Sunday, December 18, 2011

UCSB Rallies Late Against Washington, But Runs out Gas, Falling 87-80 to the Huskies

Gauchos Travel to Cal on Monday

Boswell's juggling act impressive

Goose on the Loose for UCSB

Gauchos Rally But Run Out of Gas in 87-80 Loss at Washington

Box Score

Winning friends, and games

Under the Hat: A Night With Jerry Pimm

A Holiday Wish from UCSB Basketball

Thursday, December 1, 2011

UNLV 94, UCSB 88 (2 OT), 11-30-11, by Gaucho Hoops

UCSB Cheer Team, 11-30-11

UCSB vs. UNLV 11.30.11 End of Regulation - Double OT

Last Seconds of Regulation

ESPN Photo Gallery of UNLV vs. UCSB, 11/30/11

Resilient Rebels need two overtimes, but finally dispose of Santa Barbara in hostile environment

Photo Gallery

UNLV gets the better of UCSB in double-overtime classic

Gauchos Lose Double-OT Heartbreaker to No. 18 UNLV, 94-88

Box Score

Jerry Pimm Honored as 'Legend of the 'Dome'

UNLV's Chace Stanback 3-pointer that ties UCSB for second overtime

Greg Somogyi sends UNLV-UCSB game into overtime

James Nunnally charging fouls vs. UNLV

Men's Basketball: 11/30: UCSB Falls to No.18 UNLV in Double-OT

UCSB Men's Basketball Intros

Monday, November 28, 2011

Former Gauchos at the SDSU game, and UNLV coming up

As a side note to the San Diego State game last Saturday, former Gaucho post  players Jon Pastorek and Sam Phippen were seen roaming the sidelines.

Former clutch outside shooter James Powell was also there during and after the game.  As a true Gaucho, he took the loss for his former teammates hard too, but he still managed to greet well-wishers with his always upbeat and friendly smile and handshake.  Seeing him there brought back memories of his clutch 3-point jumpers.

JP is now an assistant coach at Centennial High School in Corona, CA.  Michael Caffey, one of the highest ranked freshmen on Big West rival Long Beach State's squad, hails from Centennial.  James had the pleasure of coaching Caffey for his senior year at Centennial.  Hopefully, some of that pipeline runs through to UCSB in the future, now that James is there.

It's always great to see former Gaucho players in the stands.  It means the Gaucho family is alive and thriving. 

Here is a video of JP's game-winning shot against UNLV in 2007--watch the ensuing bedlam.

UNLV is coming to the Thunderdome on Wednesday at 7 pm.  They are undefeated, with a record of 8 - 0, after beating the former Number 1 ranked University of North Carolina Tarheels Saturday.

As a bonus, former UCSB head coach Jerry Pimm will be introduced as a Legend of the Dome at halftime.  Rumor has it that former UNLV coaching legend Jerry Tarkanian will also be at the ceremony, a reunion of old and friendly rivals.

The SDSU game was extremely competitive and the most exciting game in the Thunderdome so far.  The match up against UNLV will be just as entertaining.  Don't miss it.  Go Gauchos!

SDSU 76. UCSB 75 (OT), 11-26-11 video highlights

Saturday, November 12, 2011

UCSB Cheer Team, 11-11-11

Hoop Mania

UC-Santa Barbara Overwhelms Chapman, 74-48

2011-2012 Season Preview: UC-Santa Barbara

PHOTO GALLERY: Gauchos defeat Chapman in opener

Green injury takes luster off Johnson debut and Gaucho win

Men's Basketball: 11/11 UCSB defeats Chapman University, 74-48

Nunnally Shines as Gauchos Open Season With Victory Over Chapman, 74-48

Box Score

Friday, November 11, 2011

UCSB Signs Four to NLIs in Second Consecutive Outstanding Recruiting Class

Gaucho Hoops notes from practice in the Thunderdome

I wandered into the Thunderdome yesterday to check out the Gauchos prepare for their first regular season game against Chapman tonight.  I got there a little early before the men's basketball team began their practice, and right when the women's volleyball team was just finishing up, while the team managers were breaking down the nets.

