Friday, February 7, 2020

UCI vs. UCSB Men's Basketball Game Preview, by Gaucho Dan

UC Irvine at UCSB
Saturday, February 8, 2020, 7 pm PST, ESPU
Quick Bite
The pre-season Big West favorites meet for the first time, with UCI storming out to a 3-game lead on struggling Santa Barbara. Realistically, the Gauchos need to sweep Irvine for any chance to win the regular-season title. Conversely, Irvine enters a stretch of play where they could salt away the championship. Biggest game of the season so far, at least from the Gauchos' perspective.

By the Numbers
note, the per-game stats for UCSB are not updated

UC Irvine UC Santa Barbara
Record 15-9 15-8
Away/Home/Neutral (D1) 4-7 (A) 7-3 (H)
Big West Conference 7-1 4-4
Record vs. Quadrant vs. Q4: 8-4 vs. Q2: 1-2
Composite (NET, kpi, sor, bpi, pom, sag) 124 178
DCI 102 178
DC2 108 166
RPI 137 199
NET 111 168
SOS (NET) 208 335
KPom Offensive Efficiency 128 86
KPom Defensive Efficiency 118 251
KPom Tempo 177 334
Points per game (overall/BWC) 74.8 (89th) / 75.1 (2nd) 72.2 (153rd) / 67.4 (8th)
FG% (overall/BWC) 46.8% (35th) / 48.0% (2nd) 46.8% (39th) / 45.2% (3rd)
2-pt FG% (overall/BWC) 52.6% (74th) / 54.2% (1st) 53.5% (49th) / 50.2% (4th)
3-pt FG% (overall/BWC) 33.3% (183rd) / 33.3% (9th) 34.4% (123rd) / 36.8% (4th)
FT% (overall/BWC) 74.0% (78th) / 70.4% (5th) 75.9% (37th) / 77.1% (2nd)
Points allowed per game (overall/BWC) 65.7 (88th) / 62.8 (1st) 66.9 (112th) / 65.3 (2nd)
FG% allowed (overall/BWC) 37.6% (9th) / 37.3% (1st) 45.1% (289th) / 46.9% (8th)
2-pt FG% allowed (overall/BWC) 39.0% (1st) / 39.2% (1st) 50.3% (235th) / 52.3% (8th)
3-pt FG% allowed (overall/BWC) 35.1% (289th) / 33.1% (1st) 36.0% (316th) / 36.3% (6th)
Off. rebounds per game (overall/BWC) 11.8 (31st) / 12.4 (1st) 10.3 (175th) / 8.4 (7th)
Def. rebounds allowed per game (overall/BWC) 21.4 (55th) / 21.6 (3rd) 21.3 (10th) / 21.6 (1st)
Off. rebounds allowed per game (overall/BWC) 9.3 (177th) / 9.5 (6th) 7.6 (12th) / 6.9 (2nd)
Def. rebounds per game (overall/BWC) 28.9 (7th) / 28.4 (1st) 24.5 (277th) / 22.7 (8th)
Rebounds per game (overall/BWC) 40.7 (4th) / 40.8 (1st) 34.8 (250th) / 31.1 (8th)
Rebounds allowed per game (overall/BWC) 30.6 (76th) / 31.1 (4th) 28.9 (6th) / 28.4 (2nd)
Assists per game (overall/BWC) 10.2 (58th) / 7.9 (2nd) 11.8 (98th) / 12.3 (3rd)
Steals per game (overall/BWC) 5.5 (105th) / 4.6 (3rd) 4.5 (6th) / 3.4 (1st)
Blocks per game (overall/BWC) 2.7 (106th) / 2.8 (3rd) 2.4 (21st) / 2.3 (2nd)
Best win (NET) @ Boise State (91) @ UT Arlington (126)
Worst loss (NET) @ Long Beach State (307) Long Beach State (307)
Trend won 4 straight, 7 of 8 won 2 straight, 3 of 4

UCSB - UC Irvine History
UCSB and UC Irvine have played 93 times with the Gauchos holding a 52-41 all-time advantage. The Anteaters swept the season series a year ago, winning 83-70 in Orange County and 66-62 in overtime at the Thunderdome. Dating back to the 2017-18 season, UCI has won the last four meetings between the schools, including a 61-58 decision in the 2017-18 Big West Tournament.

Head Coach
Russell Turner was named UC Irvine's head coach April 9, 2010, after serving the previous six seasons as an assistant coach for the Golden State Warriors of the National Basketball Association following positions at Stanford University and Wake Forest University. Turner is now in his 10th season as head coach, having guided the Anteaters to 203 wins and postseason appearances in 6 of 9 complete seasons (2013 CIT, 2014 NIT, 2015 NCAA, 2016 CIT, 2017 NIT and 2019 NCAA). Turner is now the winningest head coach in UCI history.

He led UCI to a record-breaking 2018-19 season as the Anteaters broke school records in overall wins (31), longest winning steak (17 games) and tied a program best 15-1 mark in Big West play. Turner guided the Anteaters to their second Big West Conference Tournament title and second NCAA Tournament appearance. UCI won its first-ever NCAA Tournament game defeating fourth-seeded Kansas State 70-64.

Known as a big man guru, he helped Jonathan Galloway become the Big West's first-ever three time Defensive Player of the Year recipient. He also coached the 7'6" Mamadou N'Diaye, who was the tallest man in college basketball during his playing years. He currently has three solid big men (Rutherford, Greene and Welp) that are significant contributors.

Turner also served as a coach for the Warriors' summer-league entry in Las Vegas for five seasons. He has been an active participant in the NBA's international outreach camps, including Basketball without Borders, representing the league in Turkey, China and Lithuania. BWB is a program that uses basketball to create positive social change in education, health and wellness.

Turner was a member of Mike Montgomery's Stanford University staff from 2000-04 when the Cardinal had a combined overall record of 105-24 (.814), including 59-13 (.819) in Pac-10 play. Prior to Stanford, Turned worked under Dave Odom as an assistant at Wake Forest University from 1994-2000. The Demon Deacons won 161 games in those six seasons, advancing to the NCAA tournament three times, including the Midwest Regional final in 1996. Tim Duncan was a three-time All-American during Turner's tenure at Wake Forest. He is a native of Roanoke, Va.

