Saturday, November 13, 2021

UCSB vs Washington State Game Preview, by Gaucho Freg

UCSB @ Washington State
Monday, November 15, 2021, 8 pm PST
Quick Bite:  The Gauchos open their D1 season on the road Pullman to take on the Washington State Cougars of the Pac 12 who sit at 2-0 after easy wins over Alcorn St and Seattle U.

WSU-UCSB History
All-time record vs. WSU:  2-1
Last game:  At the Thunderdome in 2014, the Gauchos, behind Zalmico Harmon’s 17 pts and Big Al’s 12 boards, walloped the Cougars 71-43.  The first game played between the two schools was won by the Cougars in Pullman, 80-69, in 1984. The Gauchos won the return game the following year in Santa Barbara, 73-70.
The Arena:
Beasley Coliseum was built in 1973 and seats 12,058.  Friel Court is nearly brand new, installed in 2020. In 2019 (pre-pandemic and during a very poor season, the Cougars averaged about 3,100 fans and this year they are averaging 3,225.  UCSB is their toughest OOC opponent to visit Pullman this season so they may get a decent turnout but maybe not as it is a Monday.

Head Coach:
Kyle Smith enters his third season with the Cougars after a successful 3 year stint at USF.  While with the Dons he twice faced Pasternack and UCSB with the Gauchos winning both games. He is 32-29 in Pullman. 

Roster & Overview of the Cougars
Coach Smith took a risk in leaving USF for arguably the most difficult job in the Pac 12 but has done a very nice job in getting the Cougars back to a competitive level.  After two seasons where they finished near the bottom of the P12, many are picking the Cougars to finish in the upper half of the P12 this season.  After their first two games against low level teams the Cougars are averaging 82 ppg while giving up 65.  They are outrebounding their opponents by 11 per game and are shooting 46%, 32% from deep.
Although the Cougars lost their leading scorer and assists man in Isaac Bonton to graduation, they return the very productive guard Noah Williams, 14 ppg and 2.7 apg.  They also add a player of interest to Big West fans in 5’11” guard Tyrell Roberts who led UCSD to perhaps their best season in school history when they were the #1 team in D2 before the season was cut short by Covid.  After sitting out last season he hasn’t skipped a beat and is now the leading scorer for the Cougars. They also added guard Michael Flowers, a transfer from South Alabama where he was the #4 scorer in the country last year. Their front court is experienced with two returning starters plus they possess a lot of depth with guys who played significant minutes last year returning.
Probable Starters
Tyrell Roberts #2  Guard, RS Junior, 5’11”, 170
Transfer from UCSD, team’s leading scorer.  where he was considered their best player.  Sat out last year.  Three point specialist, 8-18 for the season.

Michael Flowers  #12 Guard, Senior, 6’1”, 190 lb 
Transfer from S. Alabama where he was the #4 scorer in the country. Hasn’t found his touch yet shooting just 33% from the field, 8ppg.  Grabbed 11 boards and had 6 assists vs. Alcorn St then 0 boards and just 1 assist vs. Seattle.  He is due, just hope that doesn’t happen Monday.
Noah Williams  #24  Guard, Junior, 6’5” 187 lbs   14.5 ppg 5.5 rpg
Leading returning player in most statistical categories.  Williams looks to be a Pac-12 first-teamer this season. In addition to being one of the best scorers in the Pac-12, Williams is a superb defender, leading the conference in steals last season
Mouhamed Gueye  #35  Forward Freshman, 6’10”, 205 lb   10.5 ppg, 2 rpg
Touted freshman from Prolific Prep in Napa (Sow, Toure, Bland).  Had 3 steals in his last game.
Dishon Jackson #21 Center, Sophomore, 6’10”, 235 lb 
13pts and 9 boards in his last game off the bench.  He started the first game. 
Probable Key Reserves
Efe Abogidi #0 F/C Sophomore 6’10”, 225 lb  3 blocks per game
Led team in blocked shots last year.  Will shoot the three, 27%. Good free throw shooter. Had a good game off the bench vs. Alcorn St, but was not a major contributor in his start vs. Seattle.  Could start vs. SB.
TJ Bamba #3  Guard, Sophomore, 6’5”, 208, 10 ppg, 4.5 rpg, 20 mpg
Has been getting to the line, 7-11 on the season. 
Andrej Jakimovski #23 Forward Sophomore 6’8”, 215 lb  4.5 ppg, 6 rpg, 20 mpg
Third on team in 3pt makes last year at 32%.
Jefferson Koulibaly #3  Guard, RS Freshman, 6’3”, 180  9.5 ppg, 19 mpg
Medical RS.  From Canada.
DJ Rodman  #11 Wing, Junior 6’6” 215 lbs 
Playing just 6 mpg this year but averaged 6.1 ppg, 3.7 rpg, 23 mpg 41% from deep last season. 
Injured/Unavailable:  None
Match-up & prediction:
Despite success in scrimmages & a D2 opener, it is a new season and much is unknown about the Gauchos. The biggest question mark is how the guards will defend a high quality backcourt.  JPL is a terrific defender but defense was Sanni’s weak spot last season and Wishart is an unknown to us fans.  Conversely, WSU has looked solid but did not dominate lower level teams.  The Gauchos probably have an advantage in their front court with Sow-Norris-Idehen though the Cougars are by no means weak in the frontcourt.
Keys to the game for the Gauchos
·        Defending the talented Cougar backcourt. These guys can score.  Perhaps underappreciated from last year was how good our guards, especially Ramsey, were on defense.  A huge challenge in our opening D1 game.  If Sanni has improved and Wishart is solid, the Gauchos can limit the Cougar’s strength.
·        Win the battle of attrition and make FTs at the end.  These teams are very well matched.  A missed FT in the closing minute could very well be the difference maker.

Prediction:  A very tough season opener and I see it being close with WSU pulling it out at the end, WSU 76 UCSB 73
Official Site
Hey Guys! ... um-103297/
How to Watch: P12 Network
WSU Season Preview and Game Preview Links: ... rank-2021/ ... -moneyball ... -season/9/
Fun facts about WSU:  WSU was founded in 1890 as a Land Grant University and was originally called Washington State College.  It is located in the far southeastern part of the state near the Idaho border, an agriculture region called the Palouse & characterized by rolling hills.  Known as a party school so there’s that connection.
Athletics history is pretty quiet compared to the other P12 schools.  They have one National Championship, in Indoor Track back in 1977.  In football they’ve won only one Rose Bowl, way back in 1915 and haven’t won the conference since 2002.  In 1917 their basketball team went 25-1 and were retroactively awarded the unofficial national title by the Helms Foundation.  They had a nice run under Tony Bennett from 2006-2008, winning 26 games each year, before he departed for the University of Virginia.

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