Saturday, November 24, 2018

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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