He has long been rumored to be in line for a Pac-12 or ACC head coaching position, but comments perceived as homophobic that surfaced after last season's NCAA Tournament loss may have scared some schools off. In what may have been the worst post-game press conference in tournament history, Turner bragged about calling an opposing player “Queen”, creating a significant media storm.  To his credit, Turner owned the mistake and worked hard to reach out to the Irvine community afterwards. 

He is one of the more demonstrative Big West coaches along the sidelines, and notoriously strutted like a rooster as the Anteaters wrapped up an overtime victory at the Thunderdome last season.

Probable Starters
  • Brad Greene (55) SR, C, 6-10, 320, Lone Pine, CA, Lone Pine HS, 8.8 Pts, 7.2 Reb, 0.8 Ast. Overweight earlier in his career, he has transformed his large frame into a formidable force. Is 15-of-23 in his last two games for 35 points. Has a decent hook shot. Shooting 59% from two, 56.5% from FT line. Leads team with 29 blocks. Grabs a team-best 20.3 rebounds per 100 possessions. Pulled down 21 rebounds vs. Hawai'i. Has six double-doubles this season. Is prone to foul trouble (8.5 fouls per 100 possessions and 6 per 40 minutes).
  • Tommy Rutherford (42) SR, F, 6-8, 220, El Cajon, CA, Grossmont HS, 10.1 Pts, 4.2 Reb, 0.7 Ast. A 2-time all-conference selection. UCI's active games-played leader at 132 consecutive games. Makes 66.4% of his shots from two, and has good hands (just 3.6 turnovers per 100 possessions). Has 30 points in last two games. Not nearly the rebounder or blocker that Greene is. Is the 30th Anteaters to score 1,000 points. Is 2nd active in Big West in career rebounds (643). Averages 6.9 fouls per 100 possessions and 4.9 per 40 minutes.
  • Evan Leonard (14) SR, G, 6-1, 190, Cerritos, CA, Cerritos HS, 11.6 Pts, 3.7 Reb, 2.1 Ast. Averaging 13.9 ppg in conference after averaging 9.9 ppg in non-con. Takes the most threes on the team (5.4) but hits just 26.5% of them. This after shooting 3's at a .405 clip the last two seasons. 51-of-61 from FT line (.836). 
  • John Edgar Jr. (11) SR, F, 6-5, 217, Chino Hills, CA, Ayala HS, 6.6 Pts, 4.7 Reb, 1.7 Ast. Fourth or fifth option on offense, but tends to play within himself. Usage is just 17.7%.
  • Eyassu Worku (24) SR, G, 6-2, 170, Artesia, CA, Los Alamitos HS, 11.9 Pts, 2.5 Reb, 4.0 Ast. Ranked 48th nationally in assist/turnover ratio at 2.29. Is the 29th Anteater to reach 1,000 career points. Is the 10th Anteater to reach 300 assists. 42.1% overall from 2 overall, but 57.1% in conference. Hitting 41.1% from three (3.8 attempts per game). 74.1% from FT line. Leads team with 8.1 assists per 100 possessions. Plays a team-high 28 minutes per game.
Key Reserves
  • Collin Welp (40) SO, F, 6-9, 235, Seattle, WA, Seattle Prep, 13.8 Pts, 6.3 Reb, 2.0 Ast. Leads team in scoring. Had a career-high 18 rebounds against Detroit Mercy and has posted five double-doubles on the season. He finished with a career-high 31 points and 7 three's made against Eastern Michigan (Nov. 30). Is an excellent passer (16.8% assist percentage, 4.6 assists per 100 possessions). High usage when he is in game (26.6%). Dangerous from three (43.3%). Son of the late Christian Welp (U-Dub's all-time leading scorer).
  • Jeron Artest (15) FR, G, 6-3, 184, Scottsdale, AZ, Bella Vista Prep, 3.0 Pts, 1.1 Reb, 0.8 Ast. One of two sons of Metta World Peace playing in the Big West this season. Makes just 40.7% of his twos, 30.8% of threes and 42.9% of FT's. Will come in to spell Edgar at the 3, which has been a flawed position in the Irvine offense. Usage is just 15.7%.
  • Isaiah Lee (5) FR, G, 6-2, 190, 3.2 Pts, 2.2 Reb, 2.6 Ast. Takes 2/3rds of his shots from 3 on low volume (2 attempts per game), making 35%. Makes just 33% from elsewhere, but is a good 80% from FT line (15 attempts). Averages 7.5 assists per 100 possessions. Prone to turnovers (a horrid 37.3 per 100 possessions).
  • Austin Johnson (13) FR, F, 6-9, 223, Marietta, GA, Wheeler HS, 4.7 Pts, 3.4 Reb, 0.2 Ast. Very good inside player (.638 from two). Can't stay on floor (12.9 minutes per game) with high foul rate (team-high 7.2 fouls per 40 minutes, 10.3 fouls per 100 possessions). Also turns the ball over a lot (26.3 per 100 possessions).
Match-up overview:
The Anteaters are firmly in control of the Big West race at the halfway point of the season, and look to be figuring out how to play without Max Hazzard...who decided to transfer as a graduate to Arizona and ride the pine. This could have been a borderline top-25 team had Hazzard stuck around. As it is, they seem to be gathering steam as they lay waste to the conference. They now enter probably the toughest stretch of their season. After its road trip to UCSB, it travels to UCR, Hawai'i and CSUN while hosting Long Beach State (its only loss). They lead the nation in rebound margin at 10.1. They have struggled to put together 40-minute more than a few non-conference losses the Anteaters fell way behind before rallying to make it respectable, and in their last game vs. Davis they nearly blew a 20-point lead and needed to make their FT's to post the victory.

