Friday, December 13, 2019

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

UCSB @ Southern Utah
Saturday, December 14, 2019, 1 PM PST
Quick Bite:  Gauchos, on a five game winning streak and coming off their best win of the year over UT Arlington in Texas,  travel to the Beehive State to take on the Southern Utah of the Big Sky Conference.

By the Numbers                                  
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UCSB logo small.png (7.12KiB)
Preseason Conference
Pick (range)
3-5th 2nd
CBS Preseason Rank 209 162
SI Preseason Rank 218 137
Record (D1 only) 3-4 5-3
      Home/away vs D1  1-0 (H)  2-2 (A)
 National Rankings
Composite: DCI 1&2, BPI, SOR, KP, Massey,
179 146
SOS 166 278
Efficiency Rankings (Pomeroy)    
                     Offense 274 86
                     Defense 92 254
Scoring 77.9 73.4
FG% 46.5 45.4
3 PT Makes/Attempts 6.2/21 6.4/18.6
3Pt % 30.1 34.3
FT Makes/Attempts 13.7/19.8 15.5/21.7
FT% 69.1 71.6
Defense: PPG Allowed 64.0 66.1
FG % Defense 38.0 42.6
3Pt % Defense 27.4 30.7
Steals PG 8.9 5.0
Blocks PG 3.8 3.3
Rebounding Margin +10.9 +6.6
Assists/Turnovers PG 12.9/16.2 13.5/11.1
Best win (BPI):  @ Nebraska, in OT (160)
Worst Loss (BPI):  @ LMU (215)
Trend: Won 1

SU-UCSB History
UCSB All-time record vs. Thunderbirds:  1-0
Last game (1988):  UCSB 88 SUU 55.  They were then known as SUU State. 
The Arena:  The Thunderbirds play in the Centrum Arena which was built in 1985 and has a capacity of 5,300. Attendance this year averages 2,202.

Head Coach:   Todd Simon has done a solid job for the Thunderbirds showing improvement each year and getting them to the post season (CIT) last year.  2016 was a complete rebuilding job and the team struggled, winning only 6 games.  They more than doubled that in season 2 winning 13 and last year he got to .500 going 17-17, winning two games in the conference tournament and winning a game in the CIT.  Pior to SUU, he was the interim HC for UNLV in 2016, going 8-7.

Roster and overview: SUU is a veteran team returning all of its starters and 6 of its top 7 scorers.  They are predicted to finish in the upper third of the Big Sky.  They’ve played a moderately difficult  schedule, SOS of 166, with middling results, no horrible losses with their best win in OT @ Nebraska.   Coach Todd Simon has done a nice job slowly accumulating talent, and this could finally be the year the Thunderbirds break through and win a conference title.  To their many returning players they add a couple transfers including guard Jakolby Long from Iowa State. Sixth year senior Dwayne Morgan returns with an injury waiver as do Cameron Olutiyan and Harrison Butler allowing for tons of lineup versatility on both ends.
Defensively, SUU is giving up only ~64 ppg and ranks 92 in KP’s defensive efficiency.  They played about 15% zone last season, and Coach Simon’s goal the past few years has been to force opponents to play uncomfortably fast. The T-Birds have ranked 7th, 4th, and 31st in opponent APL in Simon’s three years at the helm. In addition to this “speed you up” philosophy, SUU is lock-down on the defensive glass, ranking 1st in the Big Sky in defensive rebounds% last year and 30th in the country. Morgan’s return improves SUU’s defensive ceiling, as does adding another athlete in Long.
On offense, the Thunderbirds are averaging ~78 ppg but that number is heavily skewed by two 100+ point games vs. lower division teams and they rank only 274 in KP’s offensive efficiency ranking.  Curiously, UCSB & SUU have polar opposite efficiency rankings so on both ends of the court it will be strength vs. strength. 
Probable Starters
Guard – Dre Marin  #4  6’0”, 170 lb, Junior 8.9 ppg, 2.9 rpg, 24 mpg
Led team in assists last year but averaging less than 2 per game this year.
Guard John Knight #3  6’3”, 205 lb, Junior.  12.3 ppg, 3.8 rpg, 23 mpg, 2 apg, 46% from the field.
Tied for team lead in scoring.  Leads team in getting to the line, 33-45 from the stripe. Second on team in assists, not a three point threat, just 1-5 on the year.  Leads team in turnovers (25).  Transfer from USU where he played last year but had immediate eligibility.  Apparently was injured earlier and his role with the team is increasing and Coach Simon is high on what he brings, "John's an aggressive, get to the rim guy," he said. "He's a super athlete, and a unique player that you can use in certain ways, but he can create his own offense off the break and really triggers us to get out and run. He's been a good weapon for us, and as he continues to get healthy we'll be able to take advantage of him more and more."
Wing -  Cameron Oluyitan  #23  6’8”, 195 lb,  RS Senior  11.9 ppg, 5.6 rpg, 2.2 apg. 
Leads team in 3pt attempts & makes (32%), apg, steals and in minutes played.  Only player to start every game.  Excellent FT shooter, 23-26 on the year.
ForwardDwayne Morgan #25  6’8”, 218 lb, RS Senior  12.3 ppg, 4.1 rpg. 25 mpg
Tied for team lead in scoring, excellent three point shooter shooter, 12-22 on the year.  5* out of HS, originally played @ UNLV.  Played just 4 games last year before being lost to injury.  Like former Gaucho Chris Devine, a 6th year senior.  SUU can play through Morgan on the block, and he’s skilled enough to step away from the hoop and shoot or drive around slower defenders. Defensively, Morgan is a solid rim protector and adds to SUU’s already-stout defensive rebounding prowess.
ForwardAndre Adams #32  6’9”, 230 lb, Senior  5.7 ppg, 5.2 rpg, 19 mpg, 61% from the field.
Returning starter, originally played at ASU