In doing so, I had my annual meeting with Coach Kathy Gregory.  Even with practice over, Coach was still coaching up the players still present, recovering from another grueling practice.  Coach never lets up--it's clearly evident that she not only played volleyball, coaches volleyball, but leaves, breathes, and eats volleyball.  After all these years, she still remembers me from the beach volleyball class I enrolled in decades ago.  Even as a novice, she would push us when partnered with her in two-man (woman) beach volleyball.  I can honestly declare her "vocal" encouragement helped me play better back in the day.

The good news is Coach Gregory is always recruiting also, so despite the departure of 3 seniors, she anticipates a couple of strong upcoming recruiting classes.  Speaking of seniors, Gaucholocos need to send out the three seniors in style this Saturday night against arch rival Cal Poly.  Chelsey Lowe, Lily Lopez, and Stacey Schmidt deserve a nice send off on Senior Night in their push toward a berth in the NCAA playoffs.  Good luck, Lady Gauchos!

Now on to the men's basketball team.  They arrived and started doing their normal stretching calisthenics, similar to their pre-game routine.  The scout team of Prince Arceneaux, Tyler Steinhause, Shawn Moore, and Duke Da Re ran simulated offensive plays from the Chapman playbook (tonight's opponent) on the opposite end of the 'Dome.

Under one basket, post players Greg Somogyi, Jaime Serna, Alan Williams and Christian Peterson did some Wooden layup drills, before being fed passes to knock down turnaround jumpers in the post.  Guards and wings Orlando Johnson, James Nunnally, Nate Garth, Kyle Boswell, John Green, TJ Taylor, Taran Brown, and Lewis Thomas performed some shooting drills from the perimeter under another basket.  Keegan Hornbuckle was riding the stationary bike, waiting for his turn in the near future, hopefully.  Obviously, we are loaded at the wing position, which will figure in the redshirt situation.

Next up was "Jailbreak", which I think was a 5-man secondary fast break drill.  I'm assuming it's labeled jailbreak because players sprint to their assigned spots after a made or missed bucket on consecutive possessions.  To simulate the missed basket, Coach Matt Stock would put in a weird contraption above one of the rims--a trash basket top.  I call it the Somogyi "roof" defense--"ain't no one scoring--not in my house."

Because the Gauchos are deep as well as talented, sixteen players rotated among 3 teams: silver, blue, and black shirts.  Not sure if this means anything, or if it indicates who will start tonight, but the silver team consisted of OJ, Nunn, Nate, Jaime, and Christian.  It doesn't matter:  because 80% of practice was dedicated to defensive rotations, I'm going to speculate whoever plays defense with the most intensity, and executes on their defensive assignments will get the most playing time.  This applies to All-Americans on the team or to the last walk-on on the bench.  Here's the good news:  even OJ and Nunn have internalized this:  not only for the benefit of winning more Gaucho games, but also to increase their chances at the next level.  Defense is underrated in Div. 1 college basketball, but it's also underrated at the NBA level.  Two buzzwords to remember:  Recognition and Effort.

Recognition means who and when to rotate to, and when to drop down, and when to close out--all with the desired outcome of challenging every shot.  Team defense means communicating and help defense--and covering for each other.  Without going into details of the various defenses (for obvious reasons), expect the Gauchos to mix up their defensive schemes between a switching man-to-man and match up zone.  Keep the opponents guessing, and at the same time, make the Gauchos harder to scout.  What impressed me the most is that you have to VERY smart to play for Coach Williams, because a lot is expected of you intellectually on the court.  Of course, the problem is if you have to think about it, you are smoked.  Hence, the constant repetition enables the players' decisions to either drop down or close out second-nature.  The reaction time has to be immediate--and anticipatory.

