Friday, March 27, 2009

Catching Up with Alex Harris

Alex Harris finished his UCSB basketball career as the Gauchos' all-time scoring leader with 1,696 points. He was chosen as the 2008 co-Big West Conference Player of the Year and played in the 2008 National Association of Basketball Coaches All-Star game, an event for elite seniors. The Alameda, CA native from Notre Dame St. Joseph High School is now playing pro basketball in Poland.

The following is a brief conversation with former Gaucho Alex Harris.

GauchoHoops: Who/What convinced you to come to UCSB?

Alex Harris: Brian Shaw. When I met with Brian at his home in Oakland he explained his ideas about playing professionally and about picking a college that ultimately is the right institution academically and athletically. After taking my visit to UCSB I knew that it was that place for me.

GH: Describe your transformation from an incoming freshman into a graduating senior?

AH: From freshman year to senior year I like to think I matured from a boy into a man. Not only on the court but off the court as well. I realized that basketball was becoming more of a profession than just a passion or hobby. So I began to treat the game with the seriousness that people give to their professional careers.

GH: Who do you play for and how is the season going?

edit: Alex plays for PGE Turow in Poland.

GH: What are the differences between the US college game and the Euro pro leagues?

AH: In Europe there is less of an emphasis on athleticism and one on one play. The European style, for the most part, is to run more sets, play more patiently and in a sense out think your opponents. In college there was much more "run and gun", more pressing or trapping defenses and more one on one play in general.

GH: What are your biggest challenges with playing in Poland?

AH: The biggest challenge about playing in Poland is everything being brand new. In college I spent four years playing for the same coach, in the same league, against the same competition and for the most part with the same teammates. In Poland, every coach, city, gym, player, referee and atmosphere is completely new to me and I never know quite what to expect. I am simply learning as I go. So, really I guess the biggest challenge is just being a rookie or "freshman" all over again."

GH: What do you enjoy most about playing in Poland?

AH: I enjoy playing in front of our fans. They have the same type of passion as the Gaucho Locos. They beat drums and scream and stand up the whole game. And off the court they mob us for autographs and to explain how much they love the team. Its a lot of fun to play for them.

GH: What do you miss most living away from the States?

AH: Soul food, Freebirds, D.P., my family, Freebirds, Panda Express, Strawberry milkshakes, Cookies n cream ice cream, Alameda and Freebirds. edit: we can surmise Alex likes Freebirds. :-)

GH: Who do you still stay in touch with?

AH: I still stay in touch with my teammates from UCSB. Mostly via facebook. I also talk with Ivan Elliott and Nedim Pajevic quite often via Skype.

GH: What are your favorite moments about being a Gaucho?

AH: Road trips with the team. We always had fun. Our trip to Ole Miss for the N.I.T.

GH: What did you learn as a student/athlete while playing for UCSB and how did it prepare you for life after college?

AH: I learned how to compete. I gained a serious work ethic when it comes to achieving a goal. Mostly I learned how to handle both success and disappointment, and in life there will always be good and bad times. I think I'm prepared to deal with both.

GH: What are your future plans?

AH: I want to travel a lot. This summer hopefully I will go to Spain, Brazil and Jamaica. I want to open up a restaraunt/bar on State Street. I want to start my own summer basketball camps as well as intensive individual training for young athletes who want to play professional basketball. I want to get into venture capitalism with one of my good friends from UCSB. I want to start a charity as well as a book club because for most kids and young adults, especially from urban communities, it is no longer "cool" to be intelligent. I want to change that ridiculous perspective. I want to learn French and master my Spanish. I'm blessed to have the opportunity to try a lot of different things in the near future.

GH: Any last thoughts you can offer to Gaucho fans?

AH: I just want to tell all of the coaches and professors who worked with me at UCSB that they will always hold a special place in my heart because they really had a big impact on my life. To the fans, hopefully they already know how much I love them. They really made me want to give everything I had on the court in order to bring them a win. If people really want to keep in touch with me they can get all of my contact info on facebook or maybe we will put together an official blog or page with updates. Thanks always for your support! Al

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

CSUN ends UCSB's season 67-60

The UCSB Men's basketball season ended with a defeat to the Cal. State-Northridge Matadors 67-60 in a Big West Tournament semifinal contest. Senior Chris Devine, playing in his final game, finished with 16 points and 7 rebounds, again leading the Gauchos in both categories. Jaime Serna chipped in 12 points while fellow freshman James Nunnally added 10 points. Rodrique Mels came off the Matador bench and poured in 28 points, achieving his second career high in 2 consecutive games against the Gauchos. Tremaine Townsend dominated the action inside with 14 points and 10 rebounds.

Chris Devine ended his career finishing 3rd on the all-time career scoring list with 1,608 points. Seniors DJ Posley and the injured Nick Quick also finished their careers as Gauchos in the Anaheim Convention Center. The Gauchos ended their season with an overall record of 16-15, 8-8 in Big West Conference play.

Box Score

Monday, March 16, 2009

UCSB wins quarterfinal game against CSF

The UCSB Men's basketball team defeated the Cal.-State University, Fullerton Titans 73-64 in a quarterfinal match up in the Big West Tournament at the Anaheim Convention Center. James Nunnally led a balanced Gaucho attack with 15 points, followed by Chris Devine's 14 points, and Will Brew's 13 points. Devine led the Gauchos with 6 rebounds. Josh Akognon led the Titans with 23 points, stifled most of the game by a revolving cast of Gaucho defenders bent on denying him the ball. Jacques Streeter added 15 points and 6 assists for the Titans.

The Gauchos continue their quest for a Big West title with a tilt against Cal.-State University, Northridge.

