Thursday, December 13, 2018

UCSB vs. Rice Game Preview, by Gaucho Freg

Game 10
UCSB @ Rice Preview
Saturday, December 15, 2018, 12 PM PST
After a week off for finals, UCSB hits the road to take on the Rice Owls of the Conference USA.  In the Gaucho version of Where’s Waldo, the question that remains is When’s Max?  Best guess here is that with two games against lightly regarded opponents on this road trip, they will continue to play it safe and wait for the December 22 home gave vs. Idaho St.

By the Numbers                                                             
  rice owls logo.jpg UCSB logo small.png
Record (D1 only) 2-6 6-2
Home/Away vs D1 2-1 (H) 1-2 (A)
Composite National Rankings
DCI 1&2, BPI, KP, Massey, NET, RPI, Sagarin 301 134
NET 313 134
SOS 61 325
CBS Preseason Rank 303 203
SI Preseason Rank 252 185
Preseason Poll Pick 14th 1st – 6th
Efficiency Rankings (Pomeroy) 
Offense 254 183
Defense 313 131
Scoring 74 74.4
FG% 44.2 46.8
3Pt % 31.8 32.2
FT% 65.2 69.7
PPG Allowed 79.1 60.3
FG % Defense 45.3 36.5
3Pt % Defense 33.0  24.5
Rebounding Margin -2.3 +9.2
The Arena:  The Tudor Field House was originally built in 1950 and was renovated in 2007.  Capacity is 5,208 and they are averaging 1,404 in attendance.  One end court has a blue curtain instead of stands.

Best win (NET):  Northwestern State (349)
Worst Loss (NET):  Lamar (231)

Rice-UCSB History
UCSB leads the series, 2-0.  The Gauchos & the Owls had a home & home (Houston then Santa Barbara) series back in the 1972-73 & the 1973-74 seasons with UCSB winning both games by 3 & 4 points respectively. 
Head Coach:  Second year coach Scott Para elevated from the associate head coach position with the Owls to the leadership position in difficult circumstances in which the roster was decimated by graduation and transfers (including one Marcus Jackson to UCSB) after losing their head coach to VCU.  Without much time to replace all the transfers with good recruits, the Owls dropped from a 23 win season the year previous to just 7.  Prior to Rice, Para was an assistant at Penn University and before that at ASU under Herb Sendek.  Earlier, he was a successful prep school coach at Artesia in Southern California.

Roster  The Owls are in a rebuilding mode with most of their contribution coming from freshmen & sophomores. They are led in scoring by a junior in guard Ako Adams and do have some senior leadership in former LB 49er & UOP Tiger Jack Williams who is a Grad Transfer for the Owls.
Probable Starters
Guard – Ako Adams  #3  6’2”, 175 lb, Junior 12.7 ppg, 27 mpg, .404  from three  Team’s leading 3 point shooter and scorer.  Also leads the team in assists with 3.3 pg and has made 91% of his free throws.
Guard – Josh Parrish  #1  6’5”, 210 lb, RS Sophomore 8.1 ppg, 3.9 rpg, .346 from three, 23 mpg.  Leads team in blocks with 10, second on the team in getting to the line but makes only 57% of his FTs. 
Wing -  Drew Peterson  #23  6’8”, 180 lb,  Freshman  7 ppg, 5 rbg  24 mpg   Second in three point attempts, making 29%.
ForwardJack Williams #35  6’8”, 220 lb, GT – 9.9 ppg, 7.2 rpg, 27.7 mpg   A player familiar to BW fans as he played at Long Beach a couple years before transferring to Pacific.  Leads the owls in rebounding.  Leads team in minutes played and in rebounds. Is 3-25 from deep.
ForwardQuentin Millora-Brown #42  6’9”, 205 lb, Freshman - 5.7 ppg, 4.4 rpg, 20 mpg  

