Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Gaucho Hoops Overview, by Gaucho Freg

Team Overview
UCSB is 6-3 coming off their best win of the season, on the road at UT Arlington, 72-68, where they were 6 point underdogs. This was their fifth straight victory with all but the UTA win over teams ranked well below 200 in the composite computer rankings plus NAIA Menlo; the Gauchos are getting healthy on cupcakes. To their credit, two of the victories were on the road (Bakersfield the other).
Besides the light schedule, a ton of credit to the turnaround lies with the leadership and stellar play of Junior Jaquori McLaughlin.  His decision making, scoring, ability to get to the line and much improved defense are night & day from his first four games.  Mucho the remaining credit goes to the team defense which is vastly improved.  The first four games, which included three losses, the Gauchos gave up 74.5 ppg and in their three losses, they gave up an average of 79 ppg.  In their 5 game winning streak, Gaucho opponents are averaging just 65 ppg.
Shout outs too to Amadou Sow who had his best game of the year vs. UT Arlington.  The Sophomore is maturing and playing smarter and leads the team in scoring and rebounding.  Also to Matt Freeman who has been every bit the perimeter threat he was rumored to be, shooting over 50% from deep and has really stepped into a leadership role as well.  He’s a cocky bastard and I love it.

Outlook for the remainder of the OOC season
The upcoming game at Southern Utah represents the most difficult remaining game on the OOC schedule and the only one that UCSB may not be favored.  The Thunderbirds rank 181 in the composite rankings and are a Top 100 team in KenPom’s defensive efficiency ratings. 
Win or lose, it will probably be a very difficult game.  Two days later, the Gauchos play at Idaho State representing their biggest trap game of the OOC.  The Bengals are not good this year, #287 in the composite rankings but winning on the road, at elevation, with wintry mountainous travel inbetween on a short rest is not easy.
Moving along Candy-Cane Lane, the Gauchos return to home to take on consecutive 300+ teams in Southern and Merrimack.  These should be easy double-digit victories.  After Christmas they travel to Louisiana to take on the rebuilding Cajuns who lost by 25 earlier this year to UCI but managed to lose by just 12 at Arizona State.  That should be another victory for the Gauchos but may not come easy.  They host NAIA Westmont January 2 to close things out.
I’ll go with the Gauchos losing just one more this year to finish their OOC at 11-4 but I’d like to say they’ll go undefeated.

Player Update
Devearl Ramsey#4 PG, RS Junior.  6’0”, 185 lb   5.8 ppg on 27% shooting (17% from deep), 3.4. apg/3.3 TOpg, 3.8 rpg, 30 mpg
No other Gaucho struggled more than Ramsey to start the season. Even now, 9 games into the season, he remains in a massive shooting slump, going just 1-10 from the field vs. UTA.  While a deft ball handler that usually can handle defensive pressure well, his decision making often puts him into situations that limits his options and leads to turnovers.  I’ve called this out before but the higher turnover rate could be due in part to his teammates not doing what their supposed to, something that is not as easy for us fans on the side to make that distinction.
On the positive side, his defense seems to be better than earlier in the year and he seems to possess the speed and strength he had last year (could also be the softer competition) that seemed lacking vs. the P12 teams early in the year.
I might be guilty of wearing rose colored glasses but I am feeling very positive about Ramsey coming back to form soon.  We know his shooting is far better than it has been and when that comes back, the confidence goes up and, probably, better decision making will follow.

JaQuori McLaughlin:  #3 Guard, RS Junior  6’4, 190 lb    13.7  ppg on 49% from the field (33% from deep), 4.1 apg, 1.4 TO pg, 3.7 rpg, 1.1 spg, 33 mpg. 
Much of the blame for the poor defense by the Gauchos vs. UCLA, Rice & OSU lay on Jaquori’s shoulders as he repeatedly got burned by his opponent.  He has since turned that around and has become UCSB’s best player.  His stats speak for themselves but his A/TO ratio may be the one that stands out the most, he is just playing very smart out there.  The Gauchos are on this 5 game winning streak without Heidegger and JRoq is the biggest reason for it.

