Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Future Gaucho?

Class of '17 recruit. Just kidding...for now. :-)


Orlando Johnson on Mid-Major All-American Team

Orlando Johnson, sophomore guard on the UCSB Men's basketball team, was selected to another All-American team. The transfer from LMU made the Mid-Major All-American Fourth Team. Here is the list of all the selections.

Congratulations, OJ!

Monday, March 29, 2010

More UCSB / OSU highlights

USA Today 2009 - 2010 summary


Loyola Marymount transfer Orlando Johnson made an enormous impact in his first season at UC Santa Barbara, winning Big West Conference Player of the Year and Big West tournament MVP honors while leading the Gauchos to the NCAA Tournament.

The 15th-seeded Gauchos suffered a 68-51 loss to second-seeded Ohio State in a first-round game at the Midwest Regional. Johnson had 20 points and five rebounds and the Gauchos held the Buckeyes to 40.4-percent shooting, but they shot a paltry 32.3 percent and made just 6 of 19 from 3-point range.

Despite a disappointing ending, the season was an unqualified success. UC Santa Barbara won a share of the Big West regular-season championship, earned the No. 1 seed in the conference tournament and defeated Long Beach State in the championship game to claim an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.

"You've got to credit UC Santa Barbara," Long Beach State coach Dan Monson told the Santa Barbara News-Press. "They won the league for a reason. They're a good basketball team. They disrupted us and we couldn't get into a rhythm. They took away our transition baskets. We never got into an offensive flow, and, as shooters, we never got into a rhythm."

Bob Williams was named Big West Coach of the Year for the third time in 12 seasons at UC Santa Barbara. He installed the team's vaunted matchup zone defense with great success and made two key moves over the course of the season.

First, Williams went small, moving sophomore James Nunnally, who had been in and out of the lineup at small forward, to the starting power forward position. Later, after the Gauchos suffered a disappointing loss to Cal State Northridge on Jan. 30, Williams put walk-on guard Jordan Weiner in the starting lineup. Nunnally improved his numbers dramatically, averaging 16.9 points and 6.6 rebounds in 18 games leading up to the NCAA Tournament. He averaged 11.6 points and 4.1 rebounds in the first 10 games. Weiner didn't produce big numbers, but the Gauchos went 9-1 in the first 10 games he started before falling to Ohio State.

The Gauchos made their first NCAA Tournament appearance since 2002 with a youthful roster featuring one of the Big West?s best young duos. Johnson earned most of the accolades while averaging 17.9 points, 5.4 rebounds and 2.3 assists, but Nunnally, a second-team All-Big West selection, was just as critical to the team's success. That much was clear during the Big West tournament. Johnson was terrific, averaging 17 points, four rebounds and three assists, but the MVP award easily could have gone to Nunnally, who averaged 18 points, 7.5 rebounds and 3.5 assists.

UC Santa Barbara's success was youth driven, but senior guard James Powell provided veteran leadership and clutch shooting. Powell shot 41.1 percent from 3-point range and 91.7 percent from the free-throw line, and made a number of big shots late in the season. Other players contributed in other ways.

"I have a huge amount of respect for the 13 guys who are wearing UCSB, playing for the Gauchos, and how we have handled adversity in most every game," Williams told the News-Press. "We get leads, people charge, and we respond."


FINAL RECORD: 20-10, 12-4, tied for first in the Big West.

WHAT WENT RIGHT: UC Santa Barbara featured an effective three-pronged attack on the offensive end with Big West Conference Player of the Year Orlando Johnson, second-team All-Big West selection James Nunnally and senior G James Powell. All three ranked among the top 10 in the Big West in 3-point shooting. Nunnally (.457) was second, Powell (.422) fifth and Johnson (.394) tied for ninth. Johnson led the Big West in scoring, was voted conference player of the year and then was named MVP of the Big West tournament. The Gauchos frustrated opponents with a highly disruptive matchup zone defense. They were first in the Big West in 3-point percentage defense (.306), second in blocked shots (3.1 bpg), and third in scoring defense (65.7 ppg) and field-goal percentage defense (.418).

WHAT WENT WRONG: The Gauchos lost six of eight from Dec. 1 to Jan. 2, including their Big West Conference opener against UC Irvine. That stretch likely prevented them from earning a higher seed and perhaps a more favorable matchup in the NCAA Tournament. Other than that, the only thing that went wrong was coach Bob Williams ending the season with 199 wins at UC Santa Barbara. An NCAA Tournament victory over Ohio State would have been a memorable way to win No. 200.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "These guys have achieved because they've grown a ton. I talked to them a month ago, and I told them that the team that can improve the most from a month ago to now, this day, is going to be the team to win (the Big West Conference tournament), and we ended up winning nine of our last 10." -- UC Santa Barbara coach Bob Williams, to the Santa Barbara News-Press.


THE GOOD NEWS: This year's roster consisted of two seniors, five juniors, six sophomores and three freshmen, so UC Santa Barbara will return a wealth of talent. The key returnees will be sophomore G Orlando Johnson, sophomore F James Nunnally, sophomore F Jaime Serna, sophomore C Greg Somogyi and sophomore G Will Brew Jr. Somogyi may be ready for a larger role next season after using his 7-3 frame and 7-9 winsgpan to make more plays around the basket in the final weeks of the season. He had a school-record eight blocked shots in a Feb. 20 game against Fresno State. He averaged four rebounds and 2.4 blocks in 14.7 minutes off the bench over the last nine games. He had six points, six rebounds and two blocks in 19 minutes in an NCAA Tournament loss to Ohio State.

THE BAD NEWS: Senior G James Powell saw a slight reduction in minutes this season but still played an important role off the bench. Powell was one of the Big West Conference's best 3-point shooters. He set a school record with 221 career 3-point goals. He was known for making clutch shots and knocked down a number of free throws in the final minutes of games to help the Gauchos secure a share of the Big West regular-season championship for the second time in three years. He was a 91.7-percent free-throw shooter. The Gauchos have enough talent to vie for the Big West title again next season, but Powell's contributions will be missed.


--Sophomore G Orlando Johnson showed dramatic improvement at the free-throw line over the course of the season, an important development considering he led the team in free-throw attempts. He made 84 of 101 (.832) over the final 16 games after making just 58 of 101 (.574) over the first 14 games.

--Sophomore F Jaime Serna also showed improvement over the second half of the season. Serna averaged 11 points on 64.3-percent shooting in eight games leading up to the NCAA Tournament, up from his season averages of eight points and 52.7-percent shooting.

--This will be a big offseason for sophomore PG Will Brew. Brew averaged 4.9 points, 2.6 assists and 2.2 rebounds. He shot just 36.7 percent from the field and 27.8 percent from 3-point range, and committed 56 turnovers while accumulating 74 assists, a 1.32 assist-to-turnover ratio that must improve next season. Brew missed all four shots he attempted against Ohio State but otherwise finished on a positive note, tallying five assists with no turnovers on a night when his team shot 32.3 percent.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

The Thunder in the Thunderdome

The 2009 - 2010 was by all measures a successful season as the Gauchos won the Big West regular season and Big West Tournament championships for men's basketball. The result was an automatic invitation to the big dance, the NCAA playoffs.

