Wednesday, December 22, 2021

Idaho St. vs UCSB Game Preview, by Gaucho Freg

UCSB (4-4)* vs. Idaho St. (0-8)*
*D1 games only
Wednesday, December 22, 2021, 1 pm
Quick Bite:  UCSB finishes off its out of conference slate with a matinee vs. the  winless (D1) Bengals out of the Big Sky.
Idaho State-UCSB History
UCSB leads the series 5-2.  Their first meeting was in 1971 in Rob Gym with the Gauchos prevailing 84-71.  UCSB won the last game, played in Pocatello in 2019, in OT 74-68.  Devearl Ramsey led a frantic comeback win as the Gauchos overcame an 8 point deficit with 1:19 left in regulation.  UCSB has won two in a row in the series (they also played in 2018 in SB) and Idaho won the previous game, played in Idaho in 1978.

Head Coach:  Ryan Looney is in his third season at the helm of the Bengals.  His record stands at 23-41.  Looney had tremendous success at the D2 level, taking Pt Loma to the championship game in his last year and making the post season every year as a HC except for his first season at Pt. Loma.  Prior to his last 3 years at Pt. Loma, he was at Seattle Pacific for 7, taking them to the Sweet 16 twice.  Before Seattle Pacific he coached NAIA Eastern Oregon for five years, taking them to the 2nd round and Elite 8 in his last two years there. With his Pacific NW background, he’s seemingly a great fit for the Bengals but has yet to find success.

Bengals Overview
Despite returning all of their starters from the previous season the Bengals have struggled mightily this year, losing their 8 D1 games by an average of 14 points including by 17 in road games, staying within single digits just three games.  They sit way down at 354 in NET and 307 in Kenpom, rating similarly anemic in offense and defense. They turn the ball over a lot and have a 0.7 ATO.  They are getting outrebounded by 3 per game.  Most of their offense comes out of their backcourt with their top three scorers the three starting guards.
Probable Starters
Guard Tarik Cool  #2 6’2”, 190 lb, JC Transfer Senior.  10.8 ppg, 2.4 apg, 2.7 rpg, 33 mpg
Just 9 of 36 from deep. Leads team in assists but a poor ATO ratio of less than 1. 

Guard Robert Ford  #20  6’0”, 180 lb, Junior  10.9 ppg, 4.6 rpg. 40% from deep, 84% from the line 29 mpg.  Leads team in scoring, 3pt makes and made free throws. Did not play in last game.

Guard Austin Smellie  #5  6’5”, 185 lb, Sophomore  8.2 ppg, 3.8 rpg. 39% from deep, 19 mpg.

Forward Daxton Carr  #13, 6’7”, 215 lb, Sophomore  4.1 ppg, 3.1 rpg, 24 mpg
Started his career at Cal Poly
Center Brayden Parker #25  6’8”, 250 lb, RS Sophomore– 8.1 ppg, 2.9 rpg, 22 mpg. 
Leads team in getting to the line, 58%
Probable Key Reserves
Forward – Malik Porter #3  6’5”, 215 lb, JC Transfer Senior.  6.3 ppg, 3.1 rpg, 13 mpg
Gets to the line well in limited minutes but just 45% there. Started 3 games.
Forward Jared Rodriguez  #22, 6’8”, 215 lb, Junior  4.7 ppg, 2.5 rpg, 13 mpg
Started vs. one game, vs. Bethesda going for 24 points, including 6-11 from deep.

Center – Zach Visentin #32  6’9”, 260 lb, Sophomore  3.6 ppg, 1.5 rpg, 11 mpg
Has started 3 games.
Guard Emmett Taylor, #4, 6’4”, 200 lb, Junior 4.2 ppg  6 mpg
Has played just 6 games, is a three point threat, 41% from deep.
Guard Liam Sorenson, #1, 6’4”, 200 lb, Sophomore
Has played 8 games, 13 assists on the season.  From Denmark
Match-up & prediction:
Despite their own struggles, this should be a double-digit victory for the Gauchos in their final tune-up before conference play.  Given the much better than expected performance of the UCSD Tritons, it would be nice to see the Gauchos put together a solid 40 minutes and have some momentum going into the Big West season with a New Years Day matchup against UC Irvine looming.
Things to watch:
·        UCSB shot a dismal 20% from beyond the arc vs. Florida A&M and are just 31% on the season. The biggest drop-off has been by Miles Norris but Ajare Sanni is struggling too.  While the offense will and should continue to run through Sow, getting untracked outside would bring some punch.
·        Norris is no where near his potential. Its hard to say why but it seems to be more between the ears than any physical ailment.  At the four he has former Cal Poly forward Daxton Carr guarding him.  Perhaps some familiarity will help him find his form. 
·        On defense UCSB has dropped about a hundred points in Kenpom defensive efficiency from last year and are giving up nearly 70 points per game against a schedule ranked 306.  If they are going to compete for the Big West title, as most predicted they would, improvement on the defensive front needs to start now.
Prediction:  UCSB 75  ISU 61
Official Site:
Hey Guys! ... nversation
How to Watch: ESPN+
ISU Season Preview and Game Preview Links: ... 22-preview
Fun facts about ISU
Bengals basketball had some success in the 1950s lodging four victories in the NCAAs, which then, with just a 32 team field, placed them into the Sweet 16 each year.  In 1977 the Bengals defeated Long Beach then UCLA to advance to the Elite 8.  The Long Beach game was held in their home arena.  The school was founded in 1901 as the Academy of Idaho, undergoing four name & status changes before its current iteration in 1963.  Their first football coach came from Princeton in the 1920s and graced the school with the Princeton colors and mascot (Bengals aka Tigers).

No comments: