Sunday, November 10, 2019

UCSB vs. UCLA Men's Basketball Game Preview, by Gaucho Freg

Brandon Cyrus (Photo by Jeff Liang)

UCSB @ UCLA Preview
Sunday, November 10, 2019, 6pm PST
Quick Bite:
The Gauchos travel down the 101 to Pauley Pavillion to take on the UCLA Bruins in Game 2 of the Mick Cronin era.  While they will have a lot of new players and a new system, the Bruins are oozing with talent with 5* players Tiger and Oneal. The Gauchos counter with experience, talent of their own and continuity as they enter year 3 of the Pasternack era.  Should provide for a competitive and intriguing game.

By the Numbers                                                              
ucla.jpg (8.27KiB)
UCSB logo small.png (7.12KiB)
Preseason Conference
Pick (range)
6th -8th 1st to 2nd
CBS Preseason Rank 80 162
SI Preseason Rank 67 137
2018-19 Record 17-16 22-10
      Home/away vs D1 13-5 (home) 8-5 (away)
 National Rankings (2018-19)
Composite: DCI 1&2, BPI, SOR, KP, Massey,
NET, RPI, Sagarin
107 162
NET 125 164
SOS 72 339
Efficiency Rankings (Pomeroy)    
                     Offense 88 160
                     Defense 92 208
Scoring 78.2 73.4
FG% 45.7 45.4
3Pt % 35.5 34.3
FT% 63.3 71.6
PPG Allowed 77.5 66.1
FG % Defense 42.4 42.6
3Pt % Defense 34.7
Rebounding Margin +4.2 +6.6
UCSB All-time record vs. Bruins:  1-20
Last game (2016):  UCLA 102 UCSB 62
The teams first played in 1946 with the Bruins setting the tone for the series, winning 32-18.  The last time the Bruins played in Santa Barbara was in 1964 as the defending national champions and they walloped the Gauchos by 31.  Of note, UCSB never faced the Bruins in their glory years under Pimm.  Under Bob Williams, the games were usually competitive, including the Gauchos lone victory 61-60 in 2003, Ben Howland’s first year coaching the Bruins.  The one exception was 2016, in Bob’s last season which was beset by suspensions & injuries. The Bruins have won 2 straight in the series.  It will be Pasternak’s first time facing UCLA as a HC though he is familiar with the Bruins from his time at Arizona.

The Arena: Pauley Pavillion opened in 1965 and underwent a $136M renovation in 2012.  Capacity is 13,800, attendance last year was 8,269 per game.
During Wooden’s run of 8 championships while playing at Pauley (he hung two banners before it opened) he posted a home record of 149-2. The longest home winning streak was 98 games.

Head Coach:  Mick Cronin will be coaching his second game for UCLA after winning his debut vs. Long Beach on Wednesday. The 48 year old coach has been a HC since 2003 and has more wins (365) than any other active coach under 50.  His first three seasons were at Murray State where he took the Racers to the Big Dance twice.  He moved to Cincinnati in 2006 and took the Bearcats to the NCAAs 9 consecutive years before taking the UCLA job.  Biggest knock on Cronin has been his inability to get out of the second round in the tournament, making it only as far as the Sweet 16 just once.  His teams are known for their discipline & defense and concerns in Westwood around his hire is that his extremely slow pace won’t provide the entertainment value Bruin fans want.
Roster & Game 1 Summary
The Bruins lost three players who left early to go pro although only Kris Wilkes was drafted.  They do still return three players who started a fair of games plus have two highly rated recruits in Tyger Campbell and Shareef O’Neal who both sat out last year due to injuries. Tyger is starting while O’Neal has a small role off the bench. Nearly every player on the roster was a top 100 recruit coming out of HS, and this year, they are all healthy.

UCLA trailed the majority of their opening game vs. Long Beach before getting their first lead of the 2nd half with just a little over 2 minutes to play and going on to win 69-65.  A surprise that it was so close given that LB lost 85% of its production from last year.  Campbell led the way with 15 pts and 5 assists in 37m of play.  Three other players hit double figures in points, Cody Riley with 14, Chris Smith with 13 and Prince Ali with 10. 