The flip side of the coin is that if it's a system which is difficult for the Gauchos to execute, it is even more difficult for the opponents to recognize once a possession starts.

Effort--well, that's self-explanatory.  If you don't put out maximum effort, you sit.

Aside from the secondary fast break drills, some time was spent on breaking the fullcourt press.  Coach Williams gave some very important insights on how to break it--again, I will leave out the details.  The halfcourt offense is mostly isolations and lots of double screens to spring an open shooter, a scheme which presumably enables our shooters to have optimal scoring opportunities.  Sorry to be vague, but we want our guys to win games, right?

I will say this:  on both offense and defense, it helps that our players are versatile enough to play several different roles, whether it's bringing the ball up, passing, or defending.  In other words, our point guards aren't the only ones who dribble up court on every possession.  Even if you're a 4, you better have handles.  And you better be able to defend several different players.

Next came some end of game situations, and the various defensive strategies.

Coach Williams commented that this team has very strong leadership, and not just with the stars.  OJ and Nunn lead by example, but they are also more vocal this year.  Nate is a transfer, but he's like a coach on the court.  But even the freshmen have leadership presence.  It's a sign they come from winning backgrounds.  The team of Alex Harris, Ivan Elliot, Chris Devine, and a young Justin Joyner also displayed strong leadership--they were true warriors.  This team has the same mental make-up.

We all know OJ's prolific scoring abilities and his indefatigable work ethic.  We've seen Nunn's beautiful outside stroke hit clutch shot after clutch shot.  But few know Somogyi has a great shooting stroke also.  And Boswell may be our most consistent outside threat this year.  We've seen John Green explode for a point per minute in his first exhibition.  Because his arms are so long, and his release point is so far away from the defender, his shot is difficult to block.  I tried vainly to pretend to guard him after practice as he knocked down jumper after jumper.  No dice.  He expectedly abused me--as he did San Francisco State.

My conclusion is this team can score in bunches--with many different options.  But the key to being a great team is their commitment to defense.  Because when the defensive focus was there, the offensive team on the court at the time just couldn't score consistently.

Coach Williams was also pleased with the class of 2012 recruits, announced here.

Without getting specific, he said this class was tough, athletic, skilled, and came from winning programs.  There was one open scholarship left.  Freshmen Green, Taylor, and Williams were definitely not redshirting.  The redshirt status of Thomas and Brown is dependent on injuries, readiness, and playing time--or lack of available minutes.  It's unwise to waste a year sitting on the bench.  A great example of the benefits of redshirting points to Mark Hull, despite Hull's initial protests.  That extra year allowed Hull to get stronger, develop his skills, and learn the game.  Hull later became one of four all-time greats in the Williams era, the others being BJ Bunton, Alex Harris, and Orlando Johnson.  James Nunnally has a chance to join that select group.

In summary, this season shapes up to be a good year, and potentially one of the greatest in Gaucho history.  It's all up to the team and their level of commitment.  The talent is there to get it done.

A message to Gaucholocos:  this could be a special year for the team.  Make sure you don't miss it.

A big thanks to the players, the assistant coaches, the team managers, and Coach Williams for allowing me this special privilege.  Now go out there and kick some ass tonight.  Go Gauchos!

Foothill’s Bryson ready to impress

Mike Bryson Shows Out At 2011 Ballislife Magic Memorial Day Tournament!

Post-July BB Roundtable (Michael Bryson)
Whose coming out party?

Steve Hu: For this question, I chose the players who were not ranked in the NCP rankings and probably will have a very good shot at making it in the next release. Michael Bryson 2012, Foothill, Play Hard Play Smart: That PHPS team has a bunch of wing players who look like clones in their skill set. But Bryson made a big leap as he really had a big performance in the Three Stripes tournament that really solidified his summer interest for several college programs. Bryson is a versatile wing that could fit into the schemes of many college programs.

Foothill's Bryson to play for UC Santa Barbara

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

SEC Talent Rules in 2011-2012 Naismith Preseason Watch List

UCSB's Orlando Johnson is on another preseason awards list.

