Who To Watch For This Winter Season

    Column: Full Court Press
    Brandon Yu

    As the oft-doomed Sean Bean once proclaimed (because what are competitive sports but an annual game of thrones, after all?), “Prepare yourself. Winter is coming.” And with the arrival of the winter season of UCSD athletics comes the promise of great moments to be made by those in uniforms of blue and gold. Bolstering that anticipation are many Triton athletes who are poised to have spectacular seasons and to lead their respective UCSD squads to new heights. Take a look at just a handful of these players (arranged in no particular order) who I am excited to watch in the coming months.

    #1 Farrah Shokoor: Some months ago, junior forward Farrah Shokoor had absolutely no affiliation with UCSD. The San Diego native had spent her past two seasons playing for the California Collegiate Athletic Association’s perennial bottom-dwelling San Francisco State University. Then she transferred to UCSD this year and, in only 13 games for the Tritons, has emerged as perhaps their most reliable and dominant starter. Shokoor is leading the basketball team in points per game (15.3), rebounds per game (12.2), blocks and steals. With UCSD currently riding a five-game winning streak and finding its rhythm as one of the CCAA’s top contenders, Shokoor’s stock is only looking to rise.

    #2 Drew Dyer: After a strong season last year, junior forward Drew Dyer has stepped up his game in a necessary time. The Tritons are without any seniors, and the 6-foot-6-inch player has emerged as a veteran leader. He leads UCSD in points per game (13.4) and has dramatically improved his shooting percentage from beyond the arc (29–58, 0.500), free-throw line (32–37, 0.865) and overall from the field (50–102, 0.490). But Dyer’s rise is really only indicative of a strong collective Triton effort. While UCSD was pegged to be somewhat doomed in the conference this season, the Tritons appear to slowly be hitting their stride. With Dyer at the helm of a solid ensemble, UCSD is presenting itself as the CCAA’s true dark horse.  

    #3 Jolene Guiliana: While the spotlight for the women’s water polo team has been fixated upon superstar Sarah Lizotte over the past few seasons, senior attacker Jolene Guiliana has quietly been honing her abilities and getting better every year. Last season, Guiliana put up an all-around performance of 73 goals, 51 assists and 46 steals, only further solidifying her incredibly capable abilities on both ends of the pool. With Lizotte now gone, the Tritons have a hole to fill in the category of definitive leader. But all indications point toward Guiliana seizing that role and thriving in it.

    #4 Troy Cruz: Last season, junior infielder and pitcher Troy Cruz was the only Triton to start in every single game for the UCSD men’s baseball team. But he did not only make an impact as a consistent starter — Cruz was spectacular both as an infielder and as a pitcher. He batted an impressive 0.329 and amazingly went on to post a 2.90 ERA with an 8–3 record as a starting pitcher through a team-high 87.0 innings on the mound — and this all in only his sophomore season. Cruz was impressively good, but as he enters his junior year, he is bound to only get better.

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