UCSB enters the second half of conference play also rounding into form. Amadou Sow shrugged off early foul trouble and a tweaked ankle to score 30 points on 12-of-13 shooting, including 2-for-2 from three. Sow's best play, however, may have been a pass to a cutting-up-the-key Matt Freeman out of a double team. He has a history of success vs. Hawai'i, but it may be a different story vs. Irvine's big men. Sow did shoot 10-of-17 last season vs. Irvine, scoring 25 points. But he managed just 9 rebounds in 58 minutes of play while picking up 8 fouls. His quickness was too much for the UH 7-footers. JaQuori McLaughlin seemed to be more active in the Hawai'i game as he continues to recover from a groin injury. He took all nine of his shots from inside the perimeter, but he didn't get to the foul line. In fairness, the refs seemed to be swallowing their whistles on any guards driving into traffic (Max Heidegger may have an opinion on this). Well, Matt Freeman didn't hit 6 threes. He was just 2-of-9 from the field. Freeman seemed frantic in the UCSB offense vs. Hawai'i. He could have been called for a moving screen almost every time down the floor, and he eventually fouled out on a forced attempt to get the ball to the red-hot Sow. But he garnered 6 rebounds, had a blocked shot and a steal. Robinson Idehen hit all 4 of his shots and 3-of-4 from the FT line for 11 points, 4 rebounds, 2 assists in just 16 minutes. He helped keep UCSB ahead while Sow sat. The Gauchos shot 56% from the field in an efficient offensive performance.

Keys to the game for the Gauchos 
  • Sow vs. Irvine's bigs. Can Sow's quickness be an asset, or will he be small to get his shots off. On defense, can he guard them without getting into foul trouble. Will Irvine double him? If so, will the Gauchos help him by cutting to the basket/open spot?
  • We know Heidegger will go right at Irvine's bigs. Will he get the calls to get them into foul trouble? Can he finish amongst the trees? Will he draw a lot of attention on the perimeter?
  • Activate McLaughlin. J-Roq was playing his best when Heidegger was sitting out with his concussion and before his own injury. Since his return, he has shied away from the drives that opened up his offensive game. If Heidegger or Sow draws double teams, can McLaughlin take advantage?
  • Freeman, et al, hits 3's. UCSB has won 11 straight games in which Freeman has hit 40% or better from 3. If the trees prevent our guards from driving, we're going to need to hit these outside shots to stay connected.
  • Who guards Welp? Is this a game where Idehen starts, and UCSB trys to stay big? Or does he stay with Freeman, whose defense is not his strong suit? Can Freeman guard a Welp or Rutherford, or does Sow need to take that matchup leaving Greene for Freeman? This is where Irvine kills you, and we probably don't have a really good answer here.
  • Bench play. Pasternack has tightened up the rotation, with the starters getting 30+ minutes unless they are in foul trouble. Idehen is a proven contributor off the bench, Can a Nagle, or Cyrus or Toure have a breakout performance?
  • Rebounding. Hey, we're not that bad ourselves at 32nd in the nation in rebounding margin. Irvine gets a strong 35.5% of all rebounds when it's on offense, while we are a very good 76.3% defending against offensive rebounds. When UCSB is on offense, it gets 32.6% of all rebounds while Irvine grabs 75.7% of its defensive rebounds. It's strength on strength, but you have to give the edge to UCI here based on strength of schedule.
DC2 trends: UCSB's 5-game trend has perked up to a 43.67, while Irvine is a solid 55.79 in the last 5 and an outstanding 61.45 in its last 10. Irvine is a veteran squad that travels well, and won't be intimidated in the Thunderdome or on national TV. The Anteaters have more depth, more size and more balance. Sow and Heidegger will need help if the Gauchos are going to trip up the Big West leaders. My prediction? It's close, but Irvine prevails 65-63.

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Sow's Career Night Propels Gauchos Past Hawai'i, 76-66
Amadou Sow dunks for two of his career-high 30 points in Thursday's win over Hawai'i. (Photo by Jeff Liang)

Gauchos Cut Open UC Irvine, Sweep Season Series in 67-57 Win
Ila Lane (Photo by Jeff Liang)

Wednesday, February 5, 2020

Gauchos Host Hawai'i Thursday to Begin Important Big West Week
Brandon Cyrus (Photo by Jeff Liang)

Hawaii vs. UCSB Men's Basketball Game Preview, by Gaucho Dan

Hawai'i at UCSB
Thursday, February 6, 2020, 7 pm PST, BigWest.TV
Quick Bite
The State of the University of California, Santa Barbara men's basketball squad is...better, following a 25-point schlonging of the Long Beach State The Beach.  The difference in the two games vs. the basketball players formerly known as the 49ers caused me to stand up and ceremoniously tear up my notes. Going forward, it appears to be which Gaucho team shows up to play.

By the Numbers                                                              

Hawai'i UC Santa Barbara
Record 14-6 14-8
Away/Home/Neutral (D1) 1-3 (A) 6-3 (H)
Big West Conference 5-1 3-4
Record vs. Quadrant vs. Q3: 2-1 vs. Q4: 11-3
Composite (NET, kpi, sor, bpi, pom, sag) 154 184
DCI 179 202
DC2 192 170
RPI 164 212
NET 177 178
SOS (NET) 247 341
KPom Offensive Efficiency 190 89
KPom Defensive Efficiency 176 253
KPom Tempo 128 336
Points per game (overall/BWC) 71.3 (179th) / 71.0 (4th) 72.2 (152nd) / 67.4 (7th)
FG% (overall/BWC) 44.2% (152nd) / 43.1% (6th) 46.8% (37th) / 45.2% (4th)
2-pt FG% (overall/BWC) 50.6% (144th) / 48.6% (5th) 53.5% (51st) / 50.2% (4th)
3-pt FG% (overall/BWC) 34.4% (129th) / 34.5% (7th) 34.4% (126th) / 36.8% (5th)
FT% (overall/BWC) 69.6% (208th) / 64.8% (9th) 75.9% (37th) / 77.1% (1st)
Points allowed per game (overall/BWC) 68.2 (149th) / 69.5 (4th) 66.9 (114th) / 65.3 (2nd)
FG% allowed (overall/BWC) 43.4% (211th) / 45.9% (7th) 45.1% (290th) / 46.9% (8th)
2-pt FG% allowed (overall/BWC) 47.5% (127th) / 49.6% (4th) 50.3% (237th) / 52.3% (8th)
3-pt FG% allowed (overall/BWC) 32.8% (168th) / 35.6% (5th) 36.0% (315th) / 36.3% (6th)
Off. rebounds per game (overall/BWC) 9.5 (284th) / 9.8 (3rd) 10.3 (158th) / 8.4 (3rd)
Def. rebounds allowed per game (overall/BWC) 24.2 (28th) / 26.3 (3rd) 21.3 (15th) / 21.6 (1st)
Off. rebounds allowed per game (overall/BWC) 8.4 (14th) / 6.2 (1st) 7.6 (14th) / 6.9 (3rd)
Def. rebounds per game (overall/BWC) 24.8 (321st) / 26.0 (9th) 24.5 (255th) / 22.7 (8th)
Rebounds per game (overall/BWC) 34.3 (331st) / 35.8 (9th) 34.8 (227th) / 31.1 (8th)
Rebounds allowed per game (overall/BWC) 32.5 (13th) / 32.5 (1st) 28.9 (8th) / 28.4 (2nd)
Assists per game (overall/BWC) 9.6 (6th) / 8.2 (1st) 11.8 (117th) / 12.3 (4th)
Steals per game (overall/BWC) 6.8 (146th) / 5.2 (3rd) 4.5 (9th) / 3.4 (1st)
Blocks per game (overall/BWC) 3.0 (59th) / 3.8 (5th) 2.4 (28th) / 2.3 (2nd)
Best win (NET) vs. San Francisco (85) @ UT Arlington (118)
Worst loss (NET) vs. South Dakota (171) vs. Long Beach State (293)
Trend won 4 straight, won 6 of 7 won 1 straight, won 2 of 3