Box Score

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Devine Wins Big West Best Hustle Award

Chris Devine of UCSB won this third Big West Best Hustle player award. The 6th year senior forward also earned the Best Hustle award in 2005-06 and 2007-08 seasons, in becoming the only player to win the award 3 times.

Devine is averaging 15.5 points and 6.5 rebounds in 28 starts on the year, ranking third and sixth in those categories, respectively. He is shooting .524 from the field, third in the conference. Devine averages 2.3 offensive boards per game, fourth among Big West players. The native of Eagle River, Alaska ranks second on the UCSB squad with 29 steals and third with 11 blocked shots. He is fourth all-time on the Gaucho career scoring list with 1,577 points.

Nunnally wins Big West Player of the Week

UCSB Men's basketball freshman guard James Nunnally won the Big West Conference Player of the Week Award for his play against UC-Riverside and Long Beach State. Nunnally led the Gauchos to victories against the Highlanders and 49ers, respectively, averaging 17.5 points, 4.0 rebounds, 3.5 assists and 1.5 steals in the two games. He shot 11-of-17 from the field, 64.7%, 6-of-9 from three-point range, 66.7%, and 7-of-8 from the free throw line, 87.5%. More importantly, he scored the winning basket with time running out, hitting a 3 point basket in defeating LBSU 76-75. He scored 15 points in the last 6:54 of the game.

Nunnally joins Chris Devine as the only UCSB players to earn the Big West Player of the Week award this season. Devine has won it two times, back-to-back weeks, on Feb. 16 and Feb. 23.

The Gauchos play in a Big West Conference Tournament quarterfinal game this Thursday, March 12 at the Anaheim Convention Center. They play in the second game of the 6:00 pm evening session. Their opponent is yet to be determined.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Chris Devine Named to All-Big West Conference Team

Chris Devine of the UCSB Men's basketball team was named to the all-Big West Conference 1st Team. Devine enters Thursday's Big West Tournament quarterfinal game as the Gauchos' leading scorer at 15.5 points per game, and leading rebounder at 6.5 per game. He is shooting 52.4% from the field and 76.9% from the free throw line. In 16 conference games, he averaged 16.5 points and 7.4 rebounds per game, while shooting 53.2% from the floor and 77.2% from the free throw line. He was named to the all-Big West 2nd team his freshman and sophomore years, and the senior was named Honorable Mention last season.

He is fourth on the school's all-time career scoring list with 1,577 points, and is fifth all-time in rebounds with 710. He will be able to add to those totals in the Big West Conference Tournament Thursday in a quarterfinal game in Anaheim.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

UCSB Beats LBSU 76-75 to clinch 4th Seed

March Madness is here: Gauchos Beat 49ers on Nunnally's Buzzer Beater

The UCSB Men's basketball team beat the Long Beach State 49ers 76-75 on a last-second shot by James Nunnally at the Thunderdome to clinch the 4th seed in next week's Big West Conference Tournament in Anaheim. They also receive a 1st round bye in the tournament.

Nunnally, a freshman guard, hit a 3 point basket in a wild finish, when the lead changed hands twice in 10 seconds. Nunnally scored a lay up to tie the game at 73 apiece, but Will Brew, Jr. intentionally fouled the 49ers' TJ Robinson, thinking the Gauchos were down 1. Robinson calmly sank both free throws with 6.8 seconds left. Nunnally then canned the game-winning shot with time running out, igniting a mad rush by fans onto the court. The victory sent off a dramatic farewell to three Gauchos on Senior night: Chris Devine, DJ Posley, and Nick Quick, whose Gaucho career ended earlier due to a knee injury.

Nunnally led the Gauchos with 20 points, including an amazing 15 in the final 6:54. Devine added 15 points and 5 rebounds in his final home game. Posley dished out 7 assists in his final game at the Thunderdome. Stephen Gilling led the 49ers with 23 points, including 6 from behind the 3 pt. arc, and Donovan Morris chipped in 17.

The Gauchos hope to continue their winning ways, playing in the second game of the Thursday, March 12 quarterfinal evening session of the Big West Conference Tournament at the Anaheim Convention Center. Their opponent is yet to be determined, based on Wednesday's preliminary round.

Box Score

Friday, March 6, 2009

UCSB Defeats UCR 66-53

The UCSB Men's basketball team put together two solid halves and defeated the UC-Riverside Highlands 66-53 in a Big West Conference game at the Thunderdome. James Nunnally once again led the Gauchos with 15 points and 4 assists, while DJ Posley contributed 11 points and 4 assists. Chris Devine led the Gauchos with 10 rebounds. Kyle Austin and Javon Borum led the Highlanders with 14 and 13 points, respectively.

Up next are the visiting Long Beach State 49ers, as they invade the Thunderdome for the last Big West regular season game. The Gauchos have the ability to secure the all-important 4th seed in next week's Big West Tournament if they win that game, and if UC-Irvine defeats CSU-Fullerton Saturday evening. The Gauchos square off against the 49ers at 7 pm this Saturday.

Box Score

Monday, March 2, 2009

UCSB Squeaks by UCD 66-64

The UCSB Men's basketball team came back from a double digit deficit to beat the UC-Davis Aggies 66-64 in the Thunderdome. The Gauchos earned a split with the Aggies, after losing in Davis 89-75 earlier this season. Freshmen James Nunnally and Jaime Serna led the Gauchos with 18 and 13 points, respectively. Chris Devine led the Gauchos with 7 rebounds, and chipped in 11 points. Joe Harden led the Aggies with 20 points and 9 rebounds, while Vince Oliver added 19 points.

Up next is UC-Riverside March 5 in the Thunderdome at 7 pm.

Box Score