Tuesday, November 22, 2016

UCSB Gauchos vs. SMU Mustangs Game Preview, by Gaucho Dan

UCSB Gauchos vs. SMU Mustangs Men's Basketball Game Preview, by Gaucho Dan
Game Time:  Tuesday, November 22, 2016, 8 pm (Central time)
Moody Coliseum, Dallas, TX

SMU has a 3-1 record, winning home games vs. Gardner-Webb (72-44) and Eastern Michigan (91-64), and splitting two at Madison Square Garden (defeating Pittsburgh 76-67 and losing to Michigan (76-54).  SMU is ranked 30th in the DCI , 66th in the DC2 and has an RPI of 52.

The team is making 46% of its shots, including 37% from 3-point range (they attempt 19 per game).  They make 67% of their free throws, getting to the line 20.5 times per game vs. allowing 18 FT's per contest.  Opponents are shooting 40% from the field and 31% from three-point range.  The Mustangs are dominating the boards, grabbing 14.5 more rebounds per game than their opponents. 

SMU is led by Head Coach Tim Jankovich in the wake of another Larry Brown resignation. The Mustangs were banned from the NCAA tournament last season, but are eligible this season and figure to be in line for at least an at-large bid, considering the American Athletic Conference coaches picked them to finish 3rd.

6'7" junior forward Semi Ojeleye is leading the Mustangs in scoring, averaging 20.3 points per game and adding in 9 rebounds per game.  Ojeleye can hit the three-point shot (8-of-18) and gets to the free throw line and makes them (19-of-25).

6'5" sophomore guard Shake Milton was expected to be SMU's top returning player, and is contributing 12 points per game.  He likes to take the three-point shot (5 attempts per game, but has hit only 30% from downtown.  He has an excellent 3.6-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio.

6'6" senior guard Sterling Brown started the first three games and came off the bench for 32 minutes vs. Michigan.  Brown had 8 assists in the season opener and only 5 assists since, but he's averaging 10.5 points per game and has hit 5-of-10 three-pointers.

Friday, November 18, 2016

CSUB Roadrunners vs. UCSB Gauchos Game Preview, by Gaucho Freg

Game 3, CSU-Bakersfield Roadrunners vs. UC-Santa Barbara Gauchos
Saturday, November 19, 2016, 7 pm (Pacific time)
Men's Basketball game at Icardo Center

Game Preview

It will be strength vs. strength in the first matchup ever between the two schools.  Bakersfield returns last season's Second Team All-WAC senior guard Dedrick Basile and this season's leading scorer in senior guard Jaylin Airington in their backcourt.  They will be matched up with Santa Barbara's strength in senior point guard Eric Childress and junior shooting guard Gabe Vincent, both Honorable Mention All-BWC selections last season.  The team who wins this match up could very well come away with a victory.


CSU-Bakersfield, the reigning Western Athletic Conference champions, are a legitimate threat to repeat.  Basile returns, and will be looked upon to produce even more following the graduation of Aly Ahmed and Kevin Mays, the team’s top two scorers and rebounders last season.  The 5'10" Basile sent the Roadrunners to the NCAA Tournament with the game-winning bucket in the WAC tournament.  He will be the focal point of the offense this season, a year removed from averaging 12.0 points, 3.3 rebounds, and 3.7 assists per game.  The cabinet is far from bare for Rod Barnes, the head coach of the Roadrunners. Jaylin Airington and Brett Wrapp are two other starting returnees.  Airington in particular has flourished early this season, scoring a career-high 31 points in a 78-66 loss to powerhouse Arizona.  Damiyne Durham averaged 11.7 points per game off the bench last season, and made 89 3-point shots.  Matt Smith provides a presence on defense and on the glass.

The Gauchos will need to capitalize on their strength in the interior on offense, with Jalen Canty and backup Ami Lakoju manning the center spot.  Alex Hart and the committee at the power forward position will have to step up on converting on layups and cleaning the glass.  Vincent and Childress will need to knock down perimeter shots and create scoring opportunities for teammates with dribble penetration.  On defense, the 3-2 zone defense will need to close out on perimeter shooters quicker, while minimizing Bakersfield's slashers into the lane, where the defense can break down.