Possible Starters.
Point Guard Tyger Campbell #5  5’11” 185 lbs, RS Freshman Missed last season due to a torn ACL.  4* recruit.  Shot 42% from deep in HS and boasted an outstanding 3:1 A/TO ratio.  Alford pointed to his injury being the biggest hit to the Bruins last year.  Will likely be the starting PG but Cronin wants to bring him along slowly.
Guard Prince Ali  #23 6’4”, 195 lb, RS Senior, Leading player in minutes played. There is a chance that he gets moved to a sixth man role once the season enters conference play if his production doesn’t improve, but for now, he’s the most experienced player on this UCLA roster. Ali is a defensive-minded guard, averaging 1.3 steals per game last year, but has struggled at times offensively. Averaged 9.8 ppg, shot 34% from deep.   Had a sprained ankle from practice and started slow vs LB but hit some key shots down the stretch.
Wing Chris Smith  #5  6’9”, 210 lb, Junior Started 12 games last year, averaging 6.3 ppg and 3.7 rpg.  Leading returner for assists.  Smith stands 6-foot-9 but plays as more of a guard which makes him a tough matchup for opponents.  Is excellent on defense.
Forward Cody Riley  #2   6’9”, 250 lb RS Sophomore 5.5 ppg, 4.1 rpb. Top 50 recruit
Forward Alex Olisinski  #0  6’10”, 225 lb, RS Senior Missed half the season with a stress fracture in his foot.  Should have a bigger role this year

Possible Key Reserves:
Guard David Singleton #34  6’4”, 205 lb Sophomore Outstanding three point shooter, made 35-75 in his freshman campaign.  Top 100 recruit. Dealt with injury earlier in the summer and may not be full speed for the UCSB game. Could end up starting later in the season.  Can play pg or wing.
Wing Jules Bernard #3  6’6”, 205 lb.  Sophomore Averaged 7.6 ppg and 3.1 rpg as a freshman in 17 mpg, starting 2 games.  Former HS teammate of Shareef O’Neal. Bernard could be the most intriguing returner for the Bruins. As a freshman, he only played 17.2 minutes but was fifth on the team in scoring with 7.6 points per game on 46.9% shooting. Bernard dropped 20 points against Oregon in February, showing his potential to be a top scorer.  More of a wing than a pg but Cronin wants to bring along Tiger slowly so Bernard may play the point as well, especially until Singleton is 100%.
Forward Shareef O’Neal  #22  6’9”, 205 lb, RS Freshman Sat out last year when a heart defect was discovered.  Was the #1 recruit in the state, originally committed to Arizona but switched to UCLA when the bribery scandal broke.  Son of Shaquile O’Neal.  Would not be surprised to see him as a starter soon, but maybe not for the SB game.
Wing Jaime Jaquez #4   6’6”, 205 lb.  Freshman  top 100 recruit, UCSB had offered him.
Center Jalen Hill  #24  6’10”, 240 lb, RS Sophomore Started 15 games scoring 4.3 ppg on 55% from the field. Team’s leading returning rebounder, 6 per game. 

Match-up & prediction:
One of the reasons Dan Guerro fired Ben Howland back in 2013 was the deliberate, slow pace of play.  So in 2019 he hired Cronin who has always had one of the slowest paced teams in the country.  Snark aside, I feel this is a good hire for UCLA.
With a roster full of players geared for Alford’s high octane offense, it could be a bumpy start for UCLA as they make adjustments a very different style of play.  Of important note, UCLA under Alford and Cincinnati under Cronin, played a similar match-up zone defense.  The Bruins just sucked at it last year under Alford giving up 78 ppg.  They’ll definitely get better on D under Cronin, it’s just a matter of when.  My guess, is that the Bruin practices have 2/3 of the time spent on defense.  The Bruins possess a level of talent unlike any other team UCSB will face all year and Cronin is a tremendous coach, I’ve no doubt that the Bruins are going to be a good team this season, but maybe not in November. The Gauchos have had three years in the Pasternak system and really have only one big question mark and that is at the four, where All Big West Armond Davis has to be replaced.   Otherwise, there’s a lot of continuity for the Gauchos and this year they are healthy from day one.

Both teams had sloppy first halves in their openers before settling down for victories.  UCLA should be executing better in game two but so should the Gauchos who have the talent to compete with a P12 team.

Keys to the game for the Gauchos:
-        Defense execution while keeping Sow out of foul trouble
-        Leverage the penetration skills of Max & Jaquori.  LB’s Hunter was very effective as UCLA’s defense is not yet @ Cronin’s standards yet.  UCSB has more weapons than LB and needs to take advantage.
-        One of the toughest assignments of the year for Ramsey in defending Campbell.  Need to keep him in check

Prediction:  UCLA will play better than they did vs. LB and it should be a very competitive game.  UCLA is favored by 6 and I am going with the upset call as the Gauchos get their second victory ever over the Bruins, 72-69

Official Site:
Hey Guys!
How to Watch:   Pac 12 Network; ... rbara-ucla

UCLA Pre-Season Preview Links: ... or-bruins/ ... art-1-bigs ... rt-2-wings ... oint-guard

UCLA Fun Fact:  The original name of the school was the University of California, Southern Branch.  Think about that for a moment.

No comments: