Thursday, March 7, 2019

UCSB vs. CSUN Game Preview, by Gaucho Freg

UCSB @ CSUN, Game 2
Thursday, March 9, 2019, 7 PM PST

Overview:  Like the ball dribbling on the court, 3rd place UCSB has been up & down in Big West play and are looking for a bounce back on the road vs. the upward trending Matadors who are in a three-way tie for 4thplace

By the Numbers                                                             
 Quadrant 4 Game
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Record 13-17 19-9
Home/Away (D1) 6-8 (H) 5-6 (A)
Big West Conference 7-7 8-6
Composite National Rankings
DCI 1&2, BPI, SOR, KP, Massey, NET, RPI, Sagarin 261 160
NET 273 160
SOS (NET) 314 299
Efficiency Rankings (Pomeroy) 
Offense 160 139
Defense 329 211
Team Statistics (Overall/BWC)
Scoring 76.7  /  75.4 73.3  /  68.9
FG% 46.5  /  46.1 45.5  /  42.9
3Pt % 36.2  /  37.1 33.9  /  33.2
FT% 62.9  / 64.8 71.5  /  71.8
PPG Allowed (All/Conf) 79.2  /  75.0 65.2  /  66.1
FG % Defense 44.8  /  43.1 42.3  /  45.6
3Pt % Defense 38.4  /  37.8  29.8  /  31.9
Rebounding Margin  -2.4  /  -3.5 +6.7  /   +3.6
Best win (NET): Pepperdine (away, 178)
Worst Loss (NET): Portland (home, 328)
Trend:  After choking away a 16 point lead in the Pyramid, the ‘Dors caught UC Davis with their Shorts down and have not lost since, now owning a three game win streak, with their last win being over Hawaii in Manoa.  Of note in that streak are two very close wins (Davis, UCR), the types of games CSUN was consistently losing earlier. 

UCSB- CSUN History
This will be the 58th meeting between the two teams with the Gauchos holding a 38-19 advantage.  The Gauchos own a 3 game win streak in the series.  In Santa Barbara on February 6th, the Matadors jumped to an 11-0 lead before the Gauchos settled down and went into HT down just 29-28.  Max Heidegger had a season high 26 points in bringing the Gauchos all the way back to a 6 point victory.  Gaucho defense/ an off-night of 3-point shooting held the Matadors to just 1-21 from deep and to 13 points below their season scoring average.  CSUN did shoot 63% from inside the arc and outscored the Gauchos in the paint by 10.  Do-everything Lamine Diane led the ‘Dors with 28 points on 12-19 from the field and even hit 4-6 from the FT line.  Gomez scored only about half his average with 10 points on just 3-13 from the field (1-8 from deep).  Besides Heidegger, Sow also had an excellent game with 16 pts and 9 boards.  Blackmon had a nice game off the bench, getting 5 pts, 5 boards, 4 assists and 2 steals in 26 minutes and, most importantly, managed to slow Diane’s torrid start to the game. Not to ignore the defense from Ramsey & McLaughlin which kept the potent CSUN guards in check.
Head Coach
Mark Gottfried took over the troubled Northridge program from Reggie Theus this year.  He has the deepest pedigree of all Big West coaches and this is true even if you don’t consider his lead assistant is former UCLA & Pepperdine coach Jim Harrick.  He won a National Championship as an assistant under Harrick at UCLA and has numerous NCAA tournament appearances and victories in lengthy stints at NC State, Alabama and Murray State. 
CSUN has one of the younger rosters in the country.  While still not a deep team, their secondary players are improving slightly and contributing a bit more compared to early in the season.  Youth and a lack of depth goes far to explain why the Matadors have given up several big leads this season. With the negatives out of the way, the Matadors have two excellent players in Darius Brown and JC transfer Rocket Henderson and two All Big West Level players in Terrell Gomez and Lamine Diane.

