Thursday, November 29, 2018

Winners of 4 Straight, Gauchos Host Sac State Thursday Night
Amadou Sow (Photo by Tony Mastres)

Let's Pack the Dome

Sac St. vs. UCSB Game Preview, by Gaucho Freg

Game 7
UCSB vs. Sacramento State Preview
Thursday, November 29, 2018, 7pm PST
The Gauchos take on their fourth consecutive Big Sky opponent in Sacramento State, in a return game of UCSB’s  82-72 victory over the Hornets in Sacramento last season. As in the first three Big Sky opponents, the Hornets are pegged to finish in the bottom half of the conference (7th -10th), coming off a 11th place finish with a 7-25 overall record.  Note that UCSB will play yet another Big Sky member, Idaho State, making it five opponents from a single conference, which may be a record.  The Hornets have only played BW opponents thus far this season (D1 only) and bring an unblemished 2-0 record with wins over Davis & Fullerton.  Their third D1 & BW game, against Poly, was postponed due to the fires.  Best news is that Max has been cleared to practice this week and we will likely see him on the court in this game, if only for limited pt.

By the Numbers                                                             
  Sac. State UCSB
Record (D1 only) 2-0 4-1
Home/Away vs D1 0-0 (A) 1-0 (H)
 National Rankings
Composite 292 173
DCI (2) 255 168
RPI 156 204
Pomeroy 228 170
Massey 203 123
Sagarin 227 168
ESPN BPI 257 148
SOS 333 264
CBS Preseason Rank 197 203
SI Preseason Rank 302 185
Preseason Poll Pick 7th -10th 1st – 6th
Efficiency Rankings (Pomeroy)    
Offense 282 158
Defense 169 192
Scoring 73.7 79.0
PPG Allowed 63.0 62.2

Sac St:
Best win:  CS Fullerton
Worst Loss:  None

Sac St-UCSB History
UCSB All-time record vs. Hornets:  4-1
Last game (2017):  UCSB 82-72, in Sacramento

Head Coach:
Longtime Coach Brain Katz enters his 11th season as the winningest coach in Hornet history but is saddled with an overall record of 107-193 (.357) that would have most coaches fired.  He has had one winning season.

The Hornets suffered a lot of injuries last season, especially in their backcourt, and return most of their production from last season.  They did lose their best player, Justin Strings, to graduation.  Senior PG Marcus Graves provides the Hornets buzz and is averaging nearly a triple double.  The Hornets have five guys scoring 8ppg or more so, with two of those players coming off the bench so they have good balance but only 8 players are playing regular minutes so are a bit limited in depth.
Possible Starters
Guard- Marcus Graves  #0 6’0”, 188 lb, Senior 15 ppg, 9.3 rpg, 9 apg, 3.3 spg.  Some pretty eye-popping stats with averaging 9 assists & 9 rebounds, especially for a player just 6 feet tall.  Is shooting a lowly fg % and is turning the ball over 5 times per game though.  Missed last season due to injury but averaged ~14ppg and 5.3 apg the year before. 
Guard- Izayah Mauriohooho-Le'afa  #2  6’2”, 200lb, Junior- 8ppg  Second leading returning scorer and tops in assists from last year.
Wing Osi Nwachukwu  #21  6’5”, 195 lb, JC Transfer Junior 8.3 ppg, second on the team in assists.

Forward Joshua Patton  #30  6’8”, 225 lb, 12 ppg, 6.3 rbg  Junior  Leading returning scorer & rebounder from last year.  15 against UCSB last year.

F/C Calvin Martin  #25  6’6”, 235 lb, 5 rbg  Senior

Posssible Key Reserves
Forward  Ethan Esposito   #22  6’7”, 220 lb, JC Transfer Sophomore 15 ppg,  7.3 rpg.   Transfer from San Diego has had a remarkable start to his D1 career, tied for the team lead in scoring and second in rebounding.  Has been coming off the bench but his stats scream starter.
Wing Bryce Fowler  #23  6’6”, 195 lb, Sophomore  8.7 ppg, 4 rpg.  Shot 40% from three last season

Match-up overview:  With victories over two of the BW teams expected to contend for the conference title, the Hornets present a much tougher challenge than thought before the season had started and will be the toughest opponent, at least on paper, the Gauchos will have faced thus far.  There is the caveat that both games were extremely close, by 3 over a struggling Davis program and in OT vs. Fullerton.  Hornet point guard Marcus Graves is averaging nearly a triple double (points, rebounds, assists) and it will be interesting to see if the Gauchos improved defense can disrupt his playmaking talents.   Statistically speaking, UCSB has advantages in FG%, FG% defense, rebounding margin and offensive efficiency.  Will be nice to see Max on the floor, should JP choose to play, him but I would not expect major minutes yet in any case.

