Saturday, December 16, 2017

UCSB vs. USC Men's Basketball Game Preview, by Gaucho Freg

UCSB @ USC Preview

Sunday, December 17, 2017, 5:00 PST

By the Numbers;
USC Rankings:                                                                 UCSB Rankings:
DC2: 61                                                                             DC2:  79
RPI:  77, RPI SOS:  58                                                      RPI:  32, RPI SOS:  149
Pomeroy:  28                                                                     Pomeroy:  139

The Gauchos travel down the smoky 101 to take on the uber talented & athletic USC Trojans which started the season ranked as high as #10 in some polls but now are unranked at 5-3.  USC easily handled Santa Clara Thursday night in the Galen Center leading by about 20 most of the game and winning 82-59.  The Trojans are considered a disappointment so far and as they were picked #10, I suppose that is reasonable.  Still, their three losses are to teams all ranked in the top 30 Pomeroy; Texas A&M, SMU and Oklahoma.

Shared Opponents:  UCSB defeated N. Dakota State in their home & season opener by 19.  Two nights later the Jackrabbits gave the Trojans a scare in LA, leading by as much as 10 before foul trouble led to an end-of-game surge by SC and the Trojans won by 10.   Both teams lost handily to Texas A&M, the Gauchos by 19 on the road, USC by 16 in the Galen Center.

The Arena:  The Galen Center opened in 2006, seats 10,258.  They are averaging about 3900 fans per game this season.  From all I’ve heard, it’s a beautiful arena and I’m looking forward to my first visit there. 

Stats Overview:
Despite their three losses, when the Trojans win, they have so decisively.  They are scoring at 77 pt clip while holding their opponents to 69.  They are shooting at a .432 clip, .369 from three.  They attempt 22.4 three pointers per game, a bit surprising to me given the strength of their front court.  UCSB attempts about 20 per game.  This will be their 6th home game, they are 4-1 at home.

Contributing to their relatively poor start is the absence of Sophomore SG De’Anthony Melton who is being forced to sit by the USC admin while they investigate a possible improper payment.  Also absent is sophomore guard Derryck Thornton who has been injured.  I’m not sure of the status of either player for Sunday but they are both impact players so UCSB catches a break if they are not available.

USC’s has some fantastic talent across the roster but the cream of the crop is projected first round draft pick 6’11” F/C Chimezi Mehtu who leads the team in scoring with 16.1ppg and in rebounding 8.5 pg.  He has terrific quicks for a big and will be a great challenge for Canty and Ami to defend.
At the other forward spot is another talented player in 6’10”  Bennie Boatwright who is averaging 15.5 and 8.3.  At times he has been a major star and carried the Trojans through SC’s terrific 26 win season last year.  At times he’s been pretty quiet.  He is similar to King, can rebound well and shoot the three, but not as well, .313
PG Jordan McGlauglin (6’1” 185 lb) has been a stud for the Trojans this year, shooting lights out from both within and beyond the arc while leading the team with 6.8 apg and pulling 4.3 boards per game.  He’ll be a handful and I’m hoping that our defense can step up the same way it did against USD’s Isiah Wright
Senior Guard/wing Elijah Stewart, 6’5” 195 lb is a three point threat, shooting 17-40.
Another Sophomore Guard Jonah Mathews (6’3” 195) contributes a solid 8.4 ppg, 3.6 rpg and shoots .407 from three. There’s no weak link in their starting line-up.

Key Reserves
6’11” Sophomore F/C Nick Racocevic is a terrific player that would be starting on most D1 teams.  USC just happens to have Mehtu in front of him.  He’s tough and the depth he gives USC in the front court will make things tough for our bigs.
6’7”  RS Jr Wing Shaqquan Aaron seems to be a role player and plays significant minutes.