UCSB vs San Francisco State 11/5/11

Talk'n Gauchos Features Tim Vom Steeg, Dom Sarle, Bob Williams and Carlene Mitchell

A breath of fresh air in the 'Dome

Long Beach State's basketball hopes are riding on four seniors,0,3392902.story
UC Santa Barbara

2010-11 record:
18-14 overall, 8-8 in Big West

Top returners:
Orlando Johnson, G, 6-5, Sr., 21.1 ppg, 6.2 rpg; James Nunnally, G, 6-7, Sr., 16.3 ppg, 5.7 rpg; Jaime Serna, F, 6-9, Sr., 7.7 ppg, 4.3 rpg.

Top newcomers: Nate Garth, G, 6-2, Jr., transfer from New Mexico; Keegan Hornbuckle, F, 6-7, So., transfer from Colorado.

Outlook: The Gauchos have been to the last two NCAA tournaments because of consecutive Big West tournament championships. Johnson has been the league player of the year and tournament most valuable player. He and Nunnally are a formidable 1-2 punch.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Writer roundtable: Three big questions
3. What's one conference POY race that will be fun to track throughout the season?
Leung: Long Beach State's Casper Ware and UC Santa Barbara's Orlando Johnson will battle it out in the Big West, and given that both seniors have won the award before, it should be an interesting race. Johnson (21.1 ppg) is the nation's second-leading returning scorer and looking to play in his third straight NCAA tournament after withdrawing his name from the NBA draft. Ware is the reigning player of the year who was also named the conference's top defender. His 49ers have been denied a trip to the NCAA tournament by UCSB in each of the last two seasons.

Orlando and Emilie Highlight the "J v. J" Campaign for Basketball

Men's and Women's Basketball 10/27: Media Day

UCSB basketball media day - Legends of the Dome announcement

Gaucho basketball media day (women's basketball)

Veterans ready to lead Gauchos to greater heights

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Media Tab Long Beach State Frontrunner To Win Men's Basketball Title
Media Poll Results
1.    Long Beach State (20)    212
2.    UC Santa Barbara (4)     196
3.    Cal Poly                           158
4.    Cal State Fullerton          131
5.    UC Riverside                   114
6.    Pacific                               91
7.    UC Davis                          62
8.    Cal State Northridge         61
9.    UC Irvine                           55

( ) First-place votes

Preseason Media All-Conference Team

Name                        School                      Position     Year         Hometown
Larry Anderson         Long Beach State      Guard         Senior      Long Beach, Calif.
David Hanson           Cal Poly                     Forward      Senior      Plymouth, Minn.
Orlando Johnson      UC Santa Barbara     Guard         Senior      Seaside, Calif.
James Nunnally        UC Santa Barbara     Guard         Senior      Stockton, Calif.
T.J. Robinson            Long Beach State      Forward     Senior      West Haven, Conn.
Casper Ware             Long Beach State      Guard        Senior      Cerritos, Calif.

Williams maps out a big season

Lady Gauchos Picked to Finish Second in Preseason Poll

Gaucho Foursome Earns Preseason Honors

Prep basketball: Poway High’s Beeler commits to UC Santa Barbara
Sam Beeler wasn’t sure exactly how many scholarship offers he received, but the Poway High basketball player knows it was easily over a dozen and included big names like Washington State, Oregon State and Utah.
But ultimately, it was a California school that won the heart of the 6-foot-10, 205-pound center, as the senior gave a verbal commitment to UC Santa Barbara Oct. 7.
“I had a few really good visits and they went well and it was just a really good atmosphere and it has all the key elements I was looking for with academics and basketball,” Beeler said. “It is also right on the beaches.”
36. Orlando Johnson (senior guard, UC-Santa Barbara). Stud of a player who I'm really glad got this high of a ranking. Johnson's the real deal. Can be a future pro, and he deserves a moment in the 2012 NCAA tournament. — M.N.
75. Casper Ware (senior guard, Long Beach State). Vastly underrated. Terrific work ethic, gets after it on the defensive end and also can score and set his teammates up. — J.G.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Sam Beeler verbally commits to UCSB

ESPN reports that class of 2012 6'10" center Sam Beeler from Poway, CA verbally committed to the UCSB men's basketball program.