Keys to the game for the Gauchos:  Depth and pressure defense.  Sac St is averaging 17 turnovers per game (vs 12 for UCSB).  When Fullerton stormed back from an 18 point deficit they did so largely off of creating 20 turnovers.  While creating turnovers is not a strength for the Gauchos (only 10 per game) utilizing their athleticism and disrupting Graves and his ability to create for his team is key.  Continued contributions going down the bench for the Gauchos to leverage the team’s advantage in depth.

Prediction:  First road game for the Hornets results in their first loss of the season.  Gauchos continue their dominance at home and win, 77-69

Official Site
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How to Watch:

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Fun facts about Sac State:
Their football team earned wins over Pac 12 teams in 2011 & 2012, Oregon St & Colorado, respectively.

Saturday, November 24, 2018

UCSB vs. Idaho Game Day

UCSB vs. Idaho Game Preview, by Gaucho Freg

Game 6
UCSB vs. Idaho (in Boise) Preview
Saturday, November 24, 2018, 7PM PST (after first game is complete)
The Idaho Vandals will be the second consecutive team in full blown rebuilding mode the Gauchos will face.  They return one starter and no other player that made significant contribution last season.  Like the Vikings, the Vandals had a good year last season getting 22 wins before being upset by Southern Utah in the first round of the Big Sky tournament.

By the Numbers                                                              
  Idaho UCSB
Record (D1 only) 0-2 3-1
Neutral vs D1 0-0 1-0
 National Rankings
Composite 292 173
DCI (2) 332 197
RPI 331 192
Pomeroy 268 173
Massey 224 139
Sagarin 281 184
ESPN BPI 318 154
SOS 304 274
CBS Preseason Rank 220 203
SI Preseason Rank 132 185
Preseason Poll Pick 9th -10th 1st – 6th
Efficiency Rankings (Pomeroy)    
Offense 219 154
Defense 303 210
Scoring 84.0 79.0
PPG Allowed 69.7 62.2
Best win:  none
Worst Loss: D2 Nazarene

Idaho-UCSB History
UCSB All-time record vs. Vandals:  10-8
Last game (2012):  Idaho 86-83, in Moscow (CIT)
The Arena:  While technically a neutral site, Century Link Arena in downtown Boise will serve as a defacto home site for Idaho.  Built in 1997, it seats 5,732 for basketball. Its main occupant is the local minor league hockey team.  It will host the Big Sky hoops tournament this year, which may explain why Portland State and Idaho are interested in playing UCSB at this site while taking on a lower division school in their other game.

Head Coach:
Longtime Coach Don Verlin has the most wins in Idaho history, leading the team since 2008.  Before Idaho, he was a longtime assistant under Stew Morrill at Utah State and Colorado State.  He has an overall record of 172-149.  He has never won a conference title and the 2nd place finish last year was his best ever.
The Vandals graduated 6 seniors, four of whom were starters. With so much turnover, very difficult for me as an outsider to take a stab so here’s a guess from a Vandal fan back in October, his comments in italics:
Probable Starters 
G  Cameron Tyson #5  6’3”, 185  Freshman 20ppg, shooting a remarkable 21/36 from three. 
G- Trevon Allen   #25  6’2”, 180lb, Junior  12.5 ppg, 3.2 apg.  The unquestioned leader of the team with Sherwood out. Pretty scary when your most experienced player has one career start. The encouraging part is he scored 25 and went 14-14 from the FT line in a win over the top team in the conference in that one start. Trevon always seems to play better when he's asked to step up and play bigger minutes (see last year against Montana as another example). As Trevon goes, so will go the team go.”
G  Geno West #13  6’2”, 160  Sophomore 7.3ppg.  Starting in place of injured guard Marquell Fraser.  Again, not a whole lot of playing time, but he's one of 4 guards on the roster with a number higher than zero in that category at the D-I level. I believe West is going to emerge as a leader on this team sooner rather than later. The kid has a lot of confidence.
F- Scott Blakney  #34  11.8 ppg, 6.8 rpg.  He didn't play a whole lot of minutes as a freshman, but he is the only guy on the team taller than 6'4" with ANY Division I playing time on his resume. I've been high on him since the day he committed. I think he's got all the tools to be a star. He'll definitely get his chance to show if he's on that road.
F- Jarod Rodriguez  #20 10.5 ppg, 6.0 rpg  RS Freshman Coach says he had a fantastic RS year and offseason in the weight room. We know he's extremely agile and athletic, we know he has some solid face-up shooting ability.
Key Reserves
G- Marquell Fraser #15- I know there was a rumor of him having some injury concerns, but I haven't seen any evidence of it yet so I'm assuming he will play. Tough kid, I think he'll set the tone much the same way BJ Blake did. Shot 57% last year in JC, which is ridiculously high for a guard. Not quite as much length as Jordan Scott had, but he's a little more athletic and plays with attitude. If Fraser is indeed out for a time I think we'll see Cameron Tyson or Xavier Smith fill this spot. Garvin may even see some time here if he can show he's willing and able to be a bulldog on defense the way Chad Sherwood did as a junior and senior.   
We'll see Losini Kamara #3 (Freshman Guard, 6’3”, 180)  start to get his feet wet, and we will see some of Xavier Smith #11 (Sophomore Guard, 6’4”, 180)   We have to hope Cassius Smits-Francisco #31 (Freshman Forward, 6’9”, 230)  is fully healthy and ready to battle, and if Tomas Domingos (Sophomore Center, 7’0”, 240)  can't go the loss of Sherwood may necessitate Khadim Samb #24 (Wing, 6’6”, 180) playing as a freshman as well, although Samb isn't a true frontcourt player. I think Coach will do everything he can to RS Ray Mitchell, who just turned 18 a couple months ago.
I don't think I've ever seen a team at Idaho with so little experience. There's a lot of talent there, but wow. I imagine we'll see a ton of different combinations in the first several games of the season as coach tries to figure out what will work.”
Match-up overview:
Even without Terrell (strep) and Max H (concussion) UCSB should match up well against a team of mostly freshmen that is winless against D1. Only thing working against the Gauchos is that this is essentially a home game for Idaho. Would be nice to see Sow bounce back. 
Keys to the game for the Gauchos:   If UCSB does not overlook the Vandals and plays their brand of defense, they will be fine. 