Probable Key Reserves
Guard – Harrison Butler  #15  6’5”, 220 lb, Sophomore.  9.3 ppg, 8 rpg, 26 mpg.
Leads the team in rebounding, playing starter minutes and has started 5 games.  Solid 3 point shooter, second on the team in getting to the line but has made just 60% of his 30 attempts. 14 assists to 20 TOs. 
Guard – Jakolby Long  #1  6’5”, 208 lb, RS Junior.  9.9 ppg, 3.3 rpg, 28 mpg, 55% from the field.
Transfer from Iowa State
ForwardMaizen Fausett #12  6’5”, 225 lb, Sophomore.  7.1  ppg, 4.7 rpg, 19 mpg
ForwardJarryd Hoppo #33  6’9”, 186 lb, Freshman  7.2  ppg, 4.7 rpg, 13 mpg
Stellar 3 point shooter, 12-20 for the year.
Guard – Damani Mcintire  #0  6’4”, 179 lb, Freshman.  Good playmaker
Center- Daouda (David) Ndiaye #14  7’0”, 215 lb, RS Senior.  First year for SUU, transfer from Illinois St.

Keys to the game for the Gauchos
·        Sow vs. Morgan.  Two very similar players in size and skills, two bigs that can stretch the defense.  Morgan has the advantage in experience but Sow boasts better numbers and is coming off one of the best games of his career.
·        Game control.  SUU likes to push the place and force 16 turnovers per game (they average the same themselves). This could be a trouble spot for Ramsey if allows him to rush things.  McLaughlin there to provide a steadying force but a strong showing by Ramsey could be a turning point for him this season.
·        Battle of the boards, in particular by the wing players.  SUU rebounds extremely well, +11 per game on the season, with their wings Cameron Oluyitan and Harrison Butler leading the way.  Critical for JRoq, Cyrus and Toure to box their guys out and limit their second chance points, especially considering that Sow will often be pulled out of the block defending Morgan.

Prediction:  Gauchos have the tools to negate the Thunderbird’s strengths of a good (but not huge) post player, pressure defense, skilled wings and rebounding abilities.  Won’t be easy but the win streak continues. 
Gauchos 69 SUU 65

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Fun facts about SUU:   Located in Cedar City, near the underrated ski resort of Brian Head.  It was founded as a Normal (Teaching) school in 1897.  At one time it was an ag school branch of Utah State.  In 1991 it became a full university and joined D1 athletics later in the decade.

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