Wednesday, November 23, 2022

North Alabama at UCSB Game Preview, by gauchodan

Game 5
North Alabama at UCSB
Wednesday, November 23, 2022, 7:00 pm PST
Santa Barbara, Calif.

Quick Bite
The Gauchos (3-1) wrap up the Santa Barbara Beach Classic MTE with a de facto championship game against North Alabama (4-1) of the ASUN Conference.  The Lions are the first Gaucho opponent to have wins vs. Division I competition -- albeit at Alabama A&M (84-76) and yesterday vs. Hampton (75-74).  UNA has also lost at Mississippi Valley State (68-76), so this team hasn't exactly faced murderer's row.  In fact, the two teams are tied for dead last in the NCAA (360th, with two other teams) in the old RPI SOS metric.

UCSB-North Alabama History
The two squads have never played.

The Arena
In conjunction with the three games of the Santa Barbara Beach Classic, UC Santa Barbara is hosting a food drive in partnership with the Food Bank of Santa Barbara County.  Any fans that bring a canned food item will get free admission to the games. 

Head Coach
Tony Pujol
overall/North Alabama: 43-70 (.381) 
Pujol is in his 5th season at North Alabama, leading the team through a four-year transition to Division I.  Pujol has been an assistant at Appalachian State, VCU, Alabama and Wyoming.

Roster & Overview of the Lions
In lieu of a detailed breakdown of the Lions, I am once again stealing liberally from the UCSB website preview:

Daniel Ortiz is a dominant force from beyond the arc not just in the ASUN, but in the NCAA. The sophomore guard from Shreveport, Louisiana is seventh in the NCAA in three-pointers made per game with 4.00 while ranking 10th in the nation in three-point field goals made with 16. With these numbers, he is by far the team's biggest offensive threat with 72 points already this season.

The next two closest players to Ortiz in points are junior Damian Forrest and sophomore Will Soucie. These two each have 42 points so far this season. Forrest, a transfer from Cleveland State Community College, is second on the team in field goals made with 17 while Soucie, a native of New Jersey, only has 15 field goals. However, he makes those points up at the free throw line, where he has made 12 of 14.

Forrest is not only an offensive force for the Lions, but he is the biggest defensive contributor as well. The 6-10 forward currently leads the team in rebounds 27, grabbing nine on offense and 18 on defense.

Freshman Jacari Lane comes off the bench each game and makes his impact on the offense. The Huntsville, Alabama native leads the team in assists with 14. KJ Johnson, a junior transfer from Lipscomb, also makes his impact on the team as he has 12 assists.  Lane converted two three-point plays in the final 11 seconds of yesterday's game to rally UNA to the one-point win.

Matchup/keys to the game
North Alabama is 4th in the nation in field goal percentage at 54.1%, 3rd in effective field goal percentage at 62.0%, 13th in 3-point percentage at 42.4%, 11th in scoring offense at 90 points per game and 23rd in rebounding margin at +11.0 per game.  They also rank in the top half in nearly every defensive category.  The Lions will not be easy to tame.

UCSB trails North Alabama in nearly every statistical category.  UCSB will need to play optimally in order to neutralize UNA's proficiency on both sides of the ball.

In my opinion, UCSB has not been close to playing up to its potential.  Hampton hung around the other day and had the UCSB lead under double digits late in the game.  But I'm going to be optimistic that UCSB will click on all cylinders at some point.  No time is better than the present.  UCSB 77, North Alabama 56.

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Monday, November 21, 2022

Hampton vs UCSB Game Preview, by gauchodan

Game 4
Hampton at UCSB
Monday, November 21, 2021, 6:00 pm PST
Santa Barbara, Calif.

Quick Bite
The Gauchos (2-1) come home to lick their wounds after a shocking loss at lowly Northern Arizona.  UCSB's next two games are part of the long-awaited Santa Barbara Beach Classic, an MTE that gives each involved team two free games against the NCAA scheduling limit.  Hampton (1-2), an HBCU that began the mass-exodus out of the MEAC in 2018, is now a member of the Colonial Athletic Association.   Hampton's one win is against Regent (Va.).  They lost 106-58 at James Madison and 82-73 at East Carolina.