Prediction:  Gauchos should roll against the inexperienced Vandals and extend their win streak to four, UCSB 82  Idaho 61

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Wednesday, November 21, 2018

UCSB Travels to Boise for Vandal Holiday Hoops Showcase Friday, Saturday

UCSB vs. Portland State Game Preview, by Gaucho Freg

Game 5
UCSB vs. Portland State (in Boise) Preview
Friday, November 23, 2018, 4PM PST

The Gauchos and the Vikings will attempt to shake off their Thanksgiving dinner sluggishness and get back to basketball on Friday.  The Vikings are coming off a successful season in which they went 20-14 including a sweep of the Bay Area Pac 12 teams and had close losses to Butler & Oregon.  However they lose a lot from that team and this will likely be a transitional season.  They were walloped at nationally ranked Oregon to open the season and struggled to beat UC Riverside in their home opener which also served to christen their brand new arena.

By the Numbers                                                              
Portland St. UCSB
Record (D1 only) 1-1 2-1
Neutral vs D1 0-0 0-0
 National Rankings
Composite 224 195
DCI (2) 282 220
RPI 222 273
Pomeroy 242 181
Massey 179 138
Sagarin 222 198
ESPN BPI 196 157
SOS 270 265
CBS Preseason Rank 213 203
SI Preseason Rank 202 289
Preseason Poll Pick 5th -8th 1st – 6th
Efficiency Rankings (Pomeroy)
Offense 225 148
Defense 264 232
Scoring 84.0 79.0
PPG Allowed 69.7 62.2

Portland State:
Best win:  UC Riverside
Worst Loss:   Oregon

Portland St.-UCSB History
UCSB All-time record vs. Vikings:  5-2
Last game (1981):  UCSB 90-79, in SB

The Arena:  While the Vikings get to play their home games in a brand new arena this season, the two teams will play this game at neutral site Century Link Arena in downtown Boise.  Built in 1997, it seats 5,732 for basketball. Its main occupant is the local minor league hockey team.  It will host the Big Sky hoops tournament this year, which may explain why Portland State and Idaho are interested in playing UCSB at this site while taking on a lower division school in their respective other game.

Head Coach:
Second year Coach Barrett Peery did a great job in his first season, taking the Vikings to their first 20 win season in 10 years while not playing a single home game on campus as their new arena was being built.  They played 21 games on the road, finishing 10-6, their best road record ever.  Before joining the Vikings, he was Assc. HC at Santa Clara and was an extremely successful HC of two JCs, including College of Southern Idaho (Armond Davis, Roberto Gittens)
Tasked with a major rebuild after graduating the majority of his team’s production from last season, Coach Peery dipped into a well he is familiar with, Junior Colleges.  Given his success at that level (178-30), he might just be uniquely positioned to succeed with that type of player.  He will count on returning starter, Sophomore PG Holland Woods who led the Big Sky in assists and was named FOY.
Possible Starters
PG Holland Woods   #3  6’0”, 170 lb, Sophomore, 14.3 ppg, 2.3 rbp, 4.3 apg, 3.0 spg.  Leads the team in getting to the line, 10/14.
Guard Derek Brown  #0  6’0”, 180 lb, Senior, 8.3 ppg, 5.7 rbp, 4.3 apg, 3.0 spg. 
Forward Jaime Orme  #13   6’7”, 200 lb, Senior Junior 13.7 ppg, 7 rbg.  Has more than doubled his scoring and rebounding from last year. 
Forward Robert McCoy #10   6’7”, 195 lb, JC transfer Junior   7.7 ppg, 6.3 rpg  Southern California Junior College Player of the Year as a sophomore, Conference MVP, 16.8 points, 7.4 rebounds, had 59 steals and 58 blocked shots… shot .499 from the floor, .341 from three-point range and .714 at the line
F/C Brendan Rummel #4  6’10”, 240 lb, Sophomore, 8.7 ppg, 2.7 rpg.  Injured after 8 games his freshman year. 

