Coach Joe Pasternack ("JP"): The schedule just came out yesterday. We've got Wazzou, APB, UTA, Pepperdine, St. Mary's, UOP, Idaho St., among others. No one wants to change planes and go to Pullman, when they can get a direct flight to the other PAC 12 schools. We wanted to play PAC 12 schools--any of them, and Washington St. was the only one who agreed to play us. We were willing to fly to Washington, Arizona, Cal, etc. or drive to USC, UCLA, and none of them wanted to play UCSB.
We believe WSU will finish in the Top 5 of the PAC 12 Conference, and will be an NCAA contender. WSU will be a good team.
We were more willing to play PAC 12 teams than ACC teams for time zone reasons, but also east coast teams didn't want to pay us $80,000 and then possibly lose to us.
GH: How is scheduling different at UCSB than it was when you were at Arizona?
JP: Every player who plays at Arizona believes they are destined for the NBA. But that's not how it works. You don't choose the NBA. The NBA chooses you. Scheduling is very much the same. We don't get to choose who we play. They have to want to play us too. I don't choose our schedule. With Wazzou, we have to take a two hour bus ride, and then get on two different plans to go to Pullman. No teams want to do that. But they were the only PAC 12 who wanted to play us.
It's like a marriage. Both sides have to agree. We're not ducking anybody. [emphasis mine]
When I was at Cal, it was a similar situation. St. Mary's would always want to play us. But for Cal, it was a lose/lose situation.
GH: Let's talk about specific games.
JP: I believe SMC could be a top 25 team this season, one of the best in the west, second to Gonzaga in the WCC. Pepperdine was 2nd or 3rd last year. UOP has been good the past two years. We will have a home-and-home with Pepperdine every year, something that hasn't happened previously. So that's three WCC programs.
We tried to get into MTEs. For whatever reasons, we didn't get invited.
GH: Let's talk about home games at the Thunderdome.
JP: Home games are important. UTA, Idaho St., are return games and already scheduled. The nonconference teams' style of play will prepare us for Big West league play.
Here's a most important point: Jeff Henley donated $3 million to put chairback seats into the Thunderdome. The best teams in the west--Gonzaga and SDSU, when they play visiting teams and rivals--it doesn't matter who they play. Their homecourt fans will cheer for their own teams. That's how it works for good teams.
UCSB was one of 4 NCAA teams from California. We will be good again. We need to create that same homecourt atmosphere. The question is can we fill up the Thunderdome every night no matter who we play? We can't get PAC 12 teams to come to the Thunderdome.
GH: Is the bus ride from LA an obstacle?
JP: That's a good question. The two hour bus ride from LA is an obstacle for visiting teams. By the way, UCLA is playing Bakersfield who lost all their players, Cal Poly, and Long Beach. UCLA is not playing UCI or UCSB.
GH: How are ticket sales going?
JP: Season tickets are going fast. From what I'm hearing, we have seen the most demand we've ever had for season tickets, not just during my time here, but ever in program history. This is for season tickets, not student tickets.
The take away message: don't wait until November. Get season tickets now. We want to sell out season tickets.
GH: Thanks for the update Coach Pasternack. We can talk about the players and do a season preview next time.
JP: Thank you. I'm an open book. Fans can reach me if they want to talk about UCSB basketball.