Match-up, prediction:  USC played terrific in their win over Santa Clara and may be finding their stride.  Pasternack and his staff have impressed me in their ability to prepare for different teams so I give the Gauchos much more of a chance than I would have thought at the season start.  Much depends upon the health of Jackson, if his hip is less bothersome and he can limit the impact of Mclaughlin, that will certainly help.  Regardless, I have a lot of faith in the Gaucho starters and if the refs don’t take our bigs out of the game, I think this game remains close til late.  I do think the depth of the SC front court will take its toll and the Trojans will pull away in the end.  USC 77 UCSB 72.  Prove me wrong Gauchos!

USC Fun Fact:   USC has played in two Final Fours, 1940 and 1954 

Official Site:
Hey Guys! (with my preview of UCSB):
How to Watch:   For you So Cal locals, get to the Galen Center and watch it in person!  For the rest of you, Pac 12 Network

Gauchos Travel to No. 17 Oregon State Saturday and LMU on Monday

Friday, December 8, 2017

UCSB vs. Montana State Game Preview, by Gaucho Freg

Montana State Preview

Saturday, December 9, 2017, 1:00 PST

By the Numbers;
MSU Rankings:                                                                 UCSB Rankings:
DC2:  159                                                                           DC2:  106
RPI:  77, RPI SOS:  74                                                       RPI:  44, RPI SOS:  156
Pomeroy:  185                                                                    Pomeroy:  164

The Gauchos go back on the road to face a Montana State Bobcats team that might be a little angry after getting walloped by Central Michigan earlier this week.  The Bobcats have been road warriors and this will be their first home game against a D1 program.  Their home is the Brick Breeden Arena, originally opened in 1957, seats 8455, renovated twice (1993, 2013).  They’ve averaged about 2400 a game but expect more Saturday as their other home games were against lower division teams.  Of consideration, the arena is located at an elevation of ~ 4900 feet so altitude could play a factor for our team not accustomed to it.

The Bobcats have played a more difficult schedule than the Gauchos losing on the road to Louisiana Tech, Utah State and Fresno State.  The teams have one shared opponent in Nebraska Omaha with both coming out victorious, the Bobcats winning by 9 in their opening game which was on a “neutral” (in Great Falls, MT) court.  They will be the second out of three Big Sky opponents for the Gauchos this season with the Gauchos defeating Montana and yet to play Sac State. The Bobcats were picked fourth in the Big Sky, just behind Montana.  UCSB and Montana State have played 10 times in a series that began in 1972. The Gauchos hold a 9-1 all-time edge. The teams last met on Dec. 12, 2009 with the Bobcats recording a 76-64 victory in Bozeman. The last time Santa Barbara won a game in the series was on February 21, 2009, when it won a 78-72 overtime in SB.

Looking at their season stats, which are skewed by their stinker of a game against CMU, the Bobcats are scoring 77ppg and giving up 75 ppg.   They attempt about 21 3pt shots per game and make them at a .381 clip which includes their 1-16 performance against the Chippewas.  They force about 13 turnovers per game. 

The Bobcats have a star player who deserves the focus of the Gaucho defense.  Junior wing Tyler Hall (6’5”, 210) is the pre-season Big Sky MVP and was shut down by CMU, scoring zero points in just 11 minutes of play.  On their message board, the fans said he might be nursing an ankle injury which would explain that performance.  Still, he is scoring about 19 ppg, takes a lot a of threes, about 8 attempts per game and makes them at a .432 clip.  He only attempts a couple fts per game but is shooting .913 from the line. 

Running the point is sophomore Harald Frey (6’1”, 180 lb) from Norway.   He is second on the team in scoring with 14.3 ppg and leads the team in assists with 3.2.  He takes five three pointers a game and is making them at a .400 clip.
RS Junior Forward Keljin Belvins who transferred from S. Mississippi (6’6”, 200 lb) is third in scoring with 8.9 and second in rebounding, 4.7 pg.
These three are the only players to average more than 25 minutes.
Senior reserve forward Konner Frey (6’6”, 200 lb), no relation to Harald, leads the team in rebounds with 5.3 pg in only 17 minutes of play.
Juniors Devonte Kline, a 6’0” guard and Sam Neuman, a 6’7” forward have started most of the games.