Possible Key Reserves:
Guard Michael Nuga #1  6’2”, 180 lb, Junior,  11.3 ppg, shooting .455 from three.
Guard Deante Strickland #11 5’10”, 180 lb, Senior, Shooting only 3-17 from three
Guard Juwan Williams  #22   6’5”, 215 lb, JC transfer Junior   6.7 ppg, 3 rpg 
Forward Sal Nuhu  #10   6’8”, 215 lb, JC transfer Junior   7.0 ppg, 3 rpg 
Forward Rashad Goolsby  #23  6’7”, 200 lb, JC transfer Junior Arizona CC POY in 2017-18, First team NJCAA Division 2 All-American, First team NABC NJCAA Division 2 All-American, First team All-NJCAA Division 2 Region 1 and first team All-ACCAC… averaged 18.0 points, 9.0 rebounds, 3.6 assists and 2.1 blocked shots per game, shot .539 from the field and .776 at the free throw line

Match-up overview:
I’m really looking forward to the matchup between Ramsey and Woods.  Woods is the type of player that has destroyed UCSB the past few seasons and should be a great barometer for Ramsey to see if he can defend a TJ Shorts type of player. The Vikings are inexperienced in their front court and it is an open question if their forwards that had great careers at the JC level can translate that to D1 success.  UCSB should have the advantage there.  Coach Peery on the Vikings outlook: "The style of play will be the same," said Peery, referring to a team that ranked third in the nation in scoring last year (85.2 ppg), and second in steals (9.8) and turnovers forced (18.1). "I think we will be able to ramp it up even more. I think our depth will be very good. I like our length and athleticism and our speed has taken a step up. The strength of our team will be our depth at each position and the interchangeable parts. We have recruited guys that can play multiple positions," said Peery. "Our weakness will be that we will have some inexperience early on, but I also think our talent level has taken a step up.
Keys to the game for the Gauchos
Neutralize Woods and have our frontcourt get lots of touches.  As with every game, its all about the effort on defense.  (I miss Gabe's dad)

Prediction:  Could be a fun up tempo game with two teams that can run even though UCSB has been slowing the pace so far this year.  With advantages in the front court, JP may choose to slow it down to get Sow, Idehen and Ami more touches.  Gaucho depth & front court prevail, UCSB 82 Portland State 73

Official Site
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How to Watch:

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Fun fact about Portland State:
Freeman Williams, ’78, is the second all-time NCAA scoring leader, trailing only Pistol Pete Maravich.  He accomplished this in only 106 games and without the benefit of the three point line.

Friday, November 16, 2018

Get Tanked!

Gauchos Host Montana State in Saturday Thunderdome Matinée

Devearl Ramsey (Photo by Tony Mastres)

Montana State vs. UCSB Game Preview, by Gaucho Freg

Game 4 (Season D1 Home Opener)
UCSB vs. Montana State Preview 
Saturday, November 17, 2018, 2 pm PST
The Gauchos first home game against a D1 opponent in the 2018/19 season comes against the  Montana State Bobcats of the Big Sky Conference, the first of four consecutive games against Big Sky teams.  The Bobcats visit to Santa Barbara is a return game of a home & home series in which the Gauchos won the first game in convincing fashion last year in Bozeman, 91-69.  Regarding the Big Sky, its membership went down by one from 12 to 11 with North Dakota moving to the Summit.  The Bobcats are coming off a close loss at Colorado State, a big improvement after losing their first two D1 games by a combined 75 points.

By the Numbers                                                              
  Montana St. UCSB
Record (D1 only) 0-3 1-1
Home/away vs D1 0-2 0-0 (home)
 National Rankings
Composite 251 205
DCI (2) 253 225
RPI 77 235
Pomeroy 292 192
Massey 300 155
Sagarin 291 220
SOS 185 217
CBS Preseason Rank 213 203
SI Preseason Rank 176 289
Preseason Poll Pick 5th, 6th 1st – 6th
Efficiency Rankings (Pomeroy)    
Offense 235 179
Defense 322 226
Scoring 67.0 76.0
PPG Allowed 82.5 60.0
Montana State:
Best win: Presentation College          
Worst Loss: Colorado State

Montana State -UCSB History
UCSB All-time record vs. Bobcats:  10-1
Last game (2017):  UCSB 91-69, in Bozeman

