Overall Rank: #101
Conference Rank: #1 Big West Conference
2009-10: 20-10, 12-4
2009-10 postseason: NCAA
Coach: Bob Williams (199-156 at UC Santa Barbara, 388-253 overall)
UC Santa Barbara finished up the 2009-2010 campaign with an impressive 20-10 record and a trip to the NCAA Tournament. The story could be the same in 2010-2011. Coach Bob Williams has a talented and experienced team and few squads in the Big West should be able to match their depth. While there is certainly room for improvement, UCSB is heading into this season with the expectations of another trip to the big dance.
Key Losses: G James Powell, G Paul Roemer
The loss of James Powell, and to a lesser extent Paul Roemer, leaves the Gauchos with a pretty big hole at the shooting guard position. There are other options like playing big, but even then this team will need a shooting guard to come in off the bench every once in a while. All four incoming freshmen fit the bill. Kyle Boswell, Troy Leaf, Brad Lewis and Tony Williams are all 6-1 or 6-2 guards. Leaf is the most likely freshmen to see minutes this year, but the competition is still relatively wide open at this point.
Jordan Weiner is a walk-on, but you cannot argue with the results. Once he became the starting two guard late in the season, UCSB went 9-1 until their loss to Ohio State in the NCAA Tournament. Weiner is not the greatest of shooters or anything else for that matter, but he is a hard worker and a smart player who deserves the starting nod for now. Having Will Brew in the backcourt makes everything a little easier for Weiner. Brew was the only Gaucho to start all 30 games a year ago and without him this team would be drastically different. He is not a big time scorer, nor will he put up huge assist numbers, but the 6-3 point guard can use his size to get to the basket and always plays tough defense. Justin Joyner is a great backup pure point guard. The senior does not do much more than pass, but with the scorers on the wing that is all UCSB needs from a backup.
James Nunnally has been shuffled between the three and four spot, but thrived at the four. He finished the season averaging 14.7 points and a team high 5.6 rebounds. Nunnally’s versatility and three-point shooting ability make him a dangerous weapon at either position, but having a big guy at the four spot who could stretch out the defense with his shooting makes this a better team. The big man under the basket is Jamie Serna. Serna has room to grow, but the 6-7, 235 pound junior showed plenty of promise. His lack of size can make it difficult for him to find room under the basket but, thanks to his strength, that is not a problem against most opponents. The key for the frontcourt is the development of players like Greg Somogyi and Lucas Devenny. Those two averaged about 11 minutes per game a piece and one of them needs to step up and player a bigger role. Sam Phippen and Jon Pastorek are a couple of other options.
Who to Watch:
If the shooting guard position becomes a problem, everybody may need to shift up a position and Somogyi or Devenny will have to start. That would put Nunnally back at the small forward spot and put superstar wing Orlando Johnson at shooting guard. Johnson, a transfer from Loyola Marymount, showed up in Santa Barbara and made an immediate impact. He led the team with 18.0 points per game and added 5.4 rebounds and 2.3 assists. Johnson is a great do-it-all type of player and this team will go as far as he can take them.
Powell was the team’s most prolific three-point shooter last year and replacing that shooting will be a huge concern. It was poor outside shooting that led to the loss against Ohio State. Johnson and Nunnally will certainly hit their fair share of three-pointers, but somebody else better step up and become a consistent outside shooter. Weiner could be that guy if he plays enough, but otherwise UCSB will have to rely on freshmen a lot more than they would like to.
Projected Post-season Tournament: NCAA
Projected Starting Five:
Will Brew, Junior, Guard, 4.8 ppg
Jordan Weiner, Senior, Guard, 3.0 ppg
Orlando Johnson, Junior, Guard, 18.0 ppg
James Nunnally, Junior, Forward, 14.7 ppg
Jaime Serna, Junior, Forward, 7.8 ppg