The team returns most of its key players, losing only seniors James Powell and Paul Roemer. Two outstanding incoming high school recruits Troy Leaf and Kyle Boswell will step in to replace the departing seniors.

Hopefully, this will boost fan interest and attendance at the Thunderdome next season, as the Gauchos attempt to continue their winning ways. To get a glimpse of what a sold-out Thunderdome looks, feels, and sounds like, watch the following video of the UNC game from 2008. The Tarheels went on to win the 2009 NCAA National Championship that season, and the Gauchos were able to remain competitive for most of the game due to the awesome crowd support. The Gauchos will be good again--come out and support them next season and join the fun. Go Gaucholocos!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Gauchos annual basketball banquet on April 11

All-around athlete Sam Phippen

Sam Phippen traded in his basketball sneakers for cleats as relief pitcher for the Gauchos baseball team.

There are reports that Phippen has a 90 mph heater. Good luck on the diamond, Sam!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

A shout out to the UCSB Gaucho cheerleaders

They add to the Gaucho game experience, and rarely receive enough credit for doing so. So when they get noticed, it's appropriate to give props to the Gaucho cheerleaders. This photo was captured by Sports Illustrated in a tribute to cheerleaders. Go Gauchos!

Troy Leaf selected San Diego POY

2010 UCSB signee Troy Leaf of Foothills Christian High was selected San Diego Section Player of the Year.

Troy Leaf, Foothills Christian

Headed for UC Santa Barbara in the fall, the 6-foot-3 Leaf will take with him the section career scoring record, becoming the first local player to surpass 3,000 points.

Leaf finished with 3,318, third in state history, according to Cal-Hi Sports. He left previous record-holder and current San Diego State player Tyrone Shelley (2,962 with Christian and Crawford in 2004-2007) well in his wake.

Leaf also was credited with 609 assists (seventh in section history), 374 steals (seventh), 284 three-point field goals (third) and 870 rebounds.

“I didn’t realize until the end of last year that I had a chance at the (scoring) record,” said Leaf, 18. “I’m proud of that record. But even better was playing on a team with Kalob (Hatcher) for four years and J’Vonte Brooks. We won four straight section (Division V) titles and no one can ever do better than that.”

Monday, March 22, 2010

UCSB signee Troy Leaf highlights

Now that the Gauchos Men's basketball 2009 - 2010 season is officially over, it's time to look at the future. It includes two 2010 signees: Kyle Boswell from Edison High in Huntington Beach and Troy Leaf from Foothills Christian High in El Cajon, both in California.

Here are video highlights of Leaf (look for #1).

Saturday, March 20, 2010

A season to remember: 2010 Gauchos Basketball

The UCSB Men's basketball 09 - 10 season is over (20 - 10), and it's been a memorable one. And to commemorate it, this video clip says it all.

UCSB Gauchos: 2010 Big West regular season and Big West Tournament champions. Good luck to seniors James Powell and Paul Roemer, and thanks for representing the Gauchos well. And to the rest of the team, here's to an even brighter future.

We now close the final chapter of this magical Gaucho season.

OSU Coach Thad Matta's comments

THAD MATTA: And I think that you gotta give Santa Barbara credit. You look at this team and how young they are. This is a basketball team that's going to be reckoned with here in the next couple of years.
They've got film that they're on the 3s, and it was funny how some of them happened. Dave goes for an offensive rebound, tips it. We tip it up in the air. It gets batted to the side. They advance, and they hit a 3. Just sort of some crazy plays.
Our big thing was getting back in our defense set, and they got us a little bit in transition. As we watch these guys on tape -- and we went back from November to December through January and February. They were playing great basketball coming into this tournament.
And like I said, those two guards or wings, Johnson and Nunnally, I think they can play anywhere in the country.

Q. Talk about the match-up problems that Orlando gave you guys. He went off on a nice little scoring run. I think it was ten in a row. He's real physical. But how did you guys match up with that?

THAD MATTA: I thought that in that stretch we -- the one fade-away up over was -- we had talked about it going into the game. I'm going to live with him making tough 2s, and we knew he could. But you're right he's very physical. And his first step is so good and the range he's got, we were trying to load up as much as we could. And we were telling him he's not passing, he's going to shoot the ball. And we fouled him a couple times. But he's a great player. I loved watching him in preparation. And he's got a great future ahead of him.

Gauchos in post-OSU game interviews

March 19, 2010

Orlando Johnson
James Powell
Bob Williams


Ohio State - 68
UC Santa Barbara - 51

DENNIS KRAUSE: We're joined by UC Santa Barbara, Head Coach Bob Williams, and student-athletes Orlando Johnson and James Powell. We'll start with an overview from Coach Williams, please.
BOB WILLIAMS: You know, we just didn't have an answer to get to Diebler. And 7 of 12 from the 3-point line, how far they were able to just handle our zone and get us spaced out and get the ball moving ahead of us caused us a lot of problems.
We knew that guarding the four guards where all four can shoot and all four can pass and all four can dribble would give us trouble in terms of extending us and not being able to keep them in front of us.
I thought we did a pretty nice job rebounding with them at 35 to 38, and only nine turnovers, two in the second half. Those stats were all pretty darned good for us. In fact, we could never get to the foul line, didn't help us at all. 16 to 5 at the foul line, outscored by 11. It was probably our lack of an aggression level of getting to the rim on the offensive end, needed to be a little more aggressive, a little tougher trying to get to the rim. Of course, there were seven blocked shots in the first half and 12 for the game probably bothered us a little bit trying to go to the rim.
DENNIS KRAUSE: Questions for the student-athletes, please.

Q. Orlando, seemed like you had opportunities where the team was within shouting distance. If you could have gotten it into single digits and put a little pressure and get the crowd behind you, but they hit big 3s over and hit big shots over and over again. What was your thought when you kept seeing them hit those shots to extend the lead from 10 to 13 or 10 to 15?
ORLANDO JOHNSON: My first reactions are like, "Is he going to miss?" That's what I was thinking. Every shot, he was so wide open. I don't know how you keep letting shooters like that get open looks. They thrive for those type of opportunities. And as you could see, he lived behind the line, shot 12 of them and made seven. That's a pretty good percentage.
But overall I thought our defense wasn't that bad. We had some letdowns in spots we should have been there. But when you play a good team like that, they'll find ways to overcome what your defense does.
So Diebler definitely took advantage of the opportunities he had tonight and made us pay.

Q. James, it was a rough first half for you guys offensively. What got you guys on track a little bit in the second half to make a little bit of a run at them?
JAMES POWELL: I would just say settling down. You know what I mean? Actually, it's all of our first time, except the coaching staff, being in the NCAA tournament. I feel we may have had a little bit of jitters. That's not fact. That's just maybe, might have been what happened. I'm not really sure. We just started running stuff. O.J. got hot. We found a nicer rhythm than we did in the first half.

