it as a compliment. Juric, a 2007 graduate of Bear River High, is a 6-foot-2 redshirt freshman who plays wing for the Aggies. “That’s big for a wing, even for a guard,” Simpson said. “She can shoot from 3-point range, but she can also get to the basket and score around the hoop. She’s a difficult matchup.” The matchup problems Juric’s versatility presents can give opposing coaches headaches, according to Simpson. “She can score inside or out, and you don’t see a lot of players who can do that,” the coach said. “Most do one or the other. She does both. “How do you guard Lauren? If (other teams) put a smaller player on her, we’ll run her inside. If they put a bigger player on her, we’ll have them chase her on the outside.” A centerpiece of Bear River’s back-to-back Sac-Joaquin Section Division IV championship teams of 2006 and 2007, Juric went from being the Pioneer Valley League’s 2007 MVP to not playing at all while redshirting last season at UC Davis. She probably would have seen playing time had the NCAA not granted another player a sixth year of eligibility, Simpson said. “It was hard to practice and then sit through games,” Juric admitted. Still, Juric — who wound up breaking three fingers on her hand and would likely have missed significant playing time anyway — found her redshirt season beneficial. She had a firsthand opportunity to observe a team on the rise — the Aggies made it to the championship game of the Big West Conference Tournament in their first year of postseason eligibility. “Our offense is really intricate, and so is our defense,” Juric said. “I had an extra year to learn all that. This year it’s been easier because I can focus on other things rather than on learning the offense.” Juric started in three of UC Davis’ four games prior to Wednesday night’s home contest against No. 25 Arizona State, averaging 7.5 points and 5.3 rebounds in 26.8 minutes of playing time in those four games. Her best scoring night came on Nov. 25, when she netted 11 points in a home win over the University of San Francisco. “She’s a really good shooter, passer and ballhandler,” said Jeff Bickmore, Juric’s coach at Bear River. “She does a lot of good things for a girl her size. She’s worked really hard, and for her to be starting as a freshman is an honor.” “There’s a great deal of potential there,” Simpson said. “If she applies herself — and I don’t see any indicators that she won’t — she could be one of the best who’s ever played here at UC Davis.”