UCSB-Hampton History
The two squads have never played.

The Arena
In conjunction with the three games of the Santa Barbara Beach Classic, UC Santa Barbara is hosting a food drive in partnership with the Food Bank of Santa Barbara County.  Any fans that bring a canned food item will get free admission to any of the games. 

Head Coach
Edward Joyner, Jr.
overall/Hampton: 32-56 (.364) 
Head Coach Edward Joyner, Jr., is in his 14th season with Hampton University. He has been through three conferences and boasts a 207-211 record since stepping in for the 2009-10 season. 

Roster & Overview of the Bulldogs
In lieu of a detailed breakdown of the Pirates, I am stealing liberally from the UCSB website preview:

The Pirates have been fouled a lot this year.  With the number of attempts this team has taken throughout the year, they rank 36th in the NCAA with 24.7 attempts per game.  Despite the number of free throw opportunities, they only have a .622 free throw percentage.

Jordan Nesbitt is one of the most impactful playmakers in the Colonial Athletic Association and the NCAA.  The transfer from Saint Louis University ranks 40th in the NCAA and No. 1 in the CAA in assists per game, averaging 5.7.

Marquis Godwin has been the biggest contributor on offense for the Pirates.  The senior guard currently leads the team in scoring with 43 points.  Fellow senior guard Russell Dean follows up close behind him with 39.  Godwin is also the team's best three-point shooter, going 8 for 20 from with a .400 three-point field goal percentage.

Sophomore Nesbitt not only leads the team in assists, racking up 17 so far, but he's also third on the team in field goals with 10.  This follows up his 8.2 points per game with the Billikens in the Atlantic 10 Conference last season.

Five Pirates have double-digit rebounds at this point in the season with freshman Kyrese Mullen leading the way.  The freshman who comes off the bench and has only played 69 minutes has 19 rebounds to start his freshman season. 

Matchup/keys to the game
The news that Hampton gets fouled a lot should scare us.  This team has not proven it can consistently stop speedy guards penetrating the man-to-man defense.  In light of the loss in Flagstaff, this group cannot look past anyone.  Depth needs to be developed over the remainder of the non-conference season.

I'm operating on the theory that players are pissed and ready to take it out on someone.  UCSB 77, Hampton 57 

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Men's Basketball Hosts 2022 Santa Barbara Beach Classic

Thursday, November 17, 2022

UCSB vs Northern Arizona Game Preview, by gauchodan

Game 3
UCSB at Northern Arizona
Friday, November 18, 2021, 6:00 pm PST
Flagstaff, Ariz.

Quick Bite
After a week off, the Gauchos (2-0) begin a stretch of three games in six days with a game at one of Ben Howland's former employers, Northern Arizona (1-3).  That was about the last time the Lumberjacks were relevant.  Howland took the 1997-98 squad to the NCAA Tournament, and NAU returned two years later.  Northern Arizona did reach the championship game of the 2015 CIT.  Last season, NAU was 9-23 (5-15 in the Big Sky).  The Lumberjacks were picked to finish 7th/8th in the Big Sky in 2022-23 by the coaches/media.

UCSB-NAU History
UCSB All-time record vs. NAU:  2-1

  • Dec. 6, 1975: W 93-84 at Anteater Classic (one of the two seasons UCSB was an Independent)
  • Dec. 23, 1980: L 49-50 at UCSB
  • Dec. 30, 1981: W 78-70 (OT) at NAU

The Arena
Joseph C. Rolle Activity Center is used by the NAU men's and women's basketball teams as a practice facility and home arena for early-season games when the NAU football team is still competing and using the J. Lawrence Walkup Skydome.  It is primarily used for the volleyball team.  Capacity is 1,210.

Head Coach
Shane Burcar
overall/NAU: 32-56 (.364) 
Burcar was named the 26th head coach in program history on March 25, 2020 after serving as the interim coach of the Northern Arizona men's basketball program since June 2019. Burcar initially joined the NAU men's basketball coaching staff on April 10, 2018 as an assistant coach.  Burcar arrived in Flagstaff after a highly successful 12-year tenure as the head coach at Mesa High School in Mesa, Ariz.  During his time at Mesa High School, Burcar guided the Jackrabbits to a 277-110 record highlighted by winning the 2016 Arizona DI State Championship. His Mesa teams won seven regular season region championships, qualified for the state tournament on 10 occasions and made two Final Four appearances.