Q. O.J., you carried the team a lot over the course of the season, seemed like you started to do that in the second half as well. Talk about what was going through your mind trying to get the team back in the game.
ORLANDO JOHNSON: I don't know, I just wanted to be a little more aggressive. Really wasn't working out. Didn't get to the free throw line. Only got there twice. But some shots started falling for me. And once they started playing off me a little bit, it started opening up some lanes and getting James and stuff some open shots.
Will, when we made that run and we cut it to I think 10, that was just because Will was getting in the lane, penetrating and getting us open shots. It was mostly the penetration that we were getting to get those type of shots.

Q. James, Evan Turner is obviously a great player. He goes 2 out of 13 from the field tonight. What did you guys do defensively to frustrate him and annoy him so much?
JAMES POWELL: Obviously there's no secret how good of a player he is. He'll probably be National Player of the Year. So a lot of our defensive scheme was to stop him. And so we always wanted to have one guy on him and another guy shadowing him. So I feel like -- I wasn't really on the ball as much, but Will and Jordan and J.J., I felt like they did a really good job of pressuring him all the way up the court without fouling, because he was pretty frustrated. You could see the look on his face he had.
So I feel we did a pretty good job. But wish we could have done a better job containing Diebler and Buford, because they got some open looks. I mean, our main job was trying to contain them. We did a good job, but other people stepped up and played well.

Q. James, you've been a Gaucho for four years under Coach Williams. You've seen the NCAA tournament on TV. Take me through your emotions and everything leading up to this when you ran onto the floor here at the Bradley Center for your first experience playing in the NCAA tournament as a senior.
JAMES POWELL: Once we stepped on the floor with our uniforms on we were just trying to win the game. When we came to the gym a little bit earlier, walked out, watched a little bit of the Georgia Tech/Oklahoma State game, it was -- it didn't bother me, but it was kind of like it was nice to see just playing in the arena with a big crowd. But once we stepped on the floor with our jerseys on, it was about winning the game.

Q. Orlando, obviously a lot of sophomores on this team, a lot of youth. You're one of them. What can you take from the experience and can you use it as a learning experience for years to come?
ORLANDO JOHNSON: Yes. This is definitely a learning experience. It's tough for a senior to see this, but I know he's happy that we're going to be making progress and definitely trying to take this program to the next level. So I know when coach pulled me out the last few minutes of the game, I was telling the guys that this offseason is going to be real critical for our development to get back to where we wanted to be.
I thought that Greg Somogyi really stepped in and showed flashes of what's to come. The good thing is we're going to be juniors next year, and we're going to have more experience, and we're going to be able to take this to the next level.
DENNIS KRAUSE: Thank you. Questions for coach.

Q. As you were watching the game and the flow of the game, obviously you had that stretch in the first half where the momentum was a little bit lost. But your bigs seemed to respond at least from a physical standpoint. And even though there was a lot of blocked shots, at least attacking the basket. All things considered, considering the way Evan Turner played, and the way Evan played tonight, would you take that in terms of the way your team played from an aggressive standpoint?
BOB WILLIAMS: I liked us better in the second half in terms of an aggressive standpoint. I thought we were freed up a little bit and more aggressive. I thought Jaimé started the second half way more aggressive inside. And I thought Greg Somogyi gave us a presence both halves inside.
You know, the thing we were disappointed is the fact that we couldn't get to shooters. We've done a pretty good job all year defending the 3-point line and getting to shooters and at least getting a good fly-by effort. We didn't have that. And I think we got a little starstruck and maybe fatigued at times in terms of just continued to fight and make the next play. And that's all we were trying to get them to do.
I thought they responded pretty well in the first half with the one group. I really liked the one group that played together with Greg Somogyi, Pastorek and Orlando, and I think it was J.J. and it might have been James Powell. And I thought they had a really good run and got us back into it a little bit.
But their length and their shot blocking inside took our aggression away inside. They had seven blocks on us in halftime, 12 for the game. At least in the second half we kept going after it.

Q. Seemed like every time Evan Turner put the ball on the floor you were doing a good job, the front part of the zone was doing a good job of bumping him and being physical with him. Did you make that a point to your team that every time he put the ball on the deck, you have ten eyeballs bump him and frustrate him and make it hard for him as he tried to get into the lane?
BOB WILLIAMS: He naturally draws a lot of attention because he has so much publicity around him. We actually did not want ten eyeballs on him. We would have been happy with four. And we really would have been happy if we kept two eyeballs on 33. We needed two more eyeballs on that kid.
But the tendency is when a great player has it and he's in that paint area and he starts bouncing it, guys are looking at him. So the spacing between looking at him and the recovery to Diebler was just too far.
And he picked us apart. And so if we were to do it again, we would do it a little differently. We would make somebody besides Diebler shoot the 3.

Q. An analogy, you know how when you have a player, he can pretty much score low, and use -- rather have them take a jump shot and score down low, and we can use the same thing for Evan. It's kind of crazy, because it's like you have to stop him and I'd rather have someone else beat us. And that's pretty much that kind of backfired and somebody else did beat you guys. How tough is it for you guys scouting, to shut down this guy and also have Diebler come off of being sick and just dominate the game?
BOB WILLIAMS: I didn't realize he was sick. That makes me feel a whole lot better. [Laughter]. I'm sure glad the kid wasn't healthy. He might have been 10 out of 15. You know what, he's the first sick kid I've ever seen play 40 minutes in a game. That kid's a stud. We didn't Evan to just take the game over. We wanted other people to have to make plays. We did put a gold jersey on our assistant and made him be Diebler in practice one day. I might have to get a better shooting assistant to really emulate him a little better.
But we knew he was a good shooter. We know he's their best shooter. We've done a nice job all year at getting to their best shooter. They did a great job of getting us spaced out. They did a great job of working, working, edging us out of position; and then, boom, quick ball reversal to him and he would spot up and shoot it. So I give them a lot of credit on how subtle they were with their zone offense.
It wasn't like they were running plays to get open. They were playing to get open. And they kept in their concept how to get the ball to him. And, yeah, we did -- our game plan was to try to take Evan out of it. We didn't want him in to just dominate the game. And that's why we picked him up at 85 feet and just kind of bumped him all the way up the floor.

Q. This is the last time you're going to be sending James Powell out on a basketball court. Any thoughts about that? He's been with you five years.
BOB WILLIAMS: Yeah, there's a lot of thoughts about it. That was our conversation in the locker room was primarily about Paul Roemer and James Powell and how much they mean to us.
The things that we talked about with James is quite frankly he'll go down in the history books as the all-time clutch free throw shooter in this program. And I think that probably is the history of this program, and the history of it. And he was 31 out of 32 in the last five minutes of the games this year. Is that correct? 31 out of 32. That's incredible.
And he is a very clutch player. And then the thing I was really proud about with James is I think how much he's grown up in terms of his concepts of the game and doing what helps the team all the time, and I think he had a really very good year that way and I know he got better defensively and I know he fought more. But the number one thing you say about James Powell in the locker room is the type of human being he is. He's a class-act kid.
He's a guy that every time you go to somebody's house and have dinner, he's the one that mails a thank you card and it's never coming from me. It's not me telling James or any other player they have to do it. He's writing somebody a thank you card.
He sends my mother a card when she had a conversation with him at a game. He's just that type of human being. The job his parents did raising him was unbelievable. And so we're really going to miss him as a person and the type of kid he is. And, yes, we'll obviously miss him as a player.