Here is video of Beeler's junior season at Poway High School.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Top 35 High School Basketball Players in Washington 2/1/11

UCSB verbal commit Mitch Brewe was the 11th-ranked player in the state of Washington last year, but was the 2nd highest-ranked junior.
11. Mitch Brewe (Jr.)- Seattle Prep, F, 6'8": When you are leading the best conference in the state in scoring, you are deserving of the spotlight. Brewe is leading the league with 23.1 points per game. He has been absolutely dominant in the low post. Along with this, he has extended his range considerably and can consistently hit from 15 feet out. The scholarship offers will start rolling in once he gets more exposure during the playoffs and the spring AAU circuit.

Seattle Prep's Mitch Brewe talks about college commitment

Here's another article on his verbal commitment to UCSB.

Johnson Named to John R. Wooden Award Preseason Top 50 List

Gauchos Featured as Many as Six Times in Big West TV Package

Monday, October 3, 2011

Scouting the Wooden Award watch list
Orlando Johnson, 6-5, Sr., G, UC Santa Barbara
"He's one of the most gifted offensive players I have ever coached against. He's extremely skilled with a killer instinct, and he makes big shots."

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Writer roundtable: Three big questions
3. What's one conference POY race that will be fun to track throughout the season?

Leung: Long Beach State's Casper Ware and UC Santa Barbara's Orlando Johnson will battle it out in the Big West, and given that both seniors have won the award before, it should be an interesting race. Johnson (21.1 ppg) is the nation's second-leading returning scorer and looking to play in his third straight NCAA tournament after withdrawing his name from the NBA draft. Ware is the reigning player of the year who was also named the conference's top defender. His 49ers have been denied a trip to the NCAA tournament by UCSB in each of the last two seasons.

USA Basketball Names 2011 Women’s Pan American Games Team

Props to Emilie Johnson and the UCSB women's basketball program.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Take A Look at the 2011-12 Men's Basketball Preview

2011 World University Games photos on Facebook

Men’s basketball to host two NCAA teams


Orlando Johnson got better while overseas

Under the Hat: An Inside Look with Dr. Jeremy Bettle

There's No Lag Time for Orlando Johnson

Home Games Against San Diego State, UNLV Highlight Gaucho Basketball Schedule

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Johnson, Team USA Drop Heartbreaker to Lithuania, 76-74

NZL 56 vs 90 HUN Box Score

USA Men Fall 76-74 To Lithuania In Quarterfinals

Box Score

Orlando Johnson (UC Santa Barbara)

Did you get the looks you wanted down the stretch when you were trying to come back?

We had open looks. It was just one of those days where the shots just don’t fall your way. I couldn’t say maybe we could have got a better shot, but the shots that we took were shots that we practiced. We have to live with that. It’s a tough one for all of us. I know in our minds we had one goal and we can’t accomplish that now. But, now we need to regroup and finish strong in China. I think we’re going to do that. We’re going to bounce back and still represent our country. 

On the Lithuanian team:

They fought hard. They fought really hard. You could tell they’ve been together for awhile. They’ve been in games like this before. There were situations down the stretch we didn’t execute … we just didn’t finish. This is something we can all learn from, not to take anyone for granted. We didn’t, but we just have to be ready to get on it every moment, every time we step out onto the court, because somebody’s coming to beat us. You could see how excited they were to win and this wasn’t even the gold medal game. We just have to learn and keep moving forward.

Timeout with nate boogie: I'm back at it...

