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Thursday, November 10, 2011
Meet the least experienced team in America

By Diamond Leung

To the coaches out there complaining about youth and inexperience on the roster, cut it out. You've got nothing on UC Irvine.

Because of transfers and an ineligible player, the Anteaters in fact have the least experience of any Division I team in the country, according to the Orange County Register.
In UCI's case, its 13 players -- including eight freshmen and no seniors -- have a total of nine years of experience, for an average of 0.69. Redshirt sophomore center John Ryan, a transfer from Fresno State who is not eligible to play this season, moved the Anteaters to the top of the list because his experience doesn't yet count.

Navy is the second-youngest team (0.70), followed by Cal State Northridge (0.75), Texas Tech (0.75), Toledo (0.77) and Saint Joseph's (0.80.)

You might as well be No. 1 in something.

"I joke around and say Michigan had the Fab Five and went to the national championship game (in 1992)," second-year UCI coach Russell Turner said Tuesday after practice at Crawford Hall. "We have the Inexperienced Eight."

Turner's team was picked by the media to finish last in the Big West because of all the inexperience. It hasn't helped that the Anteaters got bad breaks when Eric Wise transferred to USC and former top recruit Maxime Chupin was ruled ineligible by the NCAA due to his participation with a club team in France.

That said, there is plenty to like about UC Irvine. Top returning scorer Michael Wilder might have the best hairstyle in the nation. Center Adam Folker is back in action after missing last season due to injury. And freshman Collin Woods, representing the future of the team, came through with team-leading in the Anteaters' final exhibition game heading into their season opener against Cal on Friday.

If there's a lovable underdog quality to UC Irvine, Anteaters fan Kobe Bryant, who trains at the school, has certainly picked up on it.