Q. I was very impressed about your player that you had out there, 7'3" guy, rarely see a guy young, really tall and able to move around on the floor. When you put him in the game, Ohio State was kind of shocked because it seemed like they never went against the guy, and they wanted to shoot above him. And after a while they kind of went around him and avoided him. With your young team, how do you look at that for development for next year, especially for your big men, including the guards?
BOB WILLIAMS: Well, yeah, everybody's young in this group. Our nucleus is very young. And we do think that we call them the Big Somog. He likes to call himself the Big Sexy. [Laughter] But he has potential to be a spectacular player. And our strength coach is going to be the MVP between this year and next year. I mean, guys, you can't believe how much better he is than two years ago when he walked into our place. He works harder, runs harder and takes coaching better and he got a whole lot stronger.
He's motivated. He's tasted it a little bit. He had some success this year, and I could see him being a real factor in the years to come.
And Orlando is going to be an excellent player in the next two years. And James Nunnally had a great year. Will Brew, I thought, looked pretty good out here tonight, played in this game. That's an encouraging sign.
Jaimé Serna is a big, strong kid. We actually would love the idea of playing Jaimé a little bit possibly at the 4 next year. So we could play Jaimé and Somogyi, along with Lucas together at the 4 sometimes. So we have the ability to play bigger, because you did see how much he affected even an Ohio State. He's 7'3" and has a 7'9" wing span. Those guys don't come along very often. He can catch it, pass it, and shoot it and he runs. As he gets stronger, he's going to have a chance to be a dominant player.

Q. Obviously you had a fair amount of success this year. But there's still a lot to -- obviously there's a lot to work with for the next year. What's the main thing you're going to be focusing on in the offseason?
BOB WILLIAMS: There's a lot to work with and a lot to work on. And the number one thing that they have to do is really be humble. The fact they've had some success and be grateful about it and now go back and try to get better. I mean, you have to make sure that you don't let this go to your head and try to rest on your laurels a little bit or enjoy Santa Barbara too much, and that can be a challenge sometimes.
And you being a student there, I'm sure you understand what I'm saying. And so this group has a chance and as soon as they get a little time off here and they come back and have meetings, they will have input, and we will have input in terms of their improvement areas.
And every one of them have areas that they have to get better for us to get better. Some of them it's their bodies and their strengths, and their best friend has to be our strength coach. Other ones it's going to be my assistants and the hours they have to spend in there shooting with them. Other guys, it's going to be their ball skills.
And all of them have their areas. And they've got to go back to work, and hopefully we can -- the two kids that we signed early come in and contribute and add to it. But we have a great nucleus of young players.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Ohio State ends Gauchos' season 68 - 51

The Ohio State Buckeyes soundly defeated the UCSB Men's basketball team 68 - 51, ending the Gauchos' March Madness run. The Gauchos (20 - 10) attacked early and often the stout OSU (28 - 7) defense, but were routinely rejected in their attempts to finish at the rim.

Dallas Lauderdale led OSU with eight blocked shots, and altered a few more in the lane. Consensus All-American candidate Evan Turner was held to nine points on 2-of-13 shooting, but still managed ten rebounds and five assists. However, it was the hot perimeter shooting of Jon Diebler that sealed the Gauchos' fate, as he connected on 7-of-12 from behind the 3-point line en route to 23 points. William Buford finished with 16 points, including several acrobatic slashes to the rim. Lauderdale also pulled down 12 rebounds, while David Lighty dished off six assists.

Orlando Johnson led the Gauchos with 20 points, keeping the score respectable by scoring from the perimeter and in the post. Senior James Powell capped off his Gaucho career with 11 points, including a solid 3-of-7 from the 3-point line. Greg Somogyi contributed six points, six rebounds, and two blocked shots, while altering numerous other Buckeye shots.

Despite the loss, the Gauchos enjoyed a memorable season, winning the Big West regular season and tournament championships, qualifying for the NCAA playoffs for the first time since 2002. They send off seniors Paul Roemer and James Powell on a winning note, while building towards a bright future with most of the team returning next season. Go Gauchos!

Box Score

Pre-OSU game interviews

Coach Bob Williams, James Powell, and Orlando Johnson discuss their game with the Ohio State Buckeyes.

Gaucho players studying for exams

Gaucho players hit the books and took final exams, in addition to preparing for the Ohio State Buckeyes. Despite being on the road in Milwaukee before the biggest game of their lives, this is finals week, so studying for and taking exams was mandatory.

Playing intercollegiate athletic sports at UCSB means emphasizing the word "student" in "student-athlete." Gaucho fans are proud of our basketball go beat the Buckeyes!

Buckeye interviews on UCSB and potential match ups

Coach Williams, OJ and JP interview before OSU


DENNIS KRAUSE: Joining us now UC Santa Barbara student-athletes James Powell and Orlando Johnson.

Q. James, this is your swan song in basketball until obviously whatever the next level holds, but in college basketball, just your thoughts about entering this arena and having it end here, or who knows, maybe St. Louis, I'm not going to stop you here, but what are your emotions and feelings about coming in here?
JAMES POWELL: I'll say my emotions are a lot different than after we won the Big West tournament. After we won our tournament, we were excited and happy to be moving on. But now we still have games to win. Even though we're 15 and the underdog, we're not going in intimidated like we just came here just to play a game. We're happy to be here and now let's play a game and go home. We're going to try to compete and play hard and come out with a victory. Now, it's more like game-like mentality than excited mentality.

Q. Orlando, do you hope that Ohio State is looking past the Gauchos?
ORLANDO JOHNSON: Definitely. That means we're coming up for the upset, just stepping out on the court and showing a lot of people around the country around the country Santa Barbara basketball is back. And me and James were, and the rest of the team, we just are proud to be a part of this and taking the right steps to get them back to that path where we're always known as a basketball powerhouse. So we're looking forward to tomorrow night.

Q. Where does that belief come from? I mean, everybody outside the team would probably pick you to probably not pull it off. What makes you believe you can do it?
JAMES POWELL: I mean, there are 64 teams left in this tournament, or started off with 64 teams, we wouldn't be here if we didn't deserve to be here. We didn't get here by losing, we got here by winning, so we're not coming here to lose. Like I said, obviously we have respect for them. We watched them on TV and we know how good they are. We know what they're capable of. But we come in scared or intimidated, then we pretty much lost the game before we even started. Like I said we want to compete and play hard, and I feel we should all think we have a chance to win the game. If you think you're going to lose, you don't even have a chance to win.

Q. Orlando, I know you guys watched them on TV a lot this year. But in the scouting video that you watched, is there anything that told you maybe even a little more specifically about what it's going to take to beat the Buckeyes?
ORLANDO JOHNSON: You really just see how talented and multi-talented they are. Their point guard is the second biggest player on their team. They've got everybody on their team is capable of shooting the ball very well from the 3 and getting to the basket.
So you look at them. You respect their game even more, just for not being one of the bigger teams but still being one of the top rebounding teams in the Big Ten and getting wins. I like the way they play.