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Balanced Attack Leads 5-0 U.S. Past Israel, Johnson Scores Four

Israel - USA Box Score

Korea - Hungary Box Score

Johnson, Team USA Remain Perfect in Pool Play

USA - Finland Box Score

Mexico - Hungary Box Score

Somogyi, Johnson Continue Play at World University Games

Johnson, Team USA, Defeat Somogyi, Hungary, 102-53 at World University Games

Box Score

Johnson, Somogyi Meet on Other Side of World

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Photos of Orlando Johnson vs. Team Mexico at WUG, 8/13/11

Click on image to enlarge.

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USA Runs Away In Second Half To 108-67 Victory Over Mexico

Box Score

Orlando Johnson (UC Santa Barbara)

On playing in his first official World University Games contest:

 Definitely got the nerves out. It took us a little while to get going. Mexico got out to a good start, though. They played tough. Over the course of the game we started getting into our zone, started picking it up on defense and communicating. At the beginning of the game we didn’t really talk too much and that’s where we were getting caught up and they were getting easy baskets. But towards late in the second quarter we started fixing that. 

The team also started off slow in its exhibition game. Does that make you nervous that this is another slow start?

It doesn’t make us nervous, it probably worries us a little bit, but we need to not let this happen anymore. I think we’re getting enough players in it. We have enough respect for each other to get on each other to let us know that we can’t have games like that. There’s going to be teams that’s going to be able to get a lead and keep that lead. We don’t want to be in a position like that again. 

What about foul trouble, are you adjusting to that?

We’re definitely adjusting. It’s just different from the States. We’re going to have to put it in our minds that we can’t talk to the refs. That’s going to be a technical. We’re just going to have to play the game and I think we’re smart enough to do that.

World University Games, Team USA Facebook page

Opening Ceremonies Featuring U.S. Flag Bearer Orlando Johnson

Orlando Johnson, Team USA #9!/UCSBgauchos/status/101069806014435331/photo/1

Friday, August 12, 2011

2011 UCSB Men's Basketball photo album

The Arena Pulse '11-12 Season Preview: Nation's Top 5 Returning Scorers
No. 2- Orlando Johnson, Sr. (UC-Santa Barbara)- 21.1 ppg in 2010-2011

Orlando Johnson declared for the 2011 NBA Draft after the Gauchos made an appearance in the NCAA Tournament. Johnson returns for his senior season, giving UC-Santa Barbara another opportunity to threaten for a NCAA Tournament bid in 2011-2012. After averaging 21.1 points per game last season, Johnson has become an elite scorer for the Gauchos in each of the past two seasons. After spending his freshman year at Loyola Marymount, Johnson sat out the 2008-09 season before becoming eligible in 09-10. With one run remaining, Johnson hopes this upcoming season is even better than a year ago.

Somogyi Gets His Opportunity on International Stage

World University Games opening ceremonies

Hungary enters at the 50:52 mark.  UCSB basketball player Greg Somogyi is on Hungary's basketball team.

UCSB basketball player Orlando Johnson leads the US delegation at the 99:42 minute mark, carrying the United States flag.  Other UCSB representatives include Assistant men's water polo coach John Abdou, men's volleyball outside hitter Jeff Menzel, and men's track and field 800-meter runner Ryan Martin.

Photo of Orlando Johnson, United States flag-bearer:!/UCSBgauchos/status/102169326014038016/photo/1

Five Gauchos to Participate at World University Games

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Torch and Flag Bearers selected for Team USA!
USA Athletes will march into Shenzhen Bay Stadium tomorrow to officially begin the 2011 World University Games.   USA Head of Delegation Dr. Gary Cunningham announced that Men’s Basketball player Orlando Johnson will lead USA Athletes as the official Flag Bearer.   Johnson plays guard at University of California, Santa Barbara.  Johnson was selected out of over 400 athletes on the USA Team.  “It’s unbelievable. I was proud to make the basketball team and to play for my country, and now to carry the flag and lead the U.S. delegation feels real special. I feel very honored.” Said Johnson.  More than 140 countries are represented in the 2011 Universiade and each has designated a Flag Bearer to lead their country. “I just hope I don’t fall. I hope that I can help bring honor to my country and hold the flag high and hold it proud. I’m definitely looking forward to it, walking out with the rest of the athletes who are all here to compete and do our best.” Said Johnson.  The games officially begin tomorrow and Opening Ceremonies kicks off at 7:30pm China time.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

USA Men Warm Up In China With Practice Scrimmage Against Japan
Orlando Johnson (UC Santa Barbara)

How do you feel physically after a long travel day yesterday, and then three quarters of scrimmaging today?

