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.
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
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.
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.