Q. James, you guys had very good defense this year, suffocating at times. They are a perimeter-oriented team. Do you feel as though that plays into the strength of what you do defensively?
JAMES POWELL: I mean, I'm not going to say it necessarily plays to our strength. We're just going to play our game doing what we've been doing the whole year. Our defense is kind of confusing. So I mean, they'll have to try to figure out our defense like we'll have to try to figure out their defense.
Like Orlando said, they have really good guard play, that's no secret to anybody. We've seen them on national TV. We know how good their guards are, but hopefully our defense can cause turnovers and cause them to hurry up a little bit, especially since they haven't seen a defense like ours. Hopefully it can confuse them a little bit.

Q. Have you been watching any of the games today? I know you're busy and some of you guys even have finals. Have you watched any of the games and have you taken any motivation from some lower seeds getting pushed to the brink or even losing?
ORLANDO JOHNSON: Definitely. Me and James were sitting in the hotel room, we're watching the Murray State and Vanderbilt game. He looked at the clock, 4.2 seconds, that's 42 right there. That's his number right there. So he's like they're going to make this shot. They're going to make this shot. And the next thing you know, the guy comes off and gets a good look. It was contested. He made it, he was like, "I told you. I told you."
JAMES POWELL: You called it.
ORLANDO JOHNSON: Yeah, I called it. I didn't want to take all the credit. But he gave it to me. But it was pretty cool. Like I said, anything is possible.

Q. James, in some parts of the country Evan Turner is the big picture on Sports Illustrated and they do have a jinx with that magazine. Actually, you, however, you have a little picture in there. Where-is-Waldo type picture. What do you take from that? Do you think that's going to jinx them more than you?
JAMES POWELL: Who knows. I mean, the only curse I know of is the Madden curse. I don't know if you know about John Madden and the video game, I don't know about the Sports Illustrated curse. Like he said, there was an upset earlier today, Old Dominion or some team almost beat Villanova. When it's March, anything is possible. I'm not looking at the Sports Illustrated or anything like that. There's a hundred other players on that cover. If everybody was cursed then there would be no winner.

Q. Of the teams in the Big West Conference, certain teams present match-up problems for other teams. But you look at an Irvine or a Davis or somebody like that, maybe they're not as athletic. Maybe no one is as athletic as Long Beach State. Kasper was a great guard. Do you feel there's a benefit with you guys playing Long Beach State with their stable of athletes and beating them and having that almost be a kind of an idea of what you're going to get times whatever from Ohio State?
JAMES POWELL: Definitely, because, I mean, we know the caliber of athletes that Long Beach State has. A lot of people might not because their Big West is not on the national stage. But we know if we saw Long Beach State in a tournament -- I was telling him this today, if we saw Long Beach State in a tournament, we would feel confident that they might get a win. The fact we beat Long Beach makes me look like we have a chance also, because we know how good of athletes they have top to bottom. So the fact that we could compete with a team like that makes me feel pretty confident.

Q. Orlando, I know it's a long year in basketball. And some teams get burned out by February. You guys have been on a roll like 9 of 10 and 10 of 12 or something like that, or 11 of 13. Do you feel like you guys still have some of your best basketball ahead? Is there a wariness factor of winning the Big West and having to push to win the regular season title, too, or do you feel pretty rejuvenated by this?
ORLANDO JOHNSON: We definitely feel rejuvenated especially since when we did have the Big West tournament we had such a long stretch off, and we came back really fresh. But we've seen some of our early struggles, and the Davis game we weren't really efficient on offense and very crisp.
But I think now we're glad that we're here. So now we come out loose, ready to give it everything we've got against Ohio State and not to hold anything back. So I think this is a good moment for us to really just show what we're capable of. And I think the score would tell itself.
DENNIS KRAUSE: Thank you. Questions for UC Santa Barbara Head Coach Bob Williams, please.

Q. In 2002, Bob, you had a veteran team that almost upset Arizona. This year you've got a young team comprised mostly of sophomores. Tell us the difference between that team and this team in terms of like a confidence or an experience factor that they had that this one doesn't?
BOB WILLIAMS: I don't think there is that much difference. We had a junior in Mark Hull who was a huge game-player and made big plays against that game against Arizona. But we started three sophomores on that team and four sophomores on this team.
And I think this group is less precise than that team. That team was a very technical team in terms of how it executed offensively, and it fit that personnel really well. This group is not as technical but makes plays at a higher level and are more versatile in the type of variety of guys that can make plays. And we have two great players, much like that team with Mark Hull and Brandon Fuller, of this team with James Nunnally and Orlando Johnson has two great players. This team probably has more guys that shoot the 3 at a higher level than that team. James Powell has the ability to get hot, Orlando and Nunnally, Nunnally being the best 3-point shooter in the league. There's enough weapons on this team in a certain game in any arena at any time if those guys are all hot at the same time, it could be an interesting experience.

Q. One thing I've noticed is that comparing teams, especially maybe your team from two years ago, this team seems a lot more quiet and understated than maybe the team of Alex Harris, Ivan Elliott and those guys, Chris Devine. Does that make them maybe a better -- give them a better opportunity not to be intimidated by a team like Ohio State, less emotional? How do you look at it?
BOB WILLIAMS: Every team has a little different personality. And I think you're pretty right, that team was fairly outgoing. You know, this group's pretty outgoing, but only amongst themselves.
And this team seems a little unfazed. The question mark is, we didn't play very well against Cal or against Arizona State. But it was also during a time in the year when we weren't playing well. Their confidence level is much better. They've grown together. They've gotten more confident. I think anytime you come off a tournament championship, you're playing with a little more confidence.
You're seeing some teams that almost get upset or do get upset. Some of the bigger schools they come in didn't win their tournament championship. They've lost their last game. They've had four, five, six days to sit on that loss and trying to straighten things out or whatever. And they maybe come in and don't play with that same confidence in the first ten minutes and it snowballs. This group is coming off playing its best basketball, I think, this last month, and because of that I like this group's personality going into the game.

Q. What's it been like watching tape of Evan Turner the last four days?
BOB WILLIAMS: A little bit like going to watch a horror movie.
[Laughter] you know, I've told anybody that's listened, we've had the good fortune, we played North Carolina last year when they were the national champions. We played Kansas when they were like No. 3 in the country. We played Stanford when they were 4 in the country. We haven't played against anybody that was like Evan Turner. I mean, he actually, to me, I'm watching him play. I'm just so impressed with how under control he is at all times, how he changes speed, how he creates opportunities for people around him, how he shoots the ball, how he posts, how he drives, how he defends, how he rebounds.
There's really not a weakness in his game. He's probably the most complete player, then, in my college tenure of being able to coach that I've had the opportunity to coach against.

Q. How about the rest of the team with Ohio State, the other things they can do that cause you concern also?
BOB WILLIAMS: Well, they have a team that reminds you a little bit, because of the guard play, shows you how old I am, to the triplets at Arkansas, except this is the quads, they have four guards they play all the time. They are as good a perimeter shooting team as there is in the country. They've got a big guy inside that's not afraid to do the dirty work.
That's such a luxury at this game at this level because everybody is trying to prove they belong at the next level. These kids seem to play really within themselves and really well together. And Coach Matta deserves a lot of credit with that. And how versatile those four guards are in terms of their ability to rebound and defend, but they all handle it, they all pass it and they all shoot it. And I gotta think it's a coach's dream to coach.
I mean, I have to think that has to be about as fun as any team in this country to coach because of how versatile the kids are.