I thought the travel day went pretty well. It was a long trip, but you just have to come ready and get your mind right so you are ready to play. 

Was today's scrimmage helpful as you prepare for your first pool play game on Aug. 13?

Today's scrimmage helped us get our legs back a little bit. We definitely feel a little jet-lagged, but we'll be fine. We are just ready to get to the exhibition game tomorrow and to keep building. Our ultimate goal is the gold medal, and we have some work to do to get there. 

How do you think the team played today?

We weren't at our best today, we know that, but as long as you can control your effort, how hard we play on defense and our communication, things will be fine. I think we did a pretty good job of that today. We still have things to clean up, and we'll probably watch some film and talk about those things. 

What are your first impressions of the athletes' village?

It's pretty cool how you see all of the different countries here and to get a chance to interact with them. Especially being a basketball player from the U.S., a lot of people look up to us because of how dominant we have been in basketball. When they recognize that and they respect you for that, it makes you feel pretty good about yourself. So, I'm very honored to be here and to have the chance to not only play with some great athletes but also to meet some great athletes from around the world.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Mangano, Johnson get a world stage

UC Santa Barbara’s Orlando Johnson continues his rapid ascent
Not long after Wednesday's final day of tryouts for the U.S. team that will compete in the World University Games later this month, UC Santa Barbara guard Orlando Johnson sat in his room in Colorado Springs anxiously awaiting his fate.
A knock on his door meant the USA Basketball officials were there to inform him he was one of the final two roster cuts. No knock meant his spot on the team was safe and he was officially China-bound next week.
"I didn't get a knock, so I was good to go," Johnson said with a chuckle Thursday night. "It probably won't hit me until I get on the plane and land in China because I've never been out of the country. It's going to be an amazing experience. I can't wait to put that jersey on and see that USA on it and try to win a gold medal."
That Johnson made the U.S. roster isn't a huge surprise even if he isn't a household name among fans because he doesn't play at a marquee program.
He averaged a Big West-best 21.1 points per game as a junior and shot 40.5 percent from behind the arc. Furthermore, decisions by potential preseason All-Americans Jordan Taylor of Wisconsin and Tu Holloway of Xavier not to try out for the U.S. team depleted the backcourt talent available to the coaches, lowering the bar a bit for the remaining guards.
Wearing a USA jersey on his chest is the next step for Johnson in his evolution from lightly recruited college prospect to mid-major standout to NBA draft hopeful. The 6-foot-5 senior received scant attention from top programs during his days at Palma High in Seaside, Calif. but he has proven critics wrong with his improved jump shot and relentless work ethic.
"When I started college, I was just happy to have a chance to get my degree," Johnson said. "If basketball took me somewhere, then I was going to do it, but I didn't really put much thought into it. Now that I've really been putting time into my game and really working hard, I've seen I can be one of the top players. It's crazy how fast things have changed."
Johnson entered his name in the NBA draft last spring but withdrew when it became clear he would not be a first-round pick. He's focused on improving in the areas NBA scouts told him he was lacking: ball handling, mid-range shooting and perimeter defense.
The opportunity to compete against the likes of Pittsburgh's Ashton Gibbs and Vanderbilt's John Jenkins on a day-to-day basis can only help Johnson reach his goals.
"Its' definitely helping me become a better player because you're seeing top-level competition every day," he said. "If you don't bring it, you're going to be exposed. It makes you work harder and really want to compete to try to be on the same level the other guys are on."