UCSB - Hawai'i History
UCSB and Hawai'i have officially played 24 times with each team having won 12 times. Last season, the Gauchos cruised to a 75-54 win on Oahu and a 79-61 victory at the Thunderdome. On Jan. 18, Hawai'i won 70-63 at Stan Sheriff to end a 3-game losing skid to UCSB.

Head Coach
Eran Ganot, 38, is in his 5th season (83-49) at the helm of Hawai'i men's basketball. Ganot has won more games (77) in his first four seasons than any other coach at UH. In his first year, Ganot led Hawai’i to both the Big West regular-season and tournament titles, a school-record 28 wins and an opening-round upset of California for the program’s first-ever win in the Big Dance. Ganot also claimed Big West Coach of the Year honors after enjoying the most successful inaugural season of any coach in the history of the conference. Prior to becoming UH’s head coach, he enjoyed two successful assistant-coaching stints at Saint Mary’s. In between his two stints at Saint Mary’s, Ganot was on the staff at Hawai'i under Riley Wallace and then Bob Nash.

Probable Starters
  • Eddie Stansberry (3), SR, G, 6-3, 190, San Francisco, CA, Archbishop Riordan (CA), 17.0 Pts, 3.2 Reb, 1.4 Ast. Won Big West Player of the Week for the third time this season after scoring 22 points vs. CSUN. Hit game-winning 3-pointer vs. UC Davis. Held to 6 points in first meeting with UCSB. Prolific 3-point shooter (35% on 9 attempts per game). 89% at FT line. Does not get a lot of rebounds (just 4.9 per 100 possessions).
  • Zigmars Raimo (14), SR, F, 6-8, 230, Madona, Latvia, Riga Secondary School, 9.8 Pts, 7.4 Reb, 3.7 Ast. Leads team in steals per 100 possessions (2.8), and doesn't get into foul trouble. Sow has had success vs. him in post. Not a remarkable rebounder, and hits just 47.5% of his twos. Not a threat from three (25% on less than 1 attempt per game). Had 20 pts vs. CSUN.
  • Drew Buggs (1), JR, G, 6-3, 195, Long Beach, CA, Long Beach Polytechnic High School, 9.5 Pts, 4.2 Reb, 6.3 Ast. Leads the Big West and ranks 20th nationally in assists per game. In the last three games he has 33 assists to four turnovers. Just 12 assists away from breaking the school's all-time assists record currently held by Troy Bowe (412). Scored 12 points and added 12 assists to help UH pull away from UCSB. Must make him shoot (.408 from 2, .286 from 3) vs. pass.
  • Justin Webster (2), FR, G, 6-3, 175, Dallas, TX, Hargrave Military Academy, 8.2 Pts, 1.5 Reb, 0.8 Ast. Has been starting in place of injured Avea. A good shooter (.529 from 2, .362 from 3). Got 17 points at CSUN...Avea may be available, but Webster has held down the fort with no dropoff.
  • Dawson Carper (44), SO, C, 7-0, 250, Colorado Springs, CO, Rampart HS, 5.6 Pts, 4.1 Reb, 0.3 Ast. Has started 16 of 20 games, but averages less than 16 minutes per game. Averages 9.9 personal fouls per 100 possessions. Hits 61% of his shots (4.2 attempts per game). Just a 36% FT shooter.
Key Reserves
  • Samuta Avea (32), JR, G, 6-6, 195, Hauula, HI, Bingham High School, 11.0 Pts, 4.0 Reb, 1.3 Ast. Has been injured since UCSB game (started, but played just 10 minutes). Began participating in full practices last week, but he didn't play Saturday at CSUN. Hits 38% of his threes, taking 4.7 per game. Only .446 from two.
  • Bernardo Da Silva (5), FR, F, 6-9, 200, Rio Das Ostras, Brazil Wasatch Academy, 5.8 Pts, 4.2 Reb, 0.4 Ast. Originally headed for BYU, but was released from his letter of intent when head coach Dave Rose retired. Has missed the last 3 games due to injury. Their best rebounder at 17.2 per 100 possessions.
  • Justin Hemsley (42), SO, G, 6-5, 190, Rancho Cucamonga, CA, Damien HS, 4.5 Pts, 2.3 Reb, 0.5 Ast. Has averaged 10.3 ppg the last 3 games. Hits 64% of 2's, but just 28% of 3's (which he takes a good chunk of shots from, lowering his effective field goal% to 55%). Averages 19.5 minutes per game.
  • Mate Colina (11), SO, C, 7-0, 240, Melbourne, Australia, Lake Ginninderra (Australia), 1.9 Pts, 1.6 Reb, 0.3 Ast. Hits 63% of his twos in 7.1 minutes per game. Not a good rebounder for his size, and averages a team-high 11 personal fouls per 100 possessions.
  • Owen Hulland (15), SO, F, 7-0, 230, Adelaide, Australia, Lake Ginninderra (Australia) 3.0 Pts, 2.0 Reb, 0.0 Ast. First game was vs. UCSB. Came off the bench to hit a couple of threes. Hit another one vs. UC Davis. Is 3-for-7 (.429) from 3 and 0-for-3 from 2 in 8 minutes per game.
Match-up overview:
The Rainbow Warriors are off to a 5-1 Big West start, their best since the 2015-16 season, and sit a half game behind first-place UC Irvine. UH has come from behind late in the second half in each of its last two wins. The 'Bows are 5-0 this year in games decided by five points or less. In the first meeting, UCSB led at halftime but Hawai'i quickly gained control in the 2nd half. Drew Buggs killed UCSB with his speed, which has been a pattern vs. our man-to-man defense.