Head Coach:
Coach Brian Fish enters his fifth season with a 50-75 record and yet to record a winning season. After showing progress his first three years and with star guard Tyler Hall getting some NBA hype, last year was a step backwards and a repeat performance this year will warm the seat below him.
The Bobcats are a mature team with most of the team leaders and four of five starters returning from last season. That may or may not be a good thing given their disappointing performance but a roster full of seniors and juniors is usually dangerous. They did lose depth with the graduation of four players that played more than 15 mpg. Tyler Hall, after a spectacular sophomore campaign but disappointing junior campaign, returns, looking for a reboot. 
Possible Starters
Guard Harald Frey  #5   6’1”, 180 lb, Junior, 9.8 ppg, 4 apg.  From Norway, Frey leads the team in assists.  Shooting just .273 from three.  He earned All Big Sky HM last season.  Had 10 points in the loss to the Gauchos last year
Guard Tyler Hall #3  6’5”, 210 lb, Senior, 16.8 ppg, 3.8 rbg. 2/3 of his fg attempts are from three, shooting .325  Pre-season Big Sky MVP a year ago, he ended up on the second team and is a pre-season first teamer this year.  Put up 19 points in the loss to the Gauchos last year
Forward Ladan Ricketts #11  6’5”, 185lb JC Transfer Junior   9.8 ppg, .404 from three.  Best 3pt shooter on team, has been coming off the bench.
Forward Keljin Blevins  #2   6’6”, 200 lb, Senior 13.5 ppg, 7 rpg. Leads team in rebounding & free throw attempts.  Put up 8 against UCSB last year. 
Center/Forward Devin Kirby #31  6’10” 215lb, Sophomore 6.8 ppg, 5.3 rbg  Sat out last year. 

Possible Key Reserves:
Guard Russell Daniels  #5   5’11”, 165 lb, Junior.  Has started all four games but is not generating much statistics wise.  May still start. Plays 18 minutes per game.
Center/Forward Sam Neuman #4 6’7” 220lb, Senior 4.1 ppg, 4.5 rpg  Started every game last season
Center Usman Haruna #1 6’10” 235lb, Senior

Match-up & prediction:
After a horrific first two games in which the Bobcats lost by a combined 75 points, including by 30 at home to Utah State, they rebounded to play Colorado State extremely tough, only to lose by 4.  The Bobcats have given up 80 or more to all three D1 opponents including 101 to Utah State.  The biggest question for the Gauchos is when will Max Heidegger return?  He is still being listed as day-to-day.  Despite some impressive performances by the individual newcomers, in the opinion of this fan, Max is still the best player on the team when he is healthy. UCSB has been a mixed bag and after a poor defensive effort against North Dakota State, the Gauchos took it out on poor D3 Cal Lutheran and held them to 32 points.  They won’t be able to match that against the D1 Bobcats of course but the same level of effort should be enough to allow for the Gauchos to prevail, even without Max and if they struggle on the offensive side.  UCSB depth is such a key advantage, JP just needs to make sure he plays the hot hands. 

Keys to the game for the Gauchos
Defense. It’s all about defense.    
Prediction:  UCSB 80 Montana State 64

Official Site
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 How to Watch:
Montana State Pre-Season Preview Links: ... eview-2019 ... y-preview/

Fun facts about Montana State:
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. So for all of the gripes we have about the soft OOC schedule, it does include 2 former NCs in the first three D1 games alone ;-)

Friday, November 9, 2018

Gauchos Look to Stay Perfect on Road, Travel to North Dakota State Sunday

Jarriesse Blackmon (Photo by David Hague)

UCSB vs. NDSU Game Preview, by Gaucho Freg

Game 2
UCSB @ North Dakota State
Sunday, November 11, 2018, 11 am PST
The Gauchos return to the cold northwestern part of the country to take on the NDSU Bison of the Summit League with the Bison looking to revenge the 85-66 walloping at the hands of the Gauchos in the Thunderdome last year.  The Bison, coming off a 15-17 season, have to replace their best player in Paul Miller plus one of their all-time scorers in Adam Jacobson.  In their season openers, the Gauchos defeated Wyoming in Laramie 76-66 and the Bison lost at New Mexico State 73-56.  According to the UCSB press release, Max Heidegger continues to exhibit concussion symptoms and will not be making the trip but an insider in the program said that it is still undecided.  Fingers crossed.

By the Numbers (2017-18 for this game, will switch to 2018-19 next)                                                       
2017-18 Record 15-17 23-9
Conference Record 5-9 11-5
Home/away vs D1 5-7 (home) 8-5 (away)
 National Rankings (2017-18)
Composite 192 136
DCI 211 140
RPI 210 127
Pomeroy 176 123
Massey 190 147
Sagarin 175 144
SOS 170 307
CBS Preseason Rank 213 203
Preseason Poll Pick 5th/6th 3rd
Efficiency Rankings (Pomeroy)    
Offense 169 64
Defense 179 212
Scoring 74.4 75.8
PPG Allowed 70.8 69.1
NDSU last year:
Best win: S. Dakota
Worst Loss: Western Illinois

UCSB All-time record vs. Bison:  1-1
Last game (2017):  UCSB 85-66, in SB

The Arena:  The Bison play in the Scheels Center, originally built in 1970 and known as the Bison Sports Arena, it was redone in 2016 as part of the construction of the Sanford Heath Athletic Complex and bestowed with its new name.  Capacity is 5,830 and they averaged 2,757 fans last season.