Brandon Cyrus:  #11  Guard/Wing, RS Junior, 6’5”, 190lb.     6.4 ppg, 3.1 rpg. 25 mpg Shooting 40% from the field and just 18% from deep. In the preseason practices & scrimmages, Cyrus showed to be strong in finishing at the basket and did well defensively but wilted vs. the P12 competition. For a player coming from a major conference, he has played very tight against higher level competition, not producing on offense or performing as a defensive stopper fans hoped he would be.  He missed a couple games due to lower body injuries and since his return has been pretty good again on defense and showing some decent mid-range game.  Still not finishing with as much authority as anticipated and is not shooting well at all from deep.   While I don’t think he’ll ever be an outstanding three point shooter, I do expect his moves to the hoop to improve.  He is not playing to his potential right now.

Matt Freeman:  #2  Forward, GT (Oklahoma) 6‘10”, 220 lb     11.1 ppg, 53% fg (51% from deep), 3.2 rpg
Freeman has been a steady contributor on offense and is now third in scoring with 11 ppg and shooting an outstanding 51% from deep.  While he is a liability on defense, especially vs. more athletic teams, he plays smart and with a ton of confidence.  As mentioned before, he is providing much needed leadership and experience, especially needed in the absence of Heidegger.

Amadou Sow#12  Forward/Center, Sophomore, 6’9”, 235 lb     15.9 ppg on 56% shooting (43% from deep), 8.3 rbg, 1.2 bpg, 27 mpg. Sow struggled a bit and was undersized vs. the P12 teams but has been absolutely terrific vs the rest of the schedule.  To Sow’s credit, he still pulled double digit rebounds vs. the P12 schools, was just limited offensively.   Rumors of him improving his perimeter shot were accurate, he is shooting 43% from deep and is coming off a perfect 3-3 from the field vs. UTA.  Just a sophomore, his decision making, patience and feel for the game are really improving.   Expectations were high for this preseason first team All Big West player and he is certainly meeting them. 

Main Reserves
Sekou Toure:  #0  Guard, Sophomore, 6’5”, 185 lb     4.7 ppg, 4.2 rbg  18 mpg
Forced into spot starter and 6th man roles with the injuries to Heidegger and Cyrus, Toure has played extremely well.  His athleticism is an asset and he has played solid defense.  His game acumen, while still a bit of a handicap, is improving.  He has demonstrated some good finishing skills of late, with a nice Euro-step in his tool chest. His three point shot has been terrible (0-5) and the coaches have slapped the red light on that shot.  Something for him to work on but overall the future is bright for this sophomore.

Robinson Idehen:  #35  Center, Junior, 6’10”, 230 lb    4.4 ppg, 3.7 rpg. 12 mpg  
While he is the biggest and strongest guy on the roster, he frequently gets lost on defense and makes silly fouls trying to get caught up.  He’s been efficient on offense and has a couple nice moves to the hoop in his repertoire but his numbers have dipped a bit since the start of the season.  Still has a lot of work to do on his defense to stay out of foul trouble and make stops and if he can get that fixed, he should see his minutes bump up.  I still think that he paired with Sow can be a tough matchup for Gaucho opponents, I think its on Idehen to get better defensively so the coaches want to throw that out there. 

Jay Nagle#5  Forward, Sophomore.  6’9”, 210 lb    3 ppg, 41% from three, 12 mpg. 
A similar player to Freeman but does not have the have the same confidence that Freeman has.  Despite having grown an inch since his freshman campaign Nagle is averaging just one rebound per game and is shooting a lower % inside the arc than outside it.   Needs to get stronger as he has trouble on defense too.  On the positive side, has a nice feel for the game and plays smart within the system as demonstrated by a 2.3 A/TO ratio. 

Roberto Gittens#1  Guard, JC transfer Junior, 6’5”, 220 lb  2 ppg, 1 rpg, 8 mpg 
Has played just 7 games in spot play.  Decent shooting form but a little sluggish on the floor.  Would be great to see how a super fit Gittens would look out there but doesn’t look like we’ll see that this season. 

Max Heidegger#21 Guard, Senior. 6‘3”, 180 lb    14 ppg, 50% FG, 30% from three, 81%FTs, 3 apg, 31 mpg.  Max started out on fire this season but had taken a more passive, faciliatory role his last three games before getting a concussion at the end of the Portland State game.  He’s missed three games and there is no public timetable for his return.  With this being the second season in a row dealing with a concussion, it would not surprise me if we don’t see him til the new year as the priority has to be that he's in the clear.  Get better Max, its a joy watching you play.

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