Friday, February 2, 2018

CSUN vs. UCSB Game Preview, Gaucho Freg

UCSB vs CSUN Preview
Saturday, February 3, 2018, 7:00pm PST

UCSB, 6-2 and tied for first place in the Big West with UC Davis try to avoid a serious TRAP game against the improving CSUN Matadors.  CSUN came into conference play one of the very worst teams in the country has been much more competitive in the BW registering wins against Poly and UCR and has been competitive in their losses against the upper half of the conference.  This will be the first game of the season between the two teams.

By the Numbers                                                              
OOC Record, all games 5-17 17-5
BWC Record 2-6 6-2
Home/away vs D1 1-9 (away) 10-0 (home)
National Team Rankings

Composite (DC2, RPI, Pomeroy,
Massey, Sagarin)
333 101
DC2 332 102
RPI 346 74
Pomeroy 329 103
Massey 329 87
Sagarin 331 138
RPI SOS 336 269
Preseason Poll Pick 7th 6th
Efficiency Rankings (Pomeroy)

Offense 338 49
Defense 263 217
Scoring (conference only) 65.1 (60.8) 77.6 (75.4)
Defense (conference only) 70.0 (65.4) 70.5 (69.0)
Best win: UCR (away, 301 DC2)
Worst Loss: Sac State (away, 281 DC2)
Trend:  After going 0-11 against D1 competition to open the season, the Matadors finally got a win against Morgan State.  After getting walloped by 19 at home by Hawaii to open BW play, the Matadors have been competitive in every game since, including two wins against fellow bottom feeders.  In their last game out, the ‘Dors played first place Davis tough in Davis, leading by double digits early and were within three under two minutes left before falling 63-56.

Head Coach:
Reggie Theus is in his 5th season at the helm of the Matadors and has yet to have a winning season.  His record stands at 52-150 overall and 25-47 in BW play with a best finish of 5th place.   Compared to his predecessor Bobby Brasswell, his hire has been a total disaster.  He did coach New Mexico State for two seasons and had some success there, going 25-9 in his second season and a trip to the NCAA tournament and parlayed that to a short gig as the head coach of the NBA’s Sacramento Kings.

Relatively older roster with three seniors starting. Like Santa Barbara, lack a lot of scoring punch off the bench.

Guard Terrell Gomez 5’8” 160lbs, Freshman.   Go ahead and break out with the Webster chants but Gomez is the leading BW FOY candidate.  Leads the team in assists (second in the conference), minutes played, third in scoring and is the best three point shooter on the team, .465 from beyond the arc.
Guard Lyrik Shreiner  6’3”, 190lb, RS Sophomore transfer from TCU. Scoring about 8ppg and pulling about 4 boards per game.  Turns the ball over a lot.
Wing Michael Warren  6’5”, 180 lb, Senior.  Second on team in scoring with 13.6 ppg, shoots the three well, .386 %.  Is second to Dawson in rebounding as well with 6.1 boards per game and plays 31 mpg.  Gets to the line frequently, 3.5 attempts per game.
Forward Tavrion Dawson  6’8”, 202lb, Senior Leads team in scoring (16.1 ppg), rebounding (6.7 rpg)  and FT attempts (3.6 per game) while averaging ~32mpg. Attempts 3.5 threes per game while making ~ 31% of them.  Turns the ball over 2.5 per game.
F Reggie Theus Jr.  6’6”, 217 lb, RS Senior.  Scoring about 6ppg

Key Reserves:
G Jonathan Guevara 6’1”, 165 lb.  Junior plays 14mpg
C Mahamadou Kaba-Camara  7’0”, 273 lb.  Sophomore provides size of the bench and pulls down a couple boards per game in about 11 minutes of play.
F Anthony Swan  6’7”, 196 lb RS Junior transfer from George Washington averages about 10 mpg.

View from a Matador Fan: With thanks and credit to parkj19.
CSUN comes into this game with UCSB having their worst season in many, many years, ranked last in RPI among all 351 Division 1 teams in the NCAA only a few weeks ago, now barely higher at 347 (before Thursday’s Davis game), having beaten struggling teams such as Riverside (by 9 at UCR) and Cal Poly (by 18 at home) in two of their last five games, while playing Davis tough on the road and at home (losing by 7 in a game they were only down by 3 with under two minutes to go on the road; and losing again by 7 but down by only a point or two with a few minutes to go in their recent game at home), and losing to Long Beach at home (by 4 points, and down by only 2 points with less than 10 seconds left in the game, before a desperation foul, and 2 FTs converted by Gabe Levin). The Matadors have not been a good road team during Reggie Theus’ term, having gone 4-12 and 4-8 the last two years, and are currently 1-9 on the road this year (that lone road victory being their recent win against UCR).

