Thursday, January 17, 2019, 7 PM PST
Overview: The Gauchos, coming off a very successful 5-0 home stand hit the road for their first away game of conference play. UC Davis, after a miserable pre-season against a difficult schedule, showed improvement in opening conference play in their two losses on the road to UCI & Long Beach. This will be the first five games representing the most difficult stretch of the conference schedule for the Gauchos, with road games at Fullerton & LB, home vs. UCI then @ Hawaii on tap.
By the Numbers
|Home/Away vs D1||1-2 (H)||2-3 (A)|
|Composite National Rankings|
|DCI 1&2, BPI, KP, Massey, NET, RPI, Sagarin||296||134|
|SOS (ESPN BPI)||67||345|
|CBS Preseason Rank||179||288|
|SI Preseason Rank||164||185|
|Preseason Poll Pick||3rd||4th|
|Efficiency Rankings (Pomeroy)|
|FG % Defense||45.4||39.3|
|3Pt % Defense||32.7
Best win (NET): vs. Texas A&M, Corpus Christi (239)
Worst Loss (NET): vs. Sac State (294, neutral site)
This will be the 68th meeting between the schools with the Gauchos holding a 38-29 advantage. The schools split the series last season, each winning on the other team’s court. Davis won the second meeting in February.
Head Coach: Jim Les is in his 8th season at the helm of the Aggies and has won both a regular season crown (2014) and the BWT (2017). His record @ Davis stands at 113-127 overall and 59-57 in BW play. As a player in the NBA he led the league in three point % n the 1990-91 season while playing for Sacramento. Prior to coaching Davis, he had an excellent run at Bradley, taking the Braves to the Sweet 16 in 2006, the NIT 2nd round the following season then consecutive championship games in the lesser CBI & CIT, respectively.
The Aggies start three seniors, a junior and a freshman. Their primary reserves are two juniors and two freshmen. Both junior guard Stefan Gonzales and senior forward AJ John have dealt with injuries. Davis fan BlueGoldAg’s comments in italics.
Guard TJ Shorts #0 5’9”, 160 lb. Senior 14.9 ppg, 5.1 rpg, 3.8 apg, 33 mpg
What more can be said about the Aggies' diminutive PG. He is, quite simply, the best PG ever to wear an Aggie uniform and he is a pure joy to watch for any college basketball fan
Davis’s unquestioned team leader and the biggest thorn in UCSB’s side last season, Shorts is doing his best to hold up the disappointing Aggies. He is shooting a very respectable .492 from the field and .321 from deep. Leads the team in just about all categories including, very surprisingly given he is just 5’9”, rebounding. Heroic effort against UCI nearly led to an unlikely upset.
Guard Damion Squire #1 6’0”, 175 lb. Freshman 3.6 ppg, shooting 41% from deep.
Damion has seen a lot of action as a true freshman. He's a solid ball handler, can shoot from distance and plays with poise for a true freshman. Recent addition to the starting lineup, averaging 12 mpg for the season.
Guard Siler Schneider #5 6’3”, 183 lb. Senior 10.7 ppg, 2.5 rpg, 2 apg, 28 mpg
Siler has had his struggles this year especially shooting from distance. He brings toughness, hustle and energy to the floor every game for the Aggies and tends to be a streaky shooter. He can score in clusters when he gets it going. Unfortunately, he also has a tendency to drive the ball into trouble and make TO's as well. His shooting has slipped from last season, .404 overall and .318 from deep. 44 TOs to 30 assists.
Forward Garrison Goode #44 6’7”, 225 lb, Senior 5.6 ppg, 3.6 rpg 29 mpg. Garrison is primarily a
strong defender and rebounder but he has had his best offensive production of his career this season as the Ags have had to focus on going inside more. Shooting .567 from the field, zero three point attempts.
Center Matt Neufield #13 6’11”, 225 lb, Junior 6.4 ppg, 2.4 rpg 15 mpg.
Matt sat out last year after transferring from St Louis. He is smooth and fairly agile for a big man but has have trouble staying out of early foul trouble. His offensive game is getting better with each outing and he can be a significant contributor for the Aggies if he can just stay on the floor longer. Recent addition to the starting lineup in place of the injured AJ Johns.
