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Campus Canvass

Riecks steps right in at Davis

Placer grad helping injury-plagued Aggies build on their success
By: Ray Hacke Journal Sports Writer
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Had things gone as UC Davis coach Sandy Simpson envisioned, Kasey Riecks would have grown into a starting role with the Aggies’ women’s basketball team — eventually. “Eventually” came a lot sooner than expected. Not only has Riecks started in all 18 of UC Davis’ games as a freshman this season — logging an average of 29.8 minutes per game, sometimes more — she has excelled on the court. The 2008 Placer High graduate is among the Aggies’ leaders in a variety of categories and has helped an injury-plagued squad remain above .500 in Big West Conference play. “We had some players go down for the season, and it was an opportunity for her to step up,” Simpson said. “She’s really exceeded our first-year expectations. “I’m excited — she can only get better from here.” Simpson called Riecks’ transition from high school to the NCAA Division I level “seamless,” and Riecks’ statistics back up that statement. The 5-foot-11 guard currently ranks among UC Davis’ top five players in points per game (8.3, fourth), rebounds per game (3.1, fourth), 3-point field goals (16, third), 3-point shooting percentage (40.0, second) and assists (23, fourth). She’s also 30-for-39 at the free-throw line. Defensively, Riecks has 17 steals and four blocks. “We can’t keep her off the floor,” Simpson said. “She’s doing too many things for us.” A threat to score from the perimeter, Riecks has led the Aggies in scoring three times this season, most recently on Jan. 15, when she netted 17 points in a home loss to Cal State Fullerton. “She’s not someone you look at and say, ‘You cannot leave her open – she’ll hit the 3 every time,’” Simpson said. “She’s unimposing in a lot of ways – she’s not super-quick, she’s not lightning-fast, she doesn’t jump off the video screen at you. “But at the end, she’s got 12 points, six boards and three assists. She’s helped us immensely.” What impresses Simpson most about Riecks, however, is her demeanor on the court. “She’s got great poise for a freshman,” Simpson said. “She doesn’t get rattled out there – or at least she doesn’t appear rattled — and that allows her to perform even beyond her years.” Riecks said her success this season was unexpected, but borne of necessity. “The offense we run is really crazy,” Riecks said. “It’s difficult to learn and even more difficult to perfect. “But I kind of had to. I didn’t really have a choice because of all the injuries we had.” Riecks isn’t the only player from the Sierra foothills putting up big numbers for the Aggies. Bear River graduate Lauren Juric, whose team Riecks played against in high school, is UC Davis’ third-leading scorer (8.7 points per game) and second-leading rebounder (5.5 per game) and shot blocker (12). “I didn’t really know her in high school,” Riecks said. “But we’ve gotten to be really good friends, so it’s really cool.” Currently 4-3 in the Big West (7-11 overall), UC Davis went to the Big West Conference Tournament’s championship game last season, the first in which the Aggies were eligible for postseason play. Riecks’ goal is to help the Aggies go just as far this season, if not further. “Ultimately, our season goal is to win the Big West championship,” she said. “We’ve had close games in our (conference) losses, and in our next games we’re looking to get wins against the teams we’ve lost to so far. “We really need to be playing our best basketball at the tournament at the end of the year. I think we’ll be ready and peak at the right time.”