Probable Starters
Guard Darius Brown  #10 6’1”, 180lb, Freshman  8.4 ppg, 5.4 apg, 3.3 ATO ratio. 3.4 rpg, 32 mpg.  Leads the Big West in assists and the Matadors with 36 steals. Is shooting .466 from the field.  Would be a FOY candidate if not for Diane.  
Guard Terrell Gomez  #3 5’8” 160 lbs, Sophomore  19.7 ppg, 2.8 apg, 38 mpg.  Gets to the line about 4x a game and makes 88% of his freebies.  A workhorse who is shooting an impressive 48% from the field including .429 from deep.   Leads the league in made three pointers with 106.  As point of comparison the tops for UCSB are Davis & McLaughlin with 43 ea.  Second on the team and in the Big West in scoring.  Reigning FOY.
Guard Cameron Gottfried #15  6’3”, 190 lb.  GT  5.0 ppg, 4.5 rpg, 2.2 apg, 26 mpg.   Coach’s son, the Grad Transfer provides some rare senior leadership on this young roster.  Was at NC State for two years previously but did not play. 
Forward Lamine Diane  #35  6’7”, 205 lb. RS Freshman  24.2 ppg, 10.8 rpg, 35 mpg.  Leads the league in scoring and rebounding, also ranking in the top ten in these categories nationwide.  Does just about everything well except hit his free-throws, hitting exactly half of his 214 attempts.  His moves, touch and length are all elite level.  Is the POY favorite and if any other player wins it will be a travesty. 
Forward Jared Pearre  #25  6’9”, 190 lb. RS Freshman 3.1 ppg, 3.0 rpg, 14 mpg. Limited minutes for a starter.
Key Reserves
Wing Rodney Henderson  #1 6’5”, 185lb, JC Transfer Junior  11.0 ppg, 3.8 rpg, 26 mpg.  A good three point shooter, is second on the team in makes, but has slumped a little bit from deep. Team’s 3rd leading scorer, has started 9 games and shoots  80% from the ft line.  Nicknamed Rocket.
Forward Ron Artest Jr  #14  6’7”, 215 lb  Freshman.  12 mpg.  Has only played 12 games, was not eligible earlier.  Is physical & a hard worker, but not polished.  Is improving.
Center Michael Ou  #30  6’9”, 230 lb  Freshman  4.0 ppg, 2.6 rpg. 16 mpg.  Sometimes starter, dealt with an injury earlier.  From China
Center Mahamadou Kaba-Camara  #34  7’0”, 273 lb  Junior  11mpg.  Has played just 13 games but getting more minutes recently.

Match-up overview:  The youthful Matadors are on an upward trend and with Kamara & Ou playing more minutes, have more depth in the post than they did earlier in the season.  They still boast the most prolific offense in the conference and are very good at scoring in the paint but their defense is still the worst in the conference.  CSUN does not rebound well and UCSB crashing the boards as they have all year should translate to more scoring opportunities for the Gauchos.  CSUN’s MO has been to jump out to leads and struggle late.  UCSB has frequently been a slow starter and does not always recover well.  Gaucho three point shooting is not very good right now, 8th in makes and 6th in % in the Big West, despite some inherently good shooters in Ramsey, JRoq, Max, Davis & Nagle.  On the other side, CSUN is 2nd in the conference in 3pt% so it can’t be expected that they will go 1-21 from deep again.

Interesting trends to consider: Thursdays are UCSB’s equivalent of Mondays after a weekend of hard partying, they are 2-4. UCSB has done well in Northridge in recent history, winning 6 of the past 7 there; the only loss coming in Bob’s last season when the Gauchos lost every road game except for their last one @ Poly.

Keys to the game for the Gauchos
·       Sow’s speed & athleticism.  He is superior to any Matador post but their team does have the athletes to double up on him and provide help defense.  He needs to make a quick move before the double comes or find the open player.
·       Diane is way too much for any one player.  Sow started on him in the first game but was getting schooled—Diane scored 8 of the Matadors first 11.  Blackmon took over after coming off the bench and slowed him down, if just a bit.  Will be interesting to see if JP wants to start Blackmon this time.
·       Limit easy drives to the basket.   CSUN shot 65% from two and outscored UCSB by 10 in the paint in the last game. 
·       Keep moving the ball on offense, would be nice to get Armond Davis untracked, he’s gone for 6 & 8 the past two games. 
·       Dominate the boards.  CSUN will score and 70 points will probably not be enough this time, Gauchos will need the 2nd chance points.

Prediction:  Another battle in store.  CSUN won’t get another 11 pt head-start but this should be a close one through the end and likely higher scoring than last time. Many signs point to a Matador victory; they are a team slowly improving, they’re learning how to win the close games and the law of averages suggest they will be (significantly) improved from deep this game, and its on a Thursday!  Inconsistency of UCSB’s play this season makes them hard to predict but I’m going to flip a coin and say UCSB bounces to good defense and effort this time and they pull out a victory.  UCSB 76  CSUN 73

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