CSUN has played UCSB even the last four years (4-4, two of those wins against unquestionably the worst, most snake-bitten, UCSB team in a long time) The Matadors have surprisingly won 3 of the last four games the teams have played in Santa Barbara (even winning there, in overtime, against the 2013-14 UCSB team that featured Alan Williams, Michael Bryson and Eric Childress, a team that went 12-4 in the BW that year…yes, they all played, Williams scoring 22 points). I know these are sore points for UCSB  basketball, and will not be forgotten in the game Saturday.

The Matadors’ strengths are their two veteran players, Tavrion Dawson and Micheal Warren, who can both drive well to the basket or hit the three point shot, and freshman Terrell Gomez. CSUN three point shooting has been developing into a strength this year (something they have not been good at for awhile, with the exception of Josh Greene as well as Stephan Hicks in his senior year). Three Matadors are currently shooting near or better than 40% of their 3s (PG Gomez, runner up in the BW at 47%, freshman Jalon Pipkins at 42% and Warren at 38%, while Dawson and Jonathan Guevara are shooting 33%), and the Matadors 37% shooting is second in the BW to UCSB’s 38%. 
The Matadors have been a poor defender of the 3 point shot under Theus, but this year they are holding opponents to 33.8%, the best year under Theus, down from nearly 39% the last two years. Matador defense in general has been poor under Theus, the last few years especially, but seems to be improving a bit this year….despite the Matadors really not having a true post player and few big men on the team who play regularly. 
Sophomore Mamadou Kaba-Camara, at 7 feet, has potential to be a good player someday (he is from Guinea, and has not played organized basketball for as long as most American college players, but is tall, quick, and smart… a Dean’s list student who speaks several languages). PG Gomez is probably the leading candidate for BW FOY; he is extremely fast, a very good shooter, and controls the ball well. Dawson can do it all offensively, as can Warren…they are also the team’s leading rebounders. Guard Lyrik Shreiner can explode for double digit points, as he has done numerous times this season; he’s capable of a 20 point game. Reggie Theus, Jr. has developed his game this season (driving to the basket and short jumpers) and can also hit double digits (he’s averaging 5.5); Zeno Lake is a good rebounder and a threat around the basket offensively.
The Matadors will have a tough time with the Gauchos, who seem to be, from my limited viewing of them this season, a very balanced team offensively, who can beat you from inside or outside. One thing you can count on, the Matadors will fight hard to the end….I would characterize this team as “scrappy.” 

Match-up & prediction:
By the computer rankings, this game should be a 20+ point blow-out in UCSB’s favor.  CSUN’s offensive and defensive efficiency ratings are bottom of the barrel and UCSB should have no trouble scoring on them.  Even the often lackluster Gaucho defense may be fine against an offense that has really struggled and is scoring only 60 per game in conference.  But UCSB is coming off an emotional OT win against a very tough opponent in Hawaii and the starters played heavy minutes.  Although CSUN has been losing all year, they’ve been very competitive in games with the top teams.  This is an easy game to overlook  and JP will need to dig deep into his motivational playbook to make sure his guys come out with the necessary intensity. 
Keys for the Gauchos:
1)    Stop Gomez, perhaps double him up on the perimeter.  He is a Dominic Fields type player and we saw what happened when a quick guard put an unequal team on his back against us.
2)    Get physical with Dawson. Canty is so much bigger, should be able to have his way down low and hopefully get Dawson into foul trouble. 
3)    Get the lead, get the starters some rest.  Plenty of minutes for Ami, CT and JB, but would be nice to go deeper into the bench and keep the team rested. 
4)    Gabe’s Dad says, “DEFENSE!   Defense Gauchos, DEFENSE!!!”

This game could be a blow-out or could be uncomfortably close if they come out flat.  I’m going with the Gauchos by about a dozen, I think we’re going to be a little flat and CSUN will be hungry after coming close against Davis.  UCSB 79 CSUN 66

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