Forward AJ John #25 6’8”, 225 lb, Senior 4.6 ppg, 4.5 rpg 26 mpg.
AJ has struggled with injuries this year and has missed most of the preseason. He was a key in the Aggies' offense last year after Chima Moneke was lost and he has the ability to light it up from distance when he's feeling it. He was brilliant against Indiana but, other than that, he has not been himself. He's still working to shake off the rust and get back into playing shape The Ags desperately need him to get healthy
Guard Joe Mooney #22 6’3”, 187 lb. Junior 8.3 ppg
Joe has been frustrated most of the season. His usually reliable shooting was off and he was seeing less and less playing time. That changed in a big way last weekend at Irvine and Long Beach. He scored 14 and 29 points respectively in those two games primarily on a combined 10 of 16 from 3. Welcome back Joe! Third leading scorer and leads team in 3pt makes, shooting at a 36% clip from deep. 20 mpg. 8 assists vs 14 TOs.
Guard Caleb Fuller #11 6’5”, 210 lb. Freshman 4.4 ppg, 3 rpg, 17 mpg.
Caleb hails from Ipswich, England, and came to the Aggies this year with lots on international experience. He's very strong and athletic and a bit raw. He's still adjusting to the physicality and speed of the American D1 game. He has the potential to become a significant player for the Aggies Efficient shooter, hitting .500 from the field, .421 from deep, seeing his role increase.
Guard Rogers Printup #23 6’4”, 205 lb. Junior 12 mpg
Rogers is a uniquely special player for the Aggies. He is deaf but can read lips and is able to communicate with the coaches and his teammates. He can be a deadly 3 point shooter with a quick catch and shoot release
Forward Colin Russell #21 6'10 221 Senior
Colin is seeing more playing time this season in relief of Goode and Neufeld. He's primarily a defender assigned to be a physical presence in the paint for the Ags.
Guard Stefan Gonzalez #2 6’2”, 195 lb. Junior 6.1 ppg, 4 rpg, .295 from deep. 22 mpg. 8 assists vs
15 TOs. Stefan was expected to be a great 3 point shooter for the Aggies this year after transferring from St Mary's and sitting out last year. Unfortunately, he has been out with injuries and has not seen that much playing time. The Ags hope to see him back soon and healthy as they need all they help they can get to score from the perimeter.
View from an Aggie Fan: Thanks and credit to BlueGoldAg who also provided the previews last year.
To say it's been a tough season for the Aggies this year would be an huge understatement. I don't think many people who follow Big West basketball, and certainly not any Aggie fans, would have predicted that the Ags would find themselves with only 4 wins against 12 loses at this point in the season. The Ags have played their most ambitious preseason schedule ever after the team reportedly told Coach Les that they wanted to challenge themselves against more major programs in the preseason. Les complied and, in doing so, he openly stated that there would be a real possibility that the team could get exposed if they were unable to step up to the level of their competition and, for the most part, that's what has happened.
So what has accounted for such big drop off in the win column for the Aggies this year? Well, certainly, the tougher preseason schedule has had a lot to do with it but another big factor has been injuries to two key players. AJ John and Stefan Gonzalez have both been sidelined for much of the preseason. John has is just now slowly getting back on the floor after battling a persistent knee problem and a concussion while Gonzalez has been out with an undisclosed injury. Both of these players were being counted on for their ability to score from the perimeter and John adds length and rebounding as well.
The other big factor in the Aggies' struggles this season has been a precipitous drop off in offense. Les preaches defense but you can't win on defense alone and the Aggie offensive production has been miserable most of the year. Last year the Aggies averaged 72.3 ppg and this year they are averaging only 64.1 ppg. The biggest area of offensive demise has been in 3 point shooting. Last year the Ags shot 37.2% from 3 but that has dropped off to a paltry 23.3% this year. The inability to shoot the 3 and stretch the floor on offense is the Achilles heel of the team and our opponents have been focusing on making the Ags beat them from the outside by clogging up the middle on defense.