Match-up, prediction:  Since opening with an easy win over NDSU, the rest of our games have been close, Texas A&M excepted.  Despite our 7-2 record, we are only outscoring our opponents for the season by about 3.  I think this game hinges upon the health of Tyler Hall.  If he is 100%, it seems that he is the kind of player that can keep his team in the game no matter what.  If he is injured and is unable to perform, then the Gauchos should end up winning comfortably.
I’ll go with that Hall is healthy and while I penciled this game as a loss before the season started, with the way the Gauchos are playing now, I predict the Gauchos end up in another battle but are able to once again come out on top.  UCSB 78 MSU 74

Montana State Fun Fact:  Their 1928-29 men’s team won the mythical National Championship as awarded by both the Helms Foundation and the Premo-Porretta Power Poll.  These two groups bestowed national titles retrospectively to whom they deemed to be the best teams in the years before the NCAA tournament got started. 

Official Site:
Hey Guys! (with my preview of UCSB):
How to Watch: ... igSky.aspx

Monday, December 4, 2017

UNO vs. UCSB Game Preview, by Gaucho Freg

Nebraska-Omaha Preview
Tuesday, December 5, 2017, 7:00 PST
The Gauchos welcome the road weary Mavericks to the Campus Events Center Tuesday night, in the third straight year these two teams have met.  In 2015, the Gauchos spoiled the opener of Omaha’s new arena in on a last second bucket by Eric Childress and in 2016 Omaha returned the favor on the Gauchos home court, easily defeating the young Gauchos. The Mavericks  are coming off 12 point loss to the Washington Huskies, their 8th defeat of the season vs only one victory.  They have played a difficult schedule, ranked 94th in the country and with only one home game.  They’ve been handled fairly easily by the P5 schools and have been competitive with the low to mid-majors.

Looking at their season stats, the Mavericks are giving up a whopping 89.6 ppg and allowing about a .500 shooting % so our prolific Gauchos should have no trouble scoring on them.  They are scoring 76.7 ppg including a respectable .367 from three.  They take about five more shots from beyond the arc than the Gauchos ~25 vs. ~20.  Similar to the Gauchos, they have balanced scoring with 4 players in double figures plus two more just under 10.  They don’t rebound particularly well, outboarded by about 6 pg.

Individually, the Mavs are lead by Junior wing Zach Jackson (6’5”, 185) with 17.6 ppg, shooting .441 from three, adding 5 rpg and 10 steals. He gets to the line the most on the team with 49 attempts, .755 on the makes.  For comparison, Max has 67 attempts in one less game.  Jackson scored his then career high 14 points on the Gauchos last year while adding 8 boards.
Senior guard Daniel Norl (6’3”, 200lb) is second in scoring with 13.1 ppg, shooting threes at a .333 clip and pulls down 5.2 rpg.
Junior Forward Mitch Hahn (6’8”, 210lb) missed has four games but started the five he’s played in.  He leads the team in rebounding at 6.2 pg.  Jacks up a fair # of threes but only makes .273 of them. Overall he is scoring 12ppg.  Last year, he scored 15 on five three pointers against us.
Sophomore PG KJ Robinson (6’0”, 190lb) leads the team in assists with 4 pg and adds 10.9ppg.  He is the team’s best 3 point shooter making 20-42, .476
Sophomore guard JT Gibson (6’3”, 195lb) comes off the bench but plays starter minutes at 27mpg.  He scores 8.7ppg and is not shooting well from three, .289
Senior PF Lamar Wofford-Humphrey (6’9”, 225lb) started in Hahn’s place when he was out and scores at a 8.4 ppg clip.  He is second on the team in rebounds with 5.3 per.
Senior PF Daniel Meyer (6’9”, 250lb)  has started every game but plays reserve minutes at less than 14 per game.

Match-up, prediction:  If the Gauchos manage to bring the same motivation & intensity they have been, they will win this handily by around 15.  That being said, this could be a trap game, Omaha might be better than their record and its tough to bring it every game.  I think it will be closer than it should.  UCSB 87 Omaha 81

Official Site
Hey Guys! (another dead board):
How to Watch