A media panel selected UC Santa Barbara to successfully defend its Big West men's basketball title in the 2010-11 preseason poll released today.
UC Santa Barbara received 20 first-place votes from the 23-member voting panel for a total of 204 points. The Gauchos, which captured both the conference co-regular season and tournament championships in 2009-10, return all five starters from the team that finished 20-10 overall. Junior guard Orlando Johnson led the Big West in scoring (18.0 ppg) to claim Big West Player of the Year and first team all-conference honors. Junior forward James Nunnally, an All-Big West Second Team pick, ranked ninth in scoring (14.7 ppg) and 11th in rebounding (5.6 rpg) on the league leaderboard. The Gauchos also feature junior point guard Will Brew facilitating the offense (2.6 apg, 9th in Big West) and junior forward Jaimé Serna anchoring the frontline. UCSB hopes to benefit from the experience of reaching the 2010 NCAA Tournament, where it lost to Ohio State in the first round.
The media panel also selected a six-player preseason all-conference team comprised of five juniors and one senior. The six honorees included Joe Harden (UC Davis), Eric Wise (UC Irvine), Orlando Johnson and James Nunnally of UC Santa Barbara, and Long Beach State's T.J. Robinson and Casper Ware. Johnson and Robinson are 2009-10 first team all-conference performers. Harden, Nunnally, Ware and Wise garnered All-Big West Second Team selections last year.
Other notes on the preseason all-conference team:
• Orlando Johnson's 540 points was sixth-most in a single-season at UC Santa Barbara.
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