All is not doom and gloom though. The Ags have played very well in a few games. Against Indiana, they led by as much as 14 in the second half before the Hoosiers caught fire in the final 7 minutes of the game and they played outstanding ball in a 2 point loss at Arizona. They also just lost two close games on the road to Irvine and Long Beach to open BW play and, while they didn't finish with a win in either game, they showed that they can be a tough out against any team in the league.
So how do the Ags match up against Santa Barbara? In a nutshell, not very well. On paper, UCSB is significantly better in every major statistical category than the Aggies The only advantage I can realistically see for the Aggies is that the game is being played in Davis and the Ags just might be one of the most frustrated hungry teams in the nation. Consequently, the Aggies will play their hearts out; that's guaranteed. If they can get some shots to fall and play solid defense, they could make this a close game or even edge out a win. After all, it is the wild, wild Big West...
Aggie fans are looking forward to the Gauchos coming to the Pavilion on Thursday night. In many ways this is a pivotal game for the Aggies. The Ags have played very well at times this year against good teams but have nothing to show for it. They're hungry, extremely hungry. Starting off Big West play with games at Irvine and Long Beach on the road and UCSB at home is a tough way to begin chasing another conference championship but so it goes. The Ags need a win in a bad way and, if they are able to pull the upset against the Gauchos, it could be the turning point of their season.
This could be a good one!
Side note: It's not uncommon to see the former head coach of the Aggies and the Gauchos, Bob Williams, seated court side at the Aggie basketball games. I'd bet we'll see him sitting there court side on the baseline near the Aggie bench for this one too.
Match-up overview: Despite its terrible record, UC Davis is still the defending regular season champions with nearly everyone back, including MVP TJ Shorts. They have played a very difficult schedule and although it has not translated to victories, they have come within single shots of defeating Arizona and UC Irvine, both on the road. Part of their early struggles was forward AJ Johns attempting to play through injury. They finally sat him a few games and he has returned but in a reserve role. All-Big West player Siler Schneider and sharpshooter Joe Mooney both started the season shooting terribly but have improved since. The Aggies are a very experienced team with a point guard that plays like a hero. He destroyed UCSB in the second game last year but now the Gauchos have a speedster point guard of their own in Ramsey. Needless to say, this is one of the match-ups I’ve been looking forward to all year. UCSB had absolute battles in two home games against teams expected to be at the bottom of the conference. It gets significantly tougher up in Davis.
Keys to the game for the Gauchos:
· Don’t allow Shorts to carve up the defense. Ramsey, here’s your toughest match-up of conference play.
· Gauchos have the advantage in the post. Sow’s speed and athleticism vs. Matt Neufield and AJ John. Sow has been a beast two of the past three games and I believe Pasternack will go to him early and often. Ami has been very good the past two games in limited minutes and he & Idehen should get ample PT relieving Sow. Inside-outside game, punch the clock down low first then let our shooters cash in when Davis is forced to collapse their defense.
· Garrison Goode is a, well, good forward and hopefully Blackmon’s ankle is healed as we will need his defense on him.
· Jaquori vs. Siler; two of the better off-guards in the league.
· Max integration project, continued. I respect the patience he has shown, he is letting the game come to him, he is using his quicks & superior court vision to create opportunities and his ATO ratio stands at 5.7! He is also taking his defense seriously even if his legs are still catching up. His shot is not there yet but other pieces of his game are. He will find his range, its just a matter of when. If it happens on Thursday, it is going to be really tough for the Aggies.
Prediction: This game worries me as UCSB struggled to defeat the bottom teams in the conference and aside from the Washington & Wyoming games, has not played that well on the road. For the Gauchos to win, they will have to establish their inside game and, at least somewhat, limit the hero ball by Shorts. I think it will be an absolute battle but after two tough games already, I think the Gauchos bring their A game this time and do just enough to pull out a victory. UCSB 67 UCD 65
Official Site: https://ucdavisaggies.com/index.aspx?path=mbball
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Big West Three-Man Weave Pre-Season Preview Link:
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