Roster & Overview of the Bulldogs
All five starters return for the Lumberjacks, but that's about it.  Ten newcomers, including seven true freshman, join the squad.  In fact, some of those former starters are taking a seat to incoming transfers.

Probable Starters
Jalen Cone, #15, 5'11", 175 lbs, Junior, Walkertown, N.C.
11.3 ppg,  5.5 rpg,  3.0 apg, 33.0 mpg
FG = .356,  3FG = .321,  FT = .667,  3FG/FG ratio = .622,  A/TO = 1.50
The junior enters the year following an All-Big Sky Third Team honor for his debut as a Lumberjack.  Averaging 18.8 points, 3.0 rebounds and 3.6 assists last season, Cone ranked 32nd in the NCAA with 93 three-pointers made which tied for fifth for a single season in school history.  Finished 2021-22 third in points per game, fourth in three-point percentage, ninth in assists per game and ninth in field-goal percentage among the conference.  Scored 20 points, grabbed 10 rebounds and handed out 4 assists at Michigan State on 8-of-19 shooting, including 4-of-10 from three.

Liam Lloyd, #21, 6'5", 190 lbs, Sophomore, Spokane, Wash.
12.3 ppg,  2.3 rpg,  1.5 apg, 30.5 mpg,  A/TO = 1.00
FG = .378,  3FG = .280,  FT = .667,  3FG/FG ratio = .556
Spent two seasons in Phoenix with Grand Canyon.  Last season, he played 172 minutes across 30 games.  Lloyd averaged 23 points, six assists and six rebounds a game as a senior at Gonzaga Prep School in Spokane.

Xavier Fuller, #02, 6'5", 180 lbs, Graduate, Mesa, Ariz.
5.3 ppg,  1.8 rpg,  0.5 apg, 22.0 mpg
FG = .286,  3FG = .000,  FT = .833,  3FG/FG ratio = .214,  A/TO = 0.50
spent his high school career at Mesa under Burcar where he was an All-6A Conference East Valley Region First Team honoree as a senior before heading to Scottsdale Community College.  An All-American during his sophomore season, Fuller averaged 22.7 points, 10.9 rebounds and 2.7 assists before joining South Dakota for the past two years.

Carson Towt, #33, 6'7", 235 lbs, Redshirt Sophomore, Gilbert, Ariz.
8.8 ppg,  10.8 rpg,  3.3 apg, 27.5 mpg
FG = .471,  3FG = n/a,  FT = .500,  3FG/FG ratio = .000,  A/TO = 1.86
Currently 5th in the nation in offensive rebounds per game (5.5).  In 2021-22, he averaged 8.4 points, 8.8 rebounds and an impressive 3.7 assists while also starting all 32 games inside the paint.  Towt's rebounding average finished second in the Big Sky while his assists per game ranked seventh.

Nik Mains, #20, 6'8", 215 lbs, Redshirt Senior, Scottsdale, Ariz.
7.3 ppg,  4.0 rpg,  1.3 apg, 25.0 mpg
FG = .370,  3FG = .357,  FT = 1.000,  3FG/FG ratio = .519,  A/TO = 1.67
Hitting 40.1 percent from outside, Mains made 75 three-pointers in the 2021-22 season while starting all 32 games for the Lumberjacks.  Adding in a career high 5.1 rebounds per game with his 11.5 points, Mains made the leap to a more complete player last season while averaging the 10th-most minutes per game in the Big Sky.