Q. That being said, is there a formula to beat them? What would you have to do? I know defensively you talked about the perimeter shooting and your match-up zone has done a pretty good job against preventing 3-pointers. Does that give you any hope entering this game?
BOB WILLIAMS: Well, yeah, we have hope entering the game. We realize we're going to have to shoot the ball. Nunnally, Orlando, James, Jordan, Weiner, they get open looks, they'll have to knock down shots. We have to do that. We have to hope we can be physical enough to rebound with them, that they just don't kill us on the glass. We've had trouble with that. What gives us a little hope is during the tournament we played much better on the glass.
And so that's a positive sign. And then if our match-up can keep them on the perimeter a little bit, we keep them in front and they've got to hit 3s -- anybody can have a cold night from the 3-point line. Anybody. And so we just have to hope that they are not going to get in and track meat up and down the floor. We don't want to track meat against them. We can't get murdered on the glass. We have to control that. And we'll have to shoot the ball really well against them.

Q. Are they nervous at all, the Gauchos?
BOB WILLIAMS: I think Ohio State is really nervous. They've been watching us on film. [Laughter].
Our guys? I think they're excited. I mean, the nerves, quite frankly, going into the locker room before we played Long Beach in the championship, the Big West tournament, you could cut them with a knife. I had to leave the locker room and change my mindset to go back in, because I had to loosen them up. They were uptight and they were nervous.
This will not be as nervous. We will be looser going into this. And we should be. We have nothing to lose. We are David. They are Goliath. And we're not going to go out there and be hesitant about whether or not to let it fly. We're not going to go out there and be hesitant whether or not we need to take a shot.
We have to go out and play aggressive and play our style, but I think our kids will be looser than we were in the Big West tournament. And I want them intense enough and tight enough to compete defensively and be physical on the glass. But offensively we've got to be relaxed enough to make some plays.
DENNIS KRAUSE: Coach, thank you.

Gauchos practice in Milwaukee

Here is video footage, courtesy of Gauchodan, of the Gauchos running a fast break drill at the Bradley Center in Milwaukee, in preparation for their game against the Ohio State Buckeyes in the first round of the NCAA playoffs.

UCSB's quirky defense

Is it a zone D? Or a man-to-man? Let's hope Evan Turner and his Buckeye teammates are another line of opponents who are confused by the Gaucho defensive scheme.

Orlando Johnson's story

Orlando Johnson is a chip of two old blocks, a story behind a story. And this uplifting story is another reason to cheer for OJ and the Gaucho family.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Looking for a March Madness upset?


So you're filling out your bracket for the men's NCAA basketball tournament and you're itching to pick some upsets.

Hey, we understand. We're here to help.

To better understand upsets, and to find the best way to predict them, The Wall Street Journal looked at the 40 biggest NCAA tournament upsets since 2004—the games where the surprise winner was seeded at least five spots below the favorite.

For each upset, we compared the teams involved by their performance in two dozen categories. The majority of these comparisons were based on how the teams matched up—for instance, how well one team shot three-pointers during the season and how well their opponents defended against them. The same head-to-head comparisons were made for factors like rebounding and steals.

In the end, we found a few strong similarities between all of these matchups. But there was only one unequivocal theme: the importance of turnovers.

In 30 of the 40 games, the underdog "David" team had been better all season at protecting the ball and avoiding turnovers than the "Goliath" team had been at forcing them. Getting steals also is critical.

So what does all this research say about this year's tournament? Look for Murray State, a No. 13-seed that feasts on turnovers, to upset Vanderbilt. According to statistics compiled by basketball statistician Ken Pomeroy, Vanderbilt is decent at protecting the ball. But the Racers are one of the best at taking it away: Murray State forces turnovers on 24.6% of its opponents' possessions, a mark that places them No. 11 in the country among Division I teams.

Another team to watch is Richmond, a No. 7 seed with strong guard play, which could possibly win twice. The South Regional may have the most upsets of all: In the first round, fifth-seeded Texas A&M and sixth-seeded Notre Dame both face tricky matchups in Utah State and Old Dominion.

(By the same token, our research suggests some underdogs aren't going anywhere but home. New Mexico State, a No. 12 seed that has trouble rebounding, and San Diego State, a No. 11 that's often careless with the ball, fall into that camp.)
Five to Think About

Here are some good candidates to score an upset in the tournament.

1. Murray State: Vanderbilt had better be careful with the ball and on the boards against the Racers.

2. Old Dominion: The Monarchs, who beat then-unbeaten Georgetown in December, are a monster on the offensive glass.

3. Utah State: The Aggies nearly managed a first-round upset last year against Marquette.

4. Richmond: The Spiders' soundness with the ball could see them through to the Sweet 16.

5. Louisville: The No. 9 seed is arguably the biggest threat to No. 1 Duke in the so-so South.

A textbook example of the power of turnovers was last season's tournament upset involving Wake Forest and Cleveland State. Despite the difference in the teams' pedigrees—Cleveland State was a No. 13 seed while Wake had been ranked No. 1 earlier in the season—the matchup was perfect for the underdog. Wake Forest's principal weakness was its propensity to give up turnovers, while Cleveland State, an aggressive, pressing team, was one of the nation's best at forcing them.

Cleveland State coach Gary Waters says he initially told his players to slow it down, lest they get run off the floor by the high-scoring Demon Deacons. It wasn't until game night, after he'd watched 11th-seeded Dayton upset No. 6 West Virginia earlier in the day on TV, that he decided to bring the pressure. "Dayton pressed them all over the place," Mr. Waters says. "I thought to myself, 'Why can't we do that?' " Cleveland State did and ended up routing Wake Forest by 15.

Turnovers aren't everything, of course. For teams from smaller conferences that are facing the big guns, belief can be critical. Davidson coach Bob McKillop, whose 2008 team made a surprising run to the Elite Eight, notes that earlier that season the team got invaluable experience through competitive losses to North Carolina, Duke and UCLA. "It showed them that we could at least stay in the game for a significant amount of time," he says.
Five to Worry About

These teams are ripe to be picked off in an early round.

1. Purdue: Obviously. Minus Robbie Hummel, the Boilermakers have been helpless at times on the glass.

2. Georgetown: The Hoyas are prone to inconsistent play.

3. Baylor: The trendy sleeper can be careless with the ball.

4. Butler: First-round opponent UTEP is big and tough defensively.

5. Kentucky: Don't be shocked if a slow-paced opponent keeps the Wildcats from reaching the Final Four.

Along those lines, Utah State and Old Dominion are possible surprises this year. Utah State nearly upset Marquette in the first round last year, and Old Dominion beat Georgetown earlier this season.