UCSB is coming off a very enjoyable drubbing of Long Beach State at the Pyramid. Max Heidegger was a facilitator, garnering 11 assists. Combined with a 30-point performance at CSUN, I think we can safely say that Heidegger is playing the best of his UCSB career in terms of points, assists, rebounds and defense. I mean, he just missed a triple-double...which is Brian Shaw territory. Regardless of how this season goes, we should savor the short time we have left with Mad Max.

Last week, we mentioned that Amadou Sow needed to avoid 1st-half foul trouble in order to be effective. Sow had just two fouls at Long Beach, which allowed him to stay on the floor for a career-high 35 minutes. Sow had a season-high 14 rebounds along with 15 points. He did a little bit better vs. double teams...he had no turnovers, but just one assist.

It has been said that Matt Freeman's greatest (only?) worth is his 3-point shooting. He was scoreless at CSUN, for example. The coaching staff convinced Pasternack to start at LB, and Freeman was on fire. Dan Monson said they allowed Freeman to get into a rhythm on his first nakedly-open attempt. Freeman finished 6-of-7 from the perimeter, including one sublime stretch in the first four minutes of the 2nd half when he buried 3 of them. He also hit 3-of-4 from inside, not exactly his specialty. And he played defense! Yes, he was in foul trouble and din't play much after his 2nd-half outburst, but he drew back-to-back charges that took one of the Beach's best big men out of the game.

JaQuori McLaughlin hasn't been the same since a) Heidegger's return and/or b) a groin injury that caused him to miss the first CSUN contest. He is 9-of-28 from the field (3-of-10 from 3) in his last 3 games. In the five games before his injury, J-Roq got to the free throw line 4.8 times per game. The last 3? Just 4 times total. We'll know he's 100% healthy when he gets that number back up.

Interestingly, the UCSB starters logged 157 minutes at Long Beach. Only Freeman had less than 32 minutes. Has Pasternack lost confidence in some players?

Keys to the game for the Gauchos 
  • Fumigate. We do not need a "Buggs infestation" in the Thunderdome (hat tip to GauchoFreg). If we can stop him from being a playmaker and turn him into a shooter, that gives us a better chance to win.
  • Sow stays out of foul trouble. Sow played a season-low 18 minutes at Hawai'i. He owned UH in 2018-19, hitting 60% of his shots while averaging 19 ppg. He had just 9 points on Jan. 18.
  • McLaughlin gets to FT line. This would tell me he's driving the lane like he was in December. 
  • Heidegger is Heidegger. Enjoy him while you can
  • The best version of Freeman is in the Thunderdome tonight.

DC2 trends: Hawai'i has an underwhelming DC2 of 41.61 in its last 5 games. UH enjoyed some home cooking, sweeping a 4-game homestand which included a 4-point win over Cal Poly, an Eddie Stansberry game-winning 3 vs. Davis and a CSUN collapse (the Matadors blew a 17-point, 2nd-half lead). UCSB raised its 5-game trend from a Big West-worst 28.78 to 40.50 with the Long Beach shellacking. It must be admitted that UCSB also played better vs. a team in a second meeting. Hmmm...what to do, what to do. I'm going with the Gauchos, baby! UCSB escapes, 66-63.

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Saturday, February 1, 2020

UCSB vs. LBSU Men's Basketball Game Preview, by Gaucho Dan

UCSB at Long Beach State
Saturday, February 1, 2020, 4 pm PST, ESPN3
Quick Bite
I just got my new driver's license the other day. Different images pop out as you hold the card and move it around in different orientations to the light. One image is a 49er. Racist California. Saturday, the Gauchos meet a school that has moved beyond its racist origins to embrace new identities. Lots of them.

By the Numbers                                                              
 Quadrant 4 Game
Record (D1) 13-8 8-15
Away/Home (D1) 5-5 (A) 5-4 (H)
Big West Conference 2-4 2-4
Composite National Rankings
NET, kpi, sor, bpi, pom, sag 193 282
DCI 229 290
DC2 189 309
RPI 227 269
NET 186 285
SOS (NET) 339 129
Efficiency Rankings (Pomeroy) 
Offense 101 294
Defense 267 255
Tempo 337 37
Team Statistics (Overall/BWC)
Scoring 71.5 (175)  /  64.2 (9) 68.0 (271)  /  68.0 (8)
2Pt % 54.0 (38)  /  51.4 (3) 46.9 (289)  /  46.7 (7)
3Pt % 33.8 (147)  /  35.1 (6) 36.3 (51)  /  40.2 (2)
FT% 75.2 (47)  /  74.8 (1) 68.5 (235)  /  67.5 (6)
Scoring Defense 67.1 (118)  /  65.8 (2) 76.6 (324)  /  71.8 (5)
2Pt % Defense 50.9 (257)  /  53.7 (9) 52.2 (295)  /  51.3 (7)
3Pt % Defense 36.3 (315)  /  35.5 (6) 34.4 (253)  /  32.2 (1)
Off. Rebounds 10.3 (157)  /  8.0 (8) 9.0 (219)  /  8.3 (6)
Def. Rebounds allowed 21.2 (21)  /  21.3 (1) 25.7 (269)  /  25.5 (4)
Def. Rebounds 24.2 (261)  /  21.5 (9) 24.7 (179)  /  24.2 (6)
Off. Rebounds allowed 7.6 (19)  /  6.7 (2) 11.9 (336)  /  10.7 (7)
Total Rebounds 34.5 (231)  /  29.5 (9) 33.7 (205)  /  32.5 (6)
Total Rebounds allowed 28.8 (14)  /  28.0 (2) 37.6 (320)  /  36.2 (6)
Assists 13.2 (181)  /  10.5 (6) 11.0 (280)  /  9.0 (9)
Steals 4.6 (335)  /  5.3 (6) 6.2 (164)  /  4.7 (8)
Blocks 2.5 (256)  /  1.7 (7) 3.9 (72)  /  5.0 (1)
Best win (NET) @ UT Arlington (114) vs. Providence (78)
Worst loss (NET) vs. LB State (285) vs. CSUF (246)
Trend (D1 only)  Lost 4 of 5 Lost 3 of 4