Head Coach:
Coach Dave Richman enters his fifth season as the Bison HC and has been with the program for 13 years.  He has a 77-52 record including an NCAA appearance his first year, losing by 10 to Gonzaga as a 15 seed. While he possesses a solid record as HC, he has trended downward every season with win totals of 23, 20, 19 and 15.  Age 39, this has been his only HC position.
The Bison are tasked with replacing three starters from last season including two of their all-time best players and have no seniors on this year’s roster.  Their leading returning scorer is junior wing Tyson Ward who led the team in rebounding (5.9) and is a preseason 2nd team All Summit pick.  It was a former reserve that led the way in their first game as F/C Rocky Kreuser had a career night.
Bison Probable Starters
Vinnie Shahid  #0  Guard, JC transfer Jr, 5’11”, 190 lb   Bison fans are excited about this quick, dynamic pg who averaged 18 ppg and ~ 5 assists at  Western Nebraska CC and was named 2nd Team All JCC. Shahid hit a whopping 48% of his three point attempts.
Jared Samuelson  #11  Guard 6’3”, 185 lb, Junior, Averaged 5.4 ppg on 42% from beyond the arc last year, zero points in 15 minutes in the opener. He did not score against UCSB last year
Sam Griesel  #5  Wing, Freshman,  6’6”, 210 lb   3 points and 4 boards in 24 minutes in his first college game.
Tyson Ward  #24  Wing, Junior, 6’6” 190 lbs  11.8 ppg, 5.9 rpg and 2.6 apg.  Preseason 3rd team All Summit pick.  Statistical leader in points, rebounds and assists from 2017-8.   Most of his fg attempts are inside the arc. He scored 8 points against UCSB in 2017 on 2-3 from three.  6 points on 3-9 shooting in the opener.
Rocky Kreuser  #34  Forward/Center 6’10”, 245 lb Sophomore 3.8 ppg, 2 rpg.   Killed it in the opener, 23 pts, 5 boards & only 1 foul.

Bison Probable Key Reserves:
Cameron Hunter  #22  Guard Sophomore, 6’3”, 185 lb   The only other returning starter (21 games) for the Bison, he averaged 9.2 ppg, 2.4 apg and 3 boards.  A solid 3 point threat, he shot 42% from beyond the arc, with just under half his shots taken from outside.  He scored 11 against UCSB in 2017 including 4-5 from the FT line.
Tyree Eady
  #3  Guard, RS Freshman, 6’5”, 215 lb   Came off the bench in the first game but played over 20 minutes and was the second leading scorer.
Deng Geu  #23  Forward 6’8”, 215 lb, Junior 6.6 ppg, 3.3 rpg.Led team in blocks & fg %.  Put up 11 against UCSB last year.  Athletic but still plays inexperienced.
Jordan Horn  #21 Guard  6’2”, 195 lb, Sophomore Transfer (Siena)

UCSB Probable Starters (assumption of no Max)
Devearl Ramsey: #4  PG, RS Sophomore.  6’0”, 185lb
JaQuori McLaughlin: , #3  Guard, RS Sophomore  6’4, 190lb
Ar’Mond Davis: #1  Wing, Grad Transfer. 6‘6”, 190lb
Jarriese Blackmon:  #2  Forward, Senior, 6’7”, 220lb  
Amadou Sow#12  Forward, Freshman, 6’9”, 235lb  

UCSB Probable Key Reserves:                                                        
Christian Terrell:  #23  Wing, Junior, 6’5”, 200lb  UCSB
Ami Lakoju: #14  Center, Senior, 6’9”, 260lb
Jay Nagle#5  Wing, Freshman.  6’8”, 205lb
Zach Moore:  #34  Guard, RS Junior.  6’5”, 210lb
Robinson Idehen: #35  F/C, Sophomore, 6’10”, 230lb
Opening Game Recaps
UCSB: The Gauchos defeated Wyoming in Laramie 76-66.  They utilized their depth and applied a good pressure defense all game limiting the Cowboys to 36% shooting and 17% from three.  Despite the majority of players playing their first game together the offense executed well and UCSB shot over 50% from the field.  The defense was able to harass and chase down open perimeter shooters better than they did last season.  JaQuori McLaughlin led the team with 17 points and provided a steadying hand at point when starting PG Devearl Ramsey was on the bench.  The speedy Ramsey had 14 points and was 7/8 from the FT line.  Freshman Forward Amadou Sow lead the team with 11 boards, helping the Gauchos outrebound Wyoming 40-29.  The Gauchos led the game 29 of 40 minutes and held the lead the entire second half.

NDSU:  The NMSU Aggies crushed the Bison right out of the gate, jumping to an 18-3 lead and led by double digits the whole way, defeating NDSU 73-56.  The one bright spot for the Bison was the emergence of Sophomore Forward Rocky Kreuser who had a career night with 23 points on 5-6 from three, 9-11 overall after averaging less than 4 ppg last season.