The conventional wisdom during March Madness states that teams that shoot a lot of three-pointers are dangerous and that good teams that stumble right before the big dance are vulnerable. In the 40 upsets we examined, however, just 12 of the winning underdogs were ranked among the top 100 nationally in the percentage of total field-goal attempts that were three-pointers. And there's virtually no evidence that teams are affected by how they were playing beforehand.

For every team like Duke in 2007, which lost its last three games before getting upset in the first round by No. 11 Virginia Commonwealth, there's Kansas in 2006, which had won 15 of 16 before Bradley knocked the Jayhawks out in the first round. (This suggests that this year's late struggler, Syracuse, may not be entirely doomed).

Familiarity with the opponent can help, too. During George Mason's shocking run to the Final Four in 2006, the Patriots were uncommonly confident playing Michigan State, North Carolina, Wichita State and Connecticut.

GMU had played the Spartans close the year before, had an assistant coach who played at Carolina, had beaten Wichita State that same season and had a player, Will Thomas, who had faced UConn star Rudy Gay often before college. "Will told our guys, 'Hey, I was undefeated against him in high school—I'm not about to lose to him now,' " George Mason coach Jim Larranaga says.

Coach Williams interview with

As part of his 2010 NCAA Tournament Q&A series, Jon Teitel chats with Bob Williams, the coach of the Big West champion UCSB Gauchos. Williams discusses being named Coach of the Year in the Big West and their chances against Ohio St:

Jon Teitel: Prior to coming to UCSB, you coached for 8 years at UC Davis and won the 1998 D-2 title: why did you leave Davis to go to UCSB?

Bob Williams: I left Davis for a D-1 job that I thought had great potential, and I was right. It was the right time in my career to make a change and go to a place that was not only a good basketball, job but also a great place to live. I loved my time at Davis and I loved that community: I still do.

JT: What was it like to win the title?

BW: Winning the national championship at Davis was amazing. That was a great group of young men: they were so close and had really grown together as a team. It was a fantastic culmination of amazing effort.

JT: Orlando Johnson redshirted last year after transferring from LMU, and became the conference’s leading scorer and POY. Why did he choose USCB, and how has he been able to contribute so quickly?

BW: When Orlando decided to leave LMU, he visited a couple of different schools. He felt very comfortable with our guys, the staff, and the school: it was a good fit for him. His contributions have been huge. With Orlando, it’s more than stats: he sets the tone by how hard he works every day, both in practice and in games. He is also such a great young man with a great personality, so while his contributions on the court are obvious, he brings so much more than that.

JT: How does it feel to be named Big West Coach of the Year?

BW: It was an honor for our entire staff: they work so hard and are so prepared, and the result has been a tourney bid. It means a great deal to me, but I do not consider it an individual honor: it is the staff and the players that made it possible.

JT: You got into the tourney after James Powell made 4-of-4 FT in the final minute to clinch a 5-PT win over Long Beach ST. How clutch a player is Powell, and what was the feeling like in your locker room afterwards?

BW: It is funny: we were on the court for so long after the game and then we went straight to the press conference. By the time we made it to the locker room, it had pretty much calmed down. I will say this: the feeling after the game against Long Beach was very emotional. This group worked so hard and improved so much during the year that it was a real reward to win the tournament. To go from an 0-1 start in conference and trailing by 11 PTS at half in the 2nd game to a regular season title and tournament title was huge. As for James, he has been doing that all 4 years. He always comes through at the free throw line late in games: in fact, he made clutch FT late in each of our last 5 wins. In the last 5 minutes of games this year, he is 31-of-32 from the line: that is big time.

JT: Your team is a #15-seed and will play #2-seed OH ST on Friday. How do you like your chances, and how on earth are you going to try to stop Evan Turner?

BW: I guess I like the fact that we can be a pretty good 3-PT shooting team. We are a little streaky at times, but we have several players who can shoot the ball. OH ST is so good, and Evan Turner is probably the best player in the country. Right now, we are not sure how we are going to defend him. I do not think we can stop him, but I am not sure that anyone else can either.

Orlando Johnson selected to All-District 9 Team

UCSB sophomore guard Orlando Johnson has been selected First Team All-District 9 by the National Association of Basketball Coaches.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Gauchos draw the 15 seed in the Midwest Regional

The UCSB Men's basketball team is the 15 seed in the Midwest Regional of the NCAA playoffs, and will face the second-seeded Ohio State Buckeyes in the first round. The Gauchos (20 - 9), Big West Conference regular season and tournament champions, are matched up against the fifth-ranked Buckeyes (27 - 7), Big 10 champions.

The game will be played Friday, March 19 at 6:35 pm PT in Milwaukee's Bradley Center.

Gauchos defeat 49ers to earn NCAA berth

The UCSB Men's basketball team defeated the Long Beach State 49ers to win the Big West Conference Tournament in Anaheim, and earned a berth into the NCAA playoffs. The Gauchos (20 - 9) were led by tournament Most Valuable Player Orlando Johnson's 20 points, followed by James Nunnally with 19, and Jaime Serna's eleven. Jaime Serna and Nunnally shared the team high in rebounds with six, while Johnson led the Gauchos with four assists.

The third-seeded 49ers (17 - 16) overcame a 35 - 30 first-half deficit to take a 53 - 52 lead in the second half, on the strength of balanced scoring from Casper Ware, TJ Robinson, Greg Plater, and Larry Anderson who scored 19, 15, 14, and 11 points, respectively. Robinson led the 49ers with eight rebounds and Plater dished out five assists. However, the 49ers could not hold the lead, as Nunnally hit a key 3-pointer to up the Gaucho lead to 53 - 49 with 1:43 left. Johnson, Powell and Nunnally all hit key free throws to clinch the game and the Big West Tournament championship.

The Gauchos earn the automatic bid into the NCAA playoffs as the Big West Conference representative.

Box Score

Gauchos defeat UCD 76 - 62 to advance to Big West Finals

The UCSB Men's basketball team defeated the UCD Aggies 76 - 62 to advance to the finals of the Big West Conference Tournament at the Anaheim Convention Center. Fifth-year senior James Powell led the Gaucho (19 - 9) attack with 22 points, including six free throws in the final 1:09 to clinch the victory for UCSB. James Nunnally scored 17 points while Orlando Johnson chipped in 14 points. Nunnally had game highs of nine rebounds and five assists, while Greg Somogyi pulled down seven defensive rebounds and blocked three shots. Will Brew had three steals for the top-seeded Gauchos.

Dominic Calegari led the Aggies (14 - 18) with 20 points, followed by Joe Harden's 18 and freshman Julian Welch's 17. Todd Lowenthal and Harden shared the team high in rebounds with seven.

The Gauchos built up a commanding 31 - 11 lead in the first half, powered by a suffocating defense which limited the fourth-seeded Aggies to 18.2% shooting from the field. Following a familiar pattern, UCSB's lead shrunk to five with 7:01 left in the game, before Powell nailed a 3-point shot from the right baseline with the shot clock about to expire. The Gauchos never looked back from that point on, as Powell continued his clutch free throw shooting to clinch the win.

The Gauchos continued their quest for the Big West Tournament championship with a game against the Long Beach State 49ers in the finals.