UCSB - Long Beach State History
UCSB and Long Beach State have played 129 times dating back to 1952. The Gauchos have played Long Beach, which has a 69-60 all-time edge, more than any other opponent. The teams have split their match-ups each of the last two seasons with the road team winning every game and on Jan. 11 in the first meeting this year, Long Beach won 55-52 at the Thunderdome.

Head Coach
The winningest coach in LBSU history, Dan Monson has piled up 200 wins at LBSU and led Long Beach State to three Big West Championships, six top three finishes, three NIT appearances as well as a trip to the 2011-12 NCAA Tournament.  Monson’s success at Long Beach State has been rewarded with three Big West Coach of the Year awards, as well as back-to-back NABC All-District Coach recognition from 2010-11 and 2011-12. The conference coaching award following the 2011-12 season marked the fourth time that Monson has been recognized as a league’s top coach, previously winning the honor as the West Coast Conference Coach of the Year in 1998 following his first season at Gonzaga.

Probable Starters
  • G (14) Colin Slater, 6'1", 190 lbs, Junior, 11.5 Pts, 2.5 Reb, 2.0 Ast. A transfer from Tulane, he is 2nd-best 3-point % at .406 (4.1 attempts per game). Only 43% from two. Defensively below average. Scored just 2 points in 23 minutes at UCSB. Scored 12 pts Thursday at Riverside and had a career-high 28 vs. UC Davis.
  • G (31) Chance Hunter, 6'6", 190 lbs, Sophomore, 14.9 Pts, 5.2 Reb, 0.9 Ast. A transfer from Cerritos JC, he is LB's leading scorer and is also their best 3-point shooter at .434 (6.7 attempts per game). Has the highest usage on the team at 29.1%. Scored 16 points at UCSB and 20 points at Riverside.
  • G (3) Drew Cobb, 6'4", 205 lbs, Junior, 4.7 Pts, 3.6 Reb, 1.2 Ast. Just broke into the starting lineup. Not a threat offensively, he is considered to be a defensive stopper. The splits don't exactly bear that out. Expect him to guard Heidegger. Had 2 points in 18 minutes at UCSB, and 7 points at Riverside.
  • F (13) Romelle Mansel, 6'9", 230 lbs, Freshman, 4.1 Pts, 3.3 Reb, 0.7 Ast. A good compliment to Morgan (see below), although not one of the primary options offensively (usage 15.6%). Scored 6 with 4 rebounds at UCSB, and 8 and 5 at UC Riverside. Has 20 steals.
  • C (24) Joshua Morgan, 6'11", 195 lbs, Freshman, 8.2 Pts, 6.1 Reb, 1.1 Ast. Tops in the Big West in blocks at 52. Scored 10 points with 7 rebounds at UCSB, and 8 and 2 at Riverside. Leads team in effective FG% (.612), Player Efficiency Rating (19.4), Defensive Rebounding (17.0% of available def. rebs.), Total Rebounding (13.1% of available rebs.), Blocks (10.1% of all 2-point attempts), Win Shares (1.8), Win Shares per 40 minutes (.123), Defensive Box Plus/Minus (+4.4) and overall Box Plus/Minus (+4.8).
Key Reserves
  • G (1) Michael Carter III, 6'5", 190 lbs, Sophomore, 12.2 Pts, 3.0 Reb, 2.8 Ast. A transfer from Washington, he leads the team in assists and is 2nd on the team in scoring. Grabbed a career-high 15 rebounds vs. CSULA. Takes a lot of threes (4.1 attempts per game), but makes just 31% of them. Just 43.2 from two. Gets to the free throw line (4.1 attempts per game) and makes them (.839). Assist percentage is highest on team (22.7% of all baskets while on floor). Lost his starting job to Cobb, but still got 14 points in just 18 minutes at UCR.
  • C (32) Trever Irish, 7'0", 230 lbs, Sophomore, 2.0 Pts, 1.9 Reb, 0.4 Ast. The school's first 7-footer in 8 seasons. Averages 9 minutes per game. Has made just 43.5% of his shots.
  • G (2) Jordan Roberts, 6'8", 195 lbs, Junior, 4.2 Pts, 3.5 Reb, 0.9 Ast. Had 7 points in 20 minutes at UCSB, but earned just 9 minutes at Riverside. Averaged 8.4 ppg last season, but has lost time to the newcomers. Has the worst offensive box plus/minus (-5.8) of major players on the team.  Effective FG% is just .366, again the worst numbers among key LB players.
  • G (10) Max de Geest, 6'3", 185 lbs, Freshman, 3.8 Pts, 1.6 Reb, 1.2 Ast. From New Zealand, tends to shoot from three (18 attempts from two vs. 54 attempts from three). Only hitting .315 from three.
  • G (11) Jordan Griffin, 6'3", 165 lbs, Senior, 3.7 Pts, 0.8 Reb, 0.3 Ast. The lone senior, he is a strong outside shooter who is 16th on the school's career three-pointer list. He is 16-of-40 from three this season. Has the second-best effective FG% (.565) on the team. He is a very bad -4.5 in Defensive Box Plus/Minus. Was held scoreless at UCSB, and didn't score his last time out at Riverside.
Match-up overview:
The 49ers, I mean LBC, I mean The Beach has gone with the kids in 2019-20, and combine that with Long Beach's usual tough non-conference schedule the results have been poor. Still, Long Beach is very capable of beating anyone. In their opener, they lost by just 4 at UCLA. They took down Providence at the Wooden Legacy, and lost at USC by just 11. But Southern Utah won by 21 in the Pyramid, they lost by 22 at Seattle and by 18 at CSUN. Their two Big West wins: at UCSB and vs. conference leader UC Irvine. You really don't know which Long Beach team is going to show up from game to game.