Match-up & prediction:
Similar to UCSB, Bison fans are excited about their team despite some key losses from last year, feeling the talent coming in is superior. The Bison have talent & depth at guard & wings but SB has more talent & depth at those positions even without the great Max Heidegger.  Despite Kreuser's career night, I see Sow being able to handle him and Ami & Idehen should improve upon Tuesday's lackluster performances.  Ramsey's speed will cause the Bison trouble on both ends of the court.

Keys to the game for the Gauchos
If Kreuser’s performance was not an aberration and is a real threat, then Sow will need to stay out of foul trouble and/or Idehen and Lakoju will need to provide much more than they did against Wyoming.  NMSU, like UCSB vs. Wyoming, went deep into their lineup which bodes well for UCSB in terms of continuous fresh legs applying defensive pressure.  Tyson Ward had a poor opener but is still a threat that CT/Davis/JMac will need to shut down.  One area that UCSB needs to address is turnovers.  I expect game two to be cleaner and UCSB will address that and
Prediction:  Gaucho depth & talent prevails, UCSB 74 NDSU 63

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Fun facts about NDSU:
They are the greatest FCS football team in history having won the national championship 13 times including 5 consecutive from 2011-2015. They are 9-0 this season. QB Carson Wentz led the Super Bowl champ Eagles to an 11-2 record last season before going down to injury. Their rival is South Dakota State, one of the top mid-majors in the country this year.  Average November high temperature in Fargo, ND is 37 °F and the average low is 22°F.  Average November high temperature in Santa Barbara is 70°F and the low is 49°F.  Ole.

Just for kicks, my preview of the matchup from last year:

Sunday, November 4, 2018

UCSB vs. Wyoming Preview, by Gaucho Freg

Game 1
UCSB @ Wyoming Preview
Tuesday, November 6, 2018, 6pm PST

The Gauchos travel to Laramie to take on the Cowboys of the Mountain West Conference in the season opener for both teams.  In this battle of North vs. South, Cowboy version, it should provide for a competitive game as both teams lose a lot from last year but return their leading scorers while adding some talented newcomers.

By the Numbers                                                              
  Wyoming UCSB
Preseason Poll Pick (range) 7th to 11th 1st to 6th
CBS Preseason Rank
112 203
2017-18 Record 20-13 23-9
      Conference Record 10-8 11-5
      Home/away vs D1 12-4 (home) 8-5 (away)
 National Rankings (2017-18)
Composite 120 136
DCI 146 140
RPI 98 127
Pomeroy 118 123
Massey 117 147
Sagarin 122 144
SOS 97 307
Efficiency Rankings (Pomeroy)    
                     Offense 160 64
                     Defense 92 212
Scoring 79.8 75.8 
PPG Allowed 78.7 69.1
Wyoming last year:
Best win: Nevada
Worst Loss: Colorado State

Wyoming-UCSB History
UCSB All-time record vs. Cowboys:  2-4
Last game (2012):  Wyoming 68-40, in Laramie

The Arena: Arguably the worst named arena in the country bested only be an even worse nick-name, the “Auditorium-Arena”, nicknamed “AA”, seats 15,028 and is the highest altitude arena in the country at 7,220 feet.  The Cowboys averaged a bit over 5,000 attendance per game last year at home.

Head Coach:  Third year coach Allen Edwards is the first in Wyoming history to win at least 20 games in his first two seasons.  Like Coach Pasternack, Edwards had a terrific first season (2016-17), winning 23 games, setting the school record for offense and winning the CBI. He was an assistant at Wyoming for five years prior to elevating to the HC job.  He’s also had assistant jobs at W. Kentucky, VCU & Morehead St.  As a player, he won two National Championships at Kentucky (1995—1998)
The Cowboys bring back their leading scorer in senior and first team MWC Justin James, a 6’7” wing who averaged 19 ppg, 6 boards and three assists. He flirted with the NBA draft before deciding to remain for his final season. They have two players that were injured last year that should have major roles this year in senior PF Jordan Naughton who was a starter his sophomore year and incoming RS freshman Hunter Thompson who had an injured ankle.  Wyoming graduated 7 players including another first team player and the conference defensive POY from last year’s team so like UCSB, they have significant production to replace and lots of new pieces to integrate.  Coach Edwards will likely still be experimenting with his lineup coming into this game. 
Post exhibition, a Wyoming fan posted this breakdown of the player’s performance:

My breakdown:
Possible Starters
Guard Nyaires Redding #3  6’2” 166 lbs, Senior.  The only other returning player besides Maldonado and James to play significant minutes, the slight guard averaged 3.7 ppg and 1.3 apg.  He played limited minutes at Washington State for two years before transferring. Played 39 minutes in the exhibition, 8-12 from the FT line, just 2-9 from the field.
Guard Hunter Maldonado #24   6’7”, 185 lb, Sophomore, The only other returning starter (19 games) for the Cowboys, he averaged 5.3 ppg and 2 boards.  Team captain. Led the team in points & rebounds in their opening exhibition in which he played 37 minutes
Wing Justin James  #1 6’7”, 180 lb, Senior #1  See above. Will be the focus for the Gaucho defense.  Sat out the exhibition.
Forward Hunter Thompson #10 6’10”, 225 lb, RS Freshman  Listed as an impact newcomer by The MW Wire, Thompson was listed as a 4* and top 100 recruit by ESPN. He apparently had an ankle injury which is why he sat out last season.  8 points, 3 boards and fouled out in the exhibition. Will be a good battle between he and the Gaucho newcomers in the post. 
Forward Jordan Naughton  #33 6’10”, 225 lb,  Senior. Due to injuries, Naughton only played 9 games last year.  As a sophomore he started 26 games, averaging 4.4 ppg and 2.8 boards.  Played just 8 minutes in the exhibition but was 5-5 from the field for 10 points