Probable Key Reserves
Forward -  Robert Martin  #10  6’5”, 185 lb,  Junior  12.0 ppg, 5.3 rbg  24 mpg.  An excellent three point shooter, is hitting them at a .469 clip.  Also leads team in getting to the line. Playing starter minutes though he comes off the bench.  Second in scoring.
Guard – Chris Mullins.  #24  6’3”, 170 lb, Freshman   Playing starter minutes at 23 pg, 4th on the team in scoring with 9.6 ppg and shoots well from deep, .400.  Is second in assists
Wing– Trey Murphy.  #2  6’7”, 180 lb, Freshman   4.8 ppg, 13 mpg
Guard – Payton Moore  #0  6’4”, 175 lb, Freshman
Forward- Tim Harrison #35  6’8”, 220 lb, Junior   Has started 3 games
Match-up overview:
Rice is fairly young and in a rebuild mode.  Their efficiency ratings are well in the bottom half in the country for both offense & defense, and the other computer assessments don’t think much of the Owls either.  They are coming off a close, come-from-behind victory over D2 St. Edwards.  On offense they appear to have a solid guard in Ako Adams, a decent big in Jack Williams and have better-than-average bench play with two of their top four scorers coming off the bench.   On the UCSB side of things, what has stood out to me the most is how much better the defense is this year over last and how it is getting better as the season progresses.  Excluding their D2 opponent Cal Lutheran, check out this trend in three key defensive measurements:
Game Opp. Scoring Avg Opp FG % Avg. UCSB Def. Eff. Rating
1 66.0 36.0% 212*
2 74.0 42.5% 212*
3 72.3 43.1% 226
4 71.5 41.2% 232
5 68.2 40.3% 210
6 66.5 40.4% 192
7 66.6 40.6% 180
8 64.0 39.7% 146
9     132¥
*final from 2017/18 season
¥ Current Pomeroy rating

After their poor defensive effort against North Dakota State (game 2), the Gaucho defense has been superb and with just a minor statistical blip vs. Washington (understandable given the major jump in competition), has been getting better every game.  Pasternack and the players deserve a lot of credit for this consistent effort.  Should it continue vs. Rice, even with an off night on offense, Gauchos win.  If the offense is clicking, then they win comfortably. 

Keys to the game for the Gauchos
·       Defense.  See above
·       Rice does not have much interior size. Get the ball to Sow, then run Idehen and Lakoju at them
·       Not necessarily key as the Gauchos are getting it done, but Ramsey has room to improve with his decision making.  His speed, effort and defense are incredible, but ill-advised passes have been his weakness; this fan would like to see this start to improve in Houston.

Prediction:  UCSB 73  Rice 59
Official Site:
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How to Watch:   ESPN+

Rice Pre-Season Preview Link: ... eview-2019
Fun facts about Rice:  Athletically, the Owls are best known for the baseball program with numerous College World Series appearances including a championship in 2003.   With only ~4,000 undergrads, Rice is the second smallest non-military university to field a D1 football team (Tulsa being the smallest)

The real interesting fact about the university is its origin.  William Marsh Rice, originally from Massachusetts, made his millions in Texas real estate, rail roads & cotton.  In 1891 he decided to charter a new university, that would bear his name, to be founded upon his death and would be the recipient of the bulk of his vast fortune. A noble endeavor but Rice's will specified the institution was to be "a competitive institution of the highest grade" and that only white students would be permitted to attend.  To be fair, that appears to have been the norm for southern universities in that era. He died unexpectedly in 1900 and not long after a very large check was attempted to be cashed by his lawyer, Albert Patrick, who claimed that Rice had changed his mind about the institute and was leaving the fortune to him.  An investigation revealed that Patrick convinced the butler to apply a chloroform rag to Rice’s face while he slept, killing him.  So, with all the makings of a Hollywood movie, you have money, a rail road baron, an unscrupulous lawyer, a dose of old-fashioned Southern racism (though they were egalitarian with women’s rights as their first class had 40% women) and, in the end, the butler did it.
After the legal shake-out and well-taken time to perform research into planning and building one of the most beautiful campuses in the country, the school welcomed its first students in 1912.  True to Rice’s specifications, it has become one of the best universities in the country. The first black student finally made it on to campus in 1963.

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