Lately, the same Gaucho squad has been showing up. UCSB has allowed the opponents to shoot 50% or better in five straight games. Weaknesses have been exposed, and exploited, on most players on the team. The offense has been sloppy, suffering 17 turnovers at CSUN...many of the moving screen/charging variety. Max Heidegger has been sublime, but the rest of the team has struggled. JaQuori McLaughlin is still recovering from a groin injury that caused him to miss the home CSUN game, and the jury is still out on whether the re-integration of Heidegger into the lineup has disrupted what was working in December. Amadou Sow came on in the 2nd half at CSUN, but he's been prone to 1st-half foul trouble and struggles to recognize double teams and how to beat them. The starting lineup has been in flux as Coach Pasternack tries to find the right combination.

Keys to the game for the Gauchos 
  • Defense. UCSB needs to get back in transition, and needs to hold teams under 50% shooting. That's not a high bar, but it has been lately.
  • Stay out of foul trouble. Sow in particular usually picks up a foul in the 1st minute of the game. Goes hand-in-hand with defense, but some of these fouls have been so silly. Pull up for the short jumper rather than take a charging call. Set the screen before rolling (guards need to be patient, too).
  • Balanced scoring. Heidegger scored 30 of UCSB's 67 points at CSUN. The bench got just 8.

DC2 trends: UCSB is a horrible 28.78 in its last five (the worst in the Big West), while Long Beach is 43.28 in its last 5 (overall 33.86). UCSB has failed to cover the spread in 5 straight games, and would have been 0-5 outright if not for a Mad Max Miracle 3 vs. UC Riverside. UCSB struggles with higher-tempo teams. They have been swept by CSUN (Pomeroy adjusted tempo = 70) and beaten by Rice (86), Long Beach (37) and Hawai'i (122). Then there's the 2nd time through the Big West stat: the margin of victory/defeat worsens 71% of the time in the Joe Pasternack era. My eeyore mood continues. Long Beach State wins 74-62.

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Monday, January 27, 2020

UCSB vs CSUN Men's Basketball Game Preview, by Gaucho Dan

Thursday, January 30, 2020, 8 PM PST, ESPNU
Quick Bite
This preview is being filed under protest with the Association of Basketball (College) Die-Hards Evaluating Field Goalers (the A-B-C-D-E-F-G). Let's see Pimm mangle that one. It's easier if you sing it. UCSB escaped Saturday night with a win thanks to the Mad Max Three, but now must confront a CSUN team that had its number just one week ago.

By the Numbers                                                              
 Quadrant 4 Game
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Record (D1) 13-7 8-14
Away/Home (D1) 5-4 (A) 5-3 (H)
Big West Conference 2-3 3-3
Composite National Rankings
NET, kpi, sor, bpi, pom, sag 183 252
DCI 199 258
DC2 176 287
RPI 219 250
NET 181 251
SOS (NET) 340 178
Efficiency Rankings (Pomeroy) 
Offense 89 152
Defense 267 329
Tempo 339 74
Team Statistics (Overall/BWC)
Scoring 71.7 (166)  /  63.6 (8) 74.9 (94)  /  75.2 (1)
2Pt % 54.3 (34)  /  52.2 (1) 49.3 (203)  /  49.4 (4)
3Pt % 33.3 (178)  /  33.3 (7) 36.1 (61)  /  39.0 (1)
FT% 75.4 (45)  /  75.3 (1) 71.1 (152)  /  73.3 (2)
Scoring Defense 66.6 (111)  /  63.2 (2) 79.3 (339)  /  73.7 (9)
2Pt % Defense 50.4 (243)  /  53.7 (9) 52.5 (307)  /  50.2 (7)
3Pt % Defense 35.8 (302)  /  35.5 (6) 37.4 (339)  /  32.1 (3)
Off. Rebounds 10.5 (146)  /  8.4 (8) 9.2 (175)  /  8.2 (5)
Def. Rebounds allowed 21.0 (17)  /  20.8 (1) 26.5 (327)  /  37.3 (8)
Def. Rebounds 24.4 (263)  /  21.6 (9) 24.1 (149)  /  26.0 (2)
Off. Rebounds allowed 7.8 (21)  /  7.4 (2) 11.3 (329)  /  11.3 (8)
Total Rebounds 34.9 (228)  /  30.0 (9) 33.3 (157)  /  34.2 (4)
Total Rebounds allowed 28.8 (11)  /  28.2 (1) 37.9 (339)  /  37.3 (8)
Assists 13.5 (175)  /  13.5 (6) 14.1 (46)  /  13.8 (1)
Steals 4.6 (340)  /  5.4 (6) 6.3 (143)  /  6.0 (1)
Blocks 2.6 (255)  /  1.8 (8) 2.8 (190)  /  2.8 (5)
Best win (NET) @ UT Arlington (114) @ UCSB (181)
Worst loss (NET) CSUN (251) @ Cal Poly (327)
Trend (D1 only)  Won 1, Lost 3 of 4 Lost 1, Lost 3 of 5

UCSB - CSUN History

UCSB and CSUN have played 60 times in a series that dates to 1959. Santa Barbara has an all-time edge of 40-20 over the Matadors, but had a five-game winning streak in the series snapped last Wednesday in an 83-75 loss to visiting Northridge. Last season, the Gauchos won 70-64 at the Thunderdome, 76-74 at the Matadome and 71-68 in the first round of the Big West Tournament.

Head Coach
An 11-time NCAA Tournament coach, Mark Gottfried enters his second season leading the Matador men's basketball program in 2019-20. Gottfried is the sixth head coach in the history of the program. Gottfried orchestrated a seven-game turnaround and guided CSUN to its most overall wins (13) and conference wins (7) in five seasons. The Matadors also played in a national postseason tournament for the first time since 2009 with an appearance in the College Basketball Invitational. Gottfried started at Murray State, moving on to Alabama and NC State. The Wolfpack are under NCAA investigation over the recruitment of Dennis Smith Jr., which grew out of an FBI investigation into apparel company Adidas.  Gottfried was charged under the NCAA provision of head-coach responsibility for violations within his program.