Game preview by Gaucho Freg

Monday, November 14, 2016

USF Dons vs. UCSB Gauchos Game Preview, by Gaucho Freg

Game 2, University of San Francisco Dons vs. UCSB Gauchos
Wednesday, November 16, 2016, 7 pm (Pacific time)
Men's Basketball game at The Thunderdome

Game Preview

After years of turnover and turmoil under Rex Walters, USF tries for a fresh start with former Columbia coach Kyle Smith.  He inherits a team whose cupboard is pretty bare after its two best returning players -- Devin Watson and Uche Ofoegbu -- opted to transfer.  The roster is filled with ten freshmen and sophomores.  Their ESPN Basketball Power Index (BPI) rating has the program down in the 300 range, worse than any Big West school, and the Dons are picked last in the West Coast Conference.  They played four games on a 10-day European summer tour which took the team to Germany, Belgium and France in early August, and won all four games against various club teams.  So they will have had a bit more opportunity to meld as a team compared to UCSB.

In their opener, the Dons defeated a University of Illinois-Chicago team 82-80 that is coming off a 5-win season.   The Dons led by as much as 17 but let UIC come all the way back to tie it at 80-all, before finishing the Flames off with a pair of free-throws freshman by Remu Raitanen.  Senior guard Ronnie Boyce led the way with 28 points and sophomore Chase Foster led with 11 rebounds. 


Boyce is the team’s leading returning scorer (11.1 ppg) and it looks like he might lead the team in that department this season.  He made three 3-pointers in the game against UIC. Sophomore Nate Renfro, a slight 6’7” wing, will also shoulder much of the scoring load and was elected team captain.  He had 12 points against UIC.

According to Coach Smith, the team doesn’t have the size to match up with the big dogs in conference but a look at their roster shows six players at 6’7” or taller, so the size is there, but perhaps not the talent.  According to the Dons message board, these younger players have looked good in the preseason:  Guards Jordan Ratinho (who was recruited by UCSB), Marquil Smith, and Charles Minland.   They are especially high on forward Matt McCarthy.  Reserve guard Mladen Djordjevic, hurt UCSB with 8 points off the bench in the Gauchos' game against the Dons last year.  Junior Chase Foster, who nabbed 11 boards against UIC, started 13 games last season and averaged 4.4 points and 1.7 rebounds


UCSB has advantages throughout the lineup but especially in size in the frontcourt.  Jalen Canty should have plenty of opportunities against his old neighbors by the Golden Gate. Ami Lakoju should also flourish in the paint.  UCSB will need to do a much better job than they did against Omaha on stopping guard penetration.  They will need to keep Boyce at bay.    Omaha is not considered a great 3-point shooting team, but they hurt UCSB from the perimeter in the season opener.  The Gaucho zone defense needs to rotate better to make sure Boyce and Renfro don’t have career games.   Shutting down Renfro on the wing will be a primary goal, and it will be interesting to see JD Slajchert and Christian Terrell take on that task.   On offense, Gabe Vincent will have to be more of a factor from the perimeter and driving the lanes.  It is a major rebuilding year for the Dons and UCSB has more pieces and continuity, which should enable the Gauchos to emerge victorious, albeit in likely another ugly early season game.

Prediction:  UCSB 68 - USF 62

Message Board:  http://donscentral.com/board/2/hilltop-hoops

Game Preview by Gaucho Freg

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

UNO vs. UCSB Men's Basketball Game Preview, by GauchoFreg

Game 1, Nebraska-Omaha Mavericks vs. UCSB Gauchos
Saturday, November 12, 2016, 2 pm (Pacific time)
Men's Basketball game at The Thunderdome

Game Preview

The Gauchos open their season with a return match against Nebraska Omaha whom they defeated with an Eric Childress buzzer-beating layup in the season opener in Nebraska last year.   That season was the first year UNO was a full-fledged D1 member eligible for all post-season tournaments and they did very well as a first year program, finishing in third place in the Summit League with an overall record of 18-14.  They played in the CBI, losing in the first round to Duquesne.  The Summit was the 11th ranked conference in RPI, just ahead of the Mountain West. For reference, the Big West was 15th.  For the 2016-17 season, the Mavericks are picked to finish 4th in the Summit.

This year’s team is headed by 12th year coach Darrin Hansen. UNO returns nine letter winners from the 2015-16 squad so has experience but did graduate their two top scorers. They are led by pre-season Summit First Teamer Senior PG Tra Deon Hollins who boasted a stat line of 12.5 points per game, 4.8 rebounds per game, 6.1 assists per game and 4 steals per game.  Yes, 4 steals per game, the highest theft rate in 16 years according to his coach.  He takes about three 3-pointers a game but only makes 28.6 percent of them.  He brings some size to the point guard position standing 6’2”, 195 lb.  At the other guard position returns 5th-year senior, two-year starter, Marcus Tyus.  Tyus averaged 13 ppg as a junior before tearing his ACL late in the season and missed all of last season while recovering from knee surgery. UNO missed his touch from long range. While the 6-foot-1 guard hit 44 % of his 3-point shots as a junior, the Mavs shot only 34 % from beyond the arc last season. 

