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.