Probable Starters
  • G (2) Elijah Harkless, 6'4", 195 lbs, Sophomore, 9.9 ppg, 6.3 reb, 3.2 apg, 28.3 min. Had 4 points, 4 rebounds and 3 assists in only 18 minutes at UCSB (foul trouble), but turned around and had 14 points and 6 rebounds in 38 minutes in their loss at Fullerton. One of only two players on the team with a positive box plus/minus due to his better-than-average defense.
  • G (3) Terrell Gomez, 5'8", 160 lbs, Junior, 20.6 ppg, 2.5 reb, 2.4 apg, 36.9 min. Was 3-for-5 from three for 15 points at UCSB. Doesn't need much room to get his shot off. Takes 54% of his shots from three, where he is hitting at a team-high 42%. He took 12 threes at Fullerton, making 6 of them. Defensively he can be exploited (-5.7 defensive box plus/minus).
  • G (10) Darius Brown II, 6'1", 180 lbs, Sophomore, 9.6 ppg, 3.4 reb, 4.4 apg, 31.5 min. Absolutely killed us, going 4-of-5 from three for 21 points along with 8 assists. He's their 2nd-best 3-point shooter by percentage (39%), and has the second-best win shares per 40 minutes on the squad at .117. Brown leads the team in assists, and will take it inside if necessary.
  • F (25) Jared Pearre, 6'9", 190 lbs, Sophomore, 3.9 ppg, 3.6 reb, 0.9 apg, 18.8 min. Offensively challenged, but not against us! He exploded for a 5-for-7 performance...probably all via alley-oop slam dunks. He was scoreless in 14 minutes at Fullerton due to foul trouble.
  • F (35) Lamine Diane, 6'7", 205 lbs, Sophomore, 27.9 ppg, 10.6 reb, 2.4 apg, 34.8 min. The best opposing player I have seen in a long time. He's long-armed, has a variety of moves, gets calls, etc. Has added a 3-point shot, although he is only hitting at 29% (3.6 attempts per game). He has a very high usage rate (41%) and will usually play all 40 minutes. However, he has fouled out twice this season (just 9 games). CSUN lost both games. He has a deceptive fadeaway in that he brings his arms way behind his head to shoot...impossible to block from in front of him (hint, hint). Had 27 vs. us (just 9 at halftime) and 32 at Fullerton before fouling out with a minute left.
Key Reserves
  • F (0) Lance Coleman, 6'6", 205 lbs, Junior, 8.1 ppg, 3.2 reb, 0.9 apg, 24.2 min. Has taken the 2nd-most threes on the team (almost 5 per game), but makes just 31% of them. 2nd-worst on team defensively (-4.5 DBPM). Has averaged just 3 minutes the last two games, so he's apparently in the doghouse.
  • G/F (32) Brendan Harrick, 6'5", 190 lbs, Freshman, 4.6 ppg, 1.6 reb, 0.7 apg, 17.6 min. Hits just 29% of this threes (made one against us and had 6 points). Missed all 5 threes at Fullerton. Another defensive liability.
  • F (15) Ron Artest III, 6'7", 215 lbs, Sophomore, 2.1 ppg, 3.3 reb, 0.5 apg, 13.7 min. Just 11-of-30 from the field. Has not played in at least a couple of games.
  • F (11) Festus Ndumanya, 6'7", 220 lbs, Freshman, 2.6 ppg, 2.3 reb, 0.4 apg, 12.8 min. Picks up 8.2 fouls per 40 minutes. 
  • C (30) Michael Ou, 6'9", 230 lbs, Sophomore, 3.9 ppg, 3.6 reb, 0.9 apg, 10.6 min. Also hasn't played recently. Actually semi-decent offensively, but bad on defense.
Match-up overview:
The Matadors had to without star Lamine Diane for the fall quarter due to academics, and they were woeful without him...going 3-10. They are 5-4 since, with wins at UC Riverside and UCSB. However, Cal Poly destroyed them, and UC Davis and Cal State Fullerton have also picked up wins against them.  CSUN plays at a much-faster pace than deliberate UCSB. Offense consists of Diane, Brown and Gomez. After that, it drops off pretty fast. Gauchos did a great job on Diane in the 1st half, but he got rolling in the 2nd half. Gomez and Brown have to be blanketed, bot exactly a Gaucho specialty.

UCSB got a much-needed victory over UCRV, although it wasn't pretty. JaQuori McLaughlin returned, but didn't look 100% until late in the game. The defense still gave up over 50% shooting, but got a key stop that set up the Mad Max 3.  Matt Freeman got his starting job back, and looked more instinctual on his two made 3's...and he added 4 assists. Sow had 16 points and 6 rebounds, but his 5th turnover almost cost the team the game. Brandon Cyrus got 22 minutes off the bench and scored 6 points along with 4 rebounds. Robinson Idehen was 3-for-3 but only played 11 minutes. Sekou Toure played just 4!

Keys to the game for the Gauchos 
  • Diane will get his points, but make him work for them. Maybe throw some double teams at him, as long as they're not coming from Brown or Gomez. Go at him on defense.
  • Play 40 minutes. In all 3 recent losses, the team led at halftime. Finally, vs. Riverside, they trailed at the half and rallied for the win.
  • Get more from the bench. Sekou needs to play more. When's the last time Nagle hit a basket?
  • Stop Brown and/or Gomez from going off. These guys need to be forced to put the ball on the floor.
  • Attack on offense. This is a bad defensive team, especially coming off the bench. McLaughlin, Ramsey and Max need to take it to the hole.

DC2 trends: UCSB is a paltry 38.35 in its last five, while CSUN is 43.28 in its last 5 (overall 37.81). It's funny how our mood changes just because we scored a couple of points more than the other team. We really didn't play any better on defense. There was more grit, and that's a good thing. But my gut doesn't like this matchup, and we pick the Gauchos too much around here (18 out of 19 times). CSUN is win-lose-win-lose lately, and they're coming off a loss. Should be a good crowd, as CSUN wants everyone to wear black. CSUN wins 76-69.

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