 Possible Key Reserves:
Guard Jake Hendricks  #0 6’5”, 180 lb.  JC Transfer Junior  Another College of S. Idaho guy, lights out shooter. Set CSI record for 3 pointers made.  Nursing an injured wrist so questionable if he’ll play.
Point Guard AJ Banks #2 6’2”, 163 lb.  JC Transfer Junior   Good athlete and probable back up PG  DNP in the exhibition.
Forward Trace Young  #11 6’9”, 210 lb Freshman   ESPN 3*  Potential to start.  Point-forward skills.  DNP in the exhibition. But coach indicates he could be a RS candidate.
Guard Tariq Johnson #5 6’5”, 206 lb.  Freshman   Was able to draws fouls in the exhibition where he was 6-6 from the line. 
Forward Lwal Dung #34 6’7”, 180 lb Freshman The unfortunately named Australian is a good 3 point shooter and rebounds well for his build.  Defensive stopper.  Played just 6 min in the exhibition.
Forward Brandon Porter #22 6’8”, 190 lb Freshman  Averaged 23ppg and 9 boards at his prep academy.  3-5 from the field for 10 points and 3 steals in the exhibition.
Wing TJ Taylor #13  6’6”, 197 lb Freshman ESPN 3*, Floor spacer.  Active and athletic
Forward Austin Mueller #14 6’6”, 210lb Sophomore Workhorse role player.  Played 35 minutes in the exhibition.

Match-up & prediction:
This will be one of the more intriguing openers for UCSB in that they face a team that they will have a lot in common with.  Both squads have significant turnover from the previous season but return their leading scorers and both have fairly new coaches.  However, UCSB may not have their returning scoring leader, Max Heidegger, who, at best, will not be at full speed after missing much of the preseason workouts with injuries.  On the plus side for the Gauchos, three of their transfers have significant D1 experience so they may have more composure compared to the Cowboy newcomers.  Both teams had no trouble scoring last year but struggled on the defensive side, especially Wyoming which gave up 79 ppg.  In preseason interviews with Coach P, defense is receiving a greater focus for UCSB now that they have the athletes to utilize the strategies he wishes to employ. They will face a significant challenge right out of the gate in the offensive minded Cowboys.   Wyoming did not look good in their exhibition but, it was without their best player and it was an exhibition where sloppiness and a lack of execution is to be expected.  Coach Edwards after the exhibition: "This was an opportunity for me to solidify some thoughts and answer some questions about some guys who I still need to make decisions on whether they can help us this year or whether we will consider redshirting them," Edwards said. "There was a method within what we did tonight.  I wanted some of our young guys to have to go through this tonight and understand the kind of competition that is coming their way.”  IOTW, Wyoming wasn’t playing to win so that result means less.

Keys to the game for the Gauchos
·         First & foremost, limit James.  Not sure who will get this assignment yet but we’ll need Davis/CT/Toure to hound him.
·         Ramsey wins the PG battle vs. Redding who had 12 ft attempts in the exhibition. 
·         Idehen and Sow get boards.  The Cowboy front court is relatively young outside of Naughton and were out rebounded by 11 in their exhibition.  See if UCSB can do the same.
·         Find scoring from other players while not at their Mac-Max  Talking to you Mr. Davis!

Prediction:  It will likely be ugly at first, for both teams but the Cowboys do have an advantage of having a public exhibition under their belts.  Its tempting to look at the mediocre performance against a D2 school and dismiss the Cowboys but clearly their coach was not playing just to win.  Both teams will be working to integrate new pieces and neither team will likely be executing efficiently or be scoring at their normal production. UCSB, without Max at 100% or McLaughlin, plus with Wyoming being a very difficult place to play, probably struggles more. Wyoming 77 UCSB 73

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Wyoming Pre-Season Preview Links ... 19-preview ... omers.aspx ... y-preview/

Wyoming Fun Facts:  The university was founded in 1886, four years before statehood.  The Cowboys won the NCAA Tournament in 1943

Gauchos Open 2018-19 Season Tuesday at Wyoming

Christian Terrell is one of just five returnees for the Gauchos. UCSB will play at Wyoming and North Dakota State to open the 2018-19 season.

Thursday, November 1, 2018

Men's Basketball Open Practice at the Thunderdome Saturday