The Mavericks return their leading rebounder, pre-season Summit honorable-mention junior PF Tre Shawn Thurman who is also the team’s leading returning scorer, averaging 13.9 ppg last year. Thurman is efficient, shooting at a 53.6% clip last year.  At 6’7”, 235lb, he’ll be a much greater physical challenge for Jalen Canty and Ami Lakoju compared to what the two faced from Fresno Pacific.   At the other forward position is 6’8”, 210lb Sophomore Mitchel Hahn who transferred in from Holy Cross. Coach Hansen is high on Hahn and expects significant contribution on the offense from him.

The Mavs have terrific depth at the guard and wing position.  In addition to Hollins and Tyus, they have a pair of 6’3” guards in JT Gibson, a freshman coming off a medical redshirt year, and Daniel Norl from Eastern Kentucky.   Two returnees, guards Zach Jackson and Kyler Erickson both have some starting experience.

Additional notes about the Mavericks:
  • UNO was 4th in the nation in both offense (ppg) and steals
  • 10th for steals and 12th for turnovers forced
  • UNO returns 45 percent of its offensive production from last season. The returners are also credited for 51 percent (581) of last season’s 1,132 rebounds.
Matchups and Prediction  It will be strength-on-strength in the backcourt with UCSB’s two Honorable Mention All-Big West players Childress and Gabe Vincent up against Hollins and Tyus.  UNO does have a significant advantage in terms of depth at the guard/wing positions and we may see a lot of turnovers by the Gauchos when Childress is on the bench.

UCSB counters with much more size and depth in the frontcourt.  If the Gauchos can get Thurman into foul trouble the Mavericks won’t be able to answer the Gauchos down low. 
It will most likely be an ugly game as many first games are.  It should be tightly contested initially, with UNO possibly getting a lead when Childress or Vincent takes a breather early on.   Gaucho depth in the front court should pay off, and they overcome a deficit to pull off a 65-61 foul-plagued, turnover-filled affair.


UNO Season Previews 

Game preview by GauchoFreg, with contributions by GauchoDan

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Omaha Picked Fourth in Preseason League Poll

The UCSB Gauchos men's basketball team plays next Saturday at the Thunderdome against the University of Nebraska-Omaha.  The Mavericks are predicted to finish fourth in the Summit League.


Four Players Hit Double-Digits as Gauchos Handle CSLA 90-53 in Season-Opening Exhibition


Gauchos Roll Past Fresno Pacific in Exhibition Game, 82-62


Box Score


UCSB vs. Fresno Pacific Game Preview

UCSB vs. Fresno Pacific Game Preview, by GauchoFreg

Exhibition Game, Sunday, November 6, 2016, 1 pm (Pacific time), The Thunderdome
Opponent:  Fresno Pacific University Sunbirds (Division 2)

The UCSB men's basketball season kicks off tomorrow!

The Gauchos start things off with an exhibition against Fresno Pacific of the Pacific West Conference.  The Sunbirds last season sported an overall record of 14-13 and a 9thplace finish in conference.

A longtime NAIA program, they moved to D2 in 2012.  The Sunbirds will have a new coach and a roster heavy with upperclassmen and transfers, returning just two of their five starters.

Their leading returner is 6’5” redshirt senior guard Spencer Krannitz.  Krannitz let the team in rebounding, steals and minutes played; was second in scoring and three-pointers last season (a .410 clip) and third in assists.

Point guard TJ Vinney started about half the games last season, stands at just 5’9” and led the team in assists while adding 6 points per game (ppg).

The other point guard, senior Suhail Mohammadi, also logged a lot of minutes last season and will likely be on the court a fair bit.

At center, senior Oliver Herting who averaged about 6 ppg and 3 rebounds per game in 12 minutes of play.  At 6’7” and 235 pounds, he is the biggest player on the roster.

Like many D2 programs, Fresno Pacific is relies heavily on transfers.

For UCSB, a most interesting aspect will be how JD Slajchert and Christian Terrell handle the toughest defensive assignment on Krannitz, although we may see Gabe Vincent guard him as well.

The Sunbirds are undersized, so Jalen Canty and the rest of UCSB's front court should have advantages down low.

It’s an exhibition so UCSB Head Coach Bob Williams will be experimenting with lineups, and the result and margin are meaningless.  UCSB’s starters should have clear advantages at four of the five positions.  Krannitz’s experience as a 5th year senior may give him an advantage over the UCSB wings.

The Sunbirds will also play UCR, another Big West Conference rival.

According to GauchoDan, Fresno Pacific is picked to finish 11th in the Pacific West this season.