Thursday, August 4, 2011

This is Soccer Heaven

This is another great video from Soccer Heaven.

Orlando Johnson Makes Final Cut for Team USA, Will Head to China

Roster Announced For 2011 USA Men's World University Games Team
Listed on the roster are: Tim Abromaitis (Notre Dame/Unionville, Conn.); Marcus Denmon (Missouri/Kansas City, Mo.); Ashton Gibbs (Pittsburgh/Scotch Plains, N.J.); Draymond Green (Michigan State/Saginaw, Mich.); JaMychal Green (Alabama/Montgomery, Ala.); Scoop Jardine (Syracuse/ Philadelphia, Pa.); John Jenkins (Vanderbilt/ Hendersonville, Tenn.); Orlando Johnson (UC Santa Barbara/Seaside, Calif.); Greg Mangano (Yale/Orange, Conn.); Trevor Mbakwe (Minnesota/ St. Paul, Minn.); Ray McCallum (Detroit Mercy/Beverly Hills, Mich.); and Darius Miller (Kentucky/Maysville, Ky.).

Saturday, July 16, 2011

College Basketball Predictions: Top 10 Scorers in 2011-12: Orlando Johnson

College Sports Madness Top 144 Previews

Here are previews of Big West rivals Cal Poly, SLO and Long Beach State: 
Long Beach State dominated the Big West last season, but an upset loss at the hands of UCSB in the Big West Conference Tournament left the 49ers out of the big dance and stuck in the little dance. However, the big four are back and all seniors and they will not let that happen again.

Cal Poly may give Long Beach State a run for their money, but this team is too talented to lose the Big West. With Ware, Anderson, Robinson and Phelps leading the way, it is impossible to find a more talented group of starters in the Big West.
Ummm, this should be good locker room material in the Thunderdome, and in Anaheim.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Kobe takes on teen trash-talker

Here is another video of Kobe Bryant at his basketball camp in UCSB's Thunderdome.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant basketball camps at UCSB

UCSB is a beautiful campus in a beautiful location.  It's been home to Michael Jordan's Flight School basketball camp for years.

And for the 2nd year, it is also home to Kobe Bryant's Basketball Academy.

Here is a video of former UCSB and NBA star Brian Shaw at Kobe's camp:

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Student splits $40K in winnings among runners-up

This is a feel-good story about a recruit from one UCSB's Big West Conference rival programs, CSUN.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Butte standouts moving on: Shawn Moore
Shawn Moore, a Pleasant Valley High grad, chose a different path. The reigning GVC's Most Valuable Player passed up offers from smaller schools for a chance to walk-on at UC Santa Barbara.

Moore had offers from schools such as Lewis and Clark, Pacific (Ore.) and some schools in the Midwest region and some schools back east, Butte men's basketball coach Russ Critchfield said.

The Roadrunners coach added Moore has a good chance of becoming a player for the Gauchos.
"They're going to give him a good look down there. They had an interest. They liked him on film," Critchfield said. "He's accepted, and he's going to try to take down a spot. He chose the challenge."

Of course, by walking on, Moore won't have anything handed to him.

"No guarantees," Critchfield said, "but I wouldn't bet against him."

Butte's opponents wouldn't either most likely. The nearly 6-foot-5, 210-pound player came on strong in conference play as he earned MVP honors. He led Butte, which went 9-1 in GVC play, in several categories including conference scoring.

"He was getting more aggressive on offense, looking to score," Critchfield explained. "After Christmas, we sat down and talked.  He had to step up and almost be a little more selfish."
One of the traits that the Gauchos liked about Moore is his versatility, Critchfield said. 

Moore can contribute on both ends of the floor, where he can play as both a perimeter player with a medium-range game or inside as his knack for getting rebounds and drawing contact comes in handy.  His defensive assignments were also just as varied sometimes guarding bigger players.

"He really improved as he gained more confidence," Critchfield said.