Key Reserves
Ezekiel Richards, #23, 6'10", 240 lbs, Redshirt Junior, Oak Park, Calif.
4.3 ppg,  0.7 rpg,  0.0 apg, 9.7 mpg
FG = .800,  3FG = n/a,  FT = 1.000,  3FG/FG ratio = .000,  A/TO = 0.00 (4 turnovers)
appeared in 46 games across 3 season with Santa Clara.  Did not play vs. Benedictine at Mesa

Trent McLaughlin, #24, 6'6", 200 lbs, Sophomore, Chander, Ariz.
2.5 ppg,  1.5 rpg,  0.8 apg, 9.5 mpg
FG = .333,  3FG = .143,  FT = .750,  3FG/FG ratio = .778,  A/TO = infinity (3 assists)
Returns to his home state after 31 games for Central Connecticut, averaging 5.8 points and 2.7 rebounds in 21.1 minutes for the Blue Devils.

Oakland Fort, #04, 5'10", 170 lbs, Freshman, Phoenix, Ariz.
7.5 ppg,  1.3 rpg,  3.0 apg, 14.5 mpg
FG = .556,  3FG = .600,  FT = .667,  3FG/FG ratio = .556,  A/TO = 3.00
Sparkplug off the bench.

Jack Wistrcill, #10, 6'8", 225 lbs, Freshman, Salt Lake City, Utah
6.3 ppg,  4.5 rpg,  1.3 apg, 16.0 mpg
FG = .474,  3FG = .600,  FT = 1.000,  3FG/FG ratio = .263,  A/TO = 5.00
Came off the bench to score 14 points and pull down 6 rebounds at Utah Valley, shooting 5-of-9 from the field (2-of-3 from three).

Keith Haymon, #13, 6'7", 195 lbs, Redshirt Junior, Cypress, Texas
6.8 ppg,  1.5 rpg,  1.3 apg, 10.3 mpg
FG = .391,  3FG = .333,  FT = .600,  3FG/FG ratio = .783,  A/TO = 1.67
averaged 9.8 points per game while hitting 36.2 percent from outside himself. 

Diego Campisano, #12, 6'5", 210 lbs, Redshirt Freshman, San Diego, Calif.
3.3 ppg,  0.8 rpg,  0.0 apg, 4.5 mpg
FG = .714,  3FG = .500,  FT = .500,  3FG/FG ratio = .286,  A/TO = n/a

UCSB plays at its highest elevation of the season, as Flagstaff sits at about 7,200 feet.  It was 11 degrees this morning at sunrise, and Friday's daytime high is just 45.  The weather will be a good "warmup" for the Gauchos' trip to Pittsburgh after Thanksgiving.  Northern Arizona started the season with buy games at Michigan State and Arizona State and stayed within 20 points in both.  The Lumberjacks are 68th in the country in hitting 3-pointers (9.5 per game on 28.8 attempts).  The team as a whole has an excellent assist/turnover ratio at 1.54 (45th nationally).  All of their defensive numbers are lower than average.  UCSB shouldn't have too much trouble getting its shots.

You know what the attendance was in Santa Cruz?  121.  LOL.  But those 121 saw the Gauchos blossom into their potential.  Andre Kelly posted a double-double and is now 2nd nationally in rebounds per game (14.5) and defensive rebounds per game (10.0).  Ajay Mitchell's shot hasn't been falling but he's been concentrating on other things.  He is 15th in the nation in assists per game (7.0) and 25th in steals per game (3.0).  The return of JPL solidified the perimeter defense which had been a sieve vs. SF State.  UCSB is 36th in scoring defense (56.5 ppg).  Cole Anderson leads the team with 17 points per game, coming off the bench vs. Fresno State to hit three huge 3-pointers to fuel the victory.

This game will be my first game attended since the 2020-21 NCAA Tournament game vs. Creighton in Indianapolis.  NAU is approximately an hour away from my future home, and I am using the game as an excuse to pay a visit.

Keys to the game for the Gauchos
Prevent penetration.  Run your stuff.  Substitute freely to rest players in the high elevation.

Northern Arizona is going to be no pushover on its home court, but this is one of those games you don't expect to lose.  UCSB 76, Northern Arizona 62 

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Thursday, November 10, 2022

UCSB Uses Big First Half to Defeat Pepperdine in Home Opener

UCSB vs Fresno State Game Preview, by GauchoFreg and gauchodan

Game 2
UCSB vs Fresno State
Friday, November 11, 2021, 2:00 pm PST
Santa Cruz, Calif.
Quick Bite
The Gauchos head up the