Friday, November 5, 2010

Big West Conference preview

PREDICTED ORDER OF FINISH: 1. UC Santa Barbara, 2. Pacific, 3. Long Beach State, 4. UC Davis, 5. Cal State Fullerton, 6. Cal Poly, 7. UC Irvine, 8. UC Riverside, 9. Cal State Northridge

UC SANTA BARBARA - The defending champion Gauchos are poised for another title run in 2010-11, as they return all five starters from last year's squad. The next win will be No. 200 in the career of UCSB head coach Bob Williams, who has guided the team to winning seasons in eight of the last nine years. After making their first trip to the NCAA Tournament in eight years, Williams and the Gauchos are looking to make it back, and advance. With reigning Big West Player of the Year Orlando Johnson back in the fold, along with swing man and fellow First Team All-BWC selection James Nunnally, there's certainly a good chance for that to happen. Johnson led the conference with 18.0 ppg and reached double figures in all 30 contests the first Gaucho to do so since 1996-97. Meanwhile, Nunnally averaged 14.7 ppg while leading the team with 5.6 rebounds per contest. He also ranked second in the conference in three-point percentage by hitting 46-of-101 attempts (.455). Junior point guard Will Brew started every game last season and led the squad with 40 steals. Despite having a wealth of talent at his disposal, coach Williams knows his Gauchos will be marked men this year and has cautioned them against taking anything for granted.

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