Box Score

Monday, March 15, 2010

Top 10 reasons to be a Gaucholoco

10. State St. bars and Del Playa parties
9. Freebirds burritos only cost $9
8. you're guaranteed to have tar on your surfboard, wetsuit, hair and feet
7. 7 years, 14 bikes
6. our gym is called the Thunderdome
5. FT had to change its name due to its amorous reputation--the pool scene resembled a resort more than a dorm
4. our faculty has five Nobel Laureates
3. we have been NCAA champions in water polo, soccer, surfing, and ultimate frisbee
2. shoes and underwear are optional attire; our coeds go to class in bikini tops
1. we don't live in Ohio.

Go Gauchos!

Jim Rome's take on the Gauchos


UCSB Is In The Tournament

If you're going to put yourself out there, take a big swing. I'm talking about 15th seeded UC-freaking-Santa Barbara locking up with second seeded Ohio St. in Milwaukee. West coast meets Midwest. Big West meets Big Ten. Best thing I've seen since Michigan St. stud Steve Smith stabbed the fellas' in the heart in the second round back in 1990 in Knoxville. But I'm feeling something different now.

Look, I'm big Thad Matta fan. And I know Evan Turner is the truth. And walk-on Mark Titus gets more run than just about any All-American I know. So I have nothing but respect for the Buckeye basketball program. Except on Friday! Friday, its go-time and I bleed Gaucho.

Now, I won't go like my man LenDale White. And I'm not going to stand here and call my shot. But I'll say this! The boys from I.V. are going to have a little something for the Buckeyes. They'll show up and turn their rings around. Sure OSU has the probable National Player of the Year. But do they have the Big West Player of the Year? No. We do! Orlando Johnson. A cat, coach Bob Williams describes as having "a football body and a basketball brain." Yeah probably could have played football in the Big Ten, but chose to play basketball in the Big West instead. Who wouldn't?

And big game James Powell was lived his whole life for this moment. That why's he rocks an "against all odds" tat. He should run his teammates down to lower State Street to get them their ink before this one. And there's a reason forward Jamie Serna's handle is "rage". Because that's what he runs on! And we can shoot it if the Buckeyes disrespect us, and our threes are falling. Come Friday night, kegs will be tapped and couches will be burned in I.V. And if they do respect us, and punch us in the face, kegs will be still be tapped and couches will be still burned in I.V. So even if we lose, we win.

Man, it feels good to be a Gaucho. Now, don't embarrass me fellas'. War Sam's to go. The Egghead and F.T.

Gauchos dance!

The UCSB Gauchos Men's basketball team defeated the Long Beach State 49ers to win the Big West Conference Tournament championship and secure an automatic berth in the NCAA playoffs.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Big West gains some recognition

Gauchos win Big West awards

Coach Bob Williams, sophomores Orlando Johnson and James Nunnally won Big West Conference awards for the 2009 - 2010 season. Coach Williams was named Big West Coach of the Year, and Johnson was named Big West Player of the year, along with being named on the All-Big West First Team. Nunnally was chosen for the All-Big West Second Team.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Big West Tournament seeds are set

The Big West Conference Tournament seeds are set.
35th Annual Big West Men’s Basketball Tournament
March 10-13, 2010 • Anaheim Convention Center Arena • Anaheim, Calif.

The Big West Conference Men’s and Women’s Basketball Tournament returns to the Anaheim Convention Center Arena for the 10th consecutive year. Eight of the nine teams advance to this season’s tournament at the Anaheim Convention Center, March 10-13. Wednesday’s first-round games will include only teams seeded Nos. 5 to 8. Winners on Wednesday will advance to play teams seeded Nos. 3 and 4 on Thursday. Thursday’s winners will meet teams seeded Nos. 1 and 2 in the semifinals on Friday. In each round, the highest seeded team playing that day will play the lowest remaining seeded team. The men’s and women’s tournament championship games will be on Saturday, March 13.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Gauchos wrap up Big West championship

The UCSB Men's basketball team defeated the UCI Anteaters 77 - 74 to clinch the Big West Conference regular season championship. In reversing the 55 - 57 defeat to the Anteaters (13 - 17, 5 - 10) that started the conference season at the Bren Center in Irvine, CA, the Gauchos (18 - 9, 12 - 4) also ensured themselves a #1 seed and bye into next Friday's Big West Tournament semifinals in Anaheim. Lower seeded teams will compete next Wednesday and Thursday for a chance to upset the Gauchos in one of Friday's semifinals.

James Nunnally led the Gauchos in scoring with 22 points, followed by Orlando Johnson's 20 points. But it was senior James Powell who shined on Senior Night, as he connected on 4-of-6 3-point shots, and more importantly, calmly iced the game with key free throws down the stretch, making all four attempts from the charity stripe. Powell finished with 16 points, while Jaime Serna chipped in 11 points. Greg Somogyi and Johnson had strong rebounding games with five defensive boards each, while Nunnally had a game-high seven assists.

UCI was led by Eric Wise with 22 points, and Michael Hunter with 18, mostly from the perimeter. The burly Wise also led the Anteaters with seven rebounds, followed by Patrick Rembert's six boards and four assists from the guard position.

UCI started the game strong and grabbed a quick lead, but fell behind by as much as 16 points in the second half. However, they made a strong push late in the game, climbing with one point with Rembert shooting a 1-and-1 to take the lead with 18 seconds left. But the crowd in the Thunderdome came alive, and the roar reached a crescendo as Rembert stepped to the free throw line. A normally consistent free throw shooter at 86%, Rembert missed badly on the front end of the 1-and-1, and the Anteaters were forced to foul James Powell, who sank both free throws to extend the lead to the final 77 - 74 margin. UCI tried a last-ditch attempt at a 3-point shot which also missed wide, and the Gauchos then celebrated their Big West regular season championship.

Seniors James Powell and Paul Roemer were sent off with a win in their last home game at the Thunderdome. Both were honored prior to the game. The Gauchos will play in next Friday's, March 12 semifinal against an opponent to be determined. Two busses will be chartered to bring fans to the Anaheim Convention Center. At stake to the winner of the Big West Tournament is the automatic berth into the NCAA playoffs.

Last night's game illustrated how important a homecourt advantage is. The players will need Gaucho fans to come to Anaheim and cheer them on as they attempt to go dancing during March Madness. Get your tickets and see you in Anaheim. Ole, and go Gauchos!

Box Score

Gauchos are Big West champs! photos

UCSB clinches the Big West regular season championship on Senior Night! Congratulations to Paul Roemer and James Powell on fantastic careers as Gauchos! Click on photos to enlarge.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Senior Night

Tomorrow night (Wednesday, March 3) will be the last home game at the Thunderdome for seniors James Powell and Paul Roemer. Start time is 7 pm, but fans should get there early as both players will be saluted prior to the game against the UC-Irvine Anteaters. UCI beat the Gauchos in the Big West Conference season opener, so there will be an element of revenge, but more importantly, a Gaucho win will clinch the #1 seed for the Big West Tournament (BWT) in Anaheim next week.

Fortunately, the Gauchos have already clinched at worst a #2 seed, so they will earn an automatic bye into the semifinals of the BWT. But first things first: a win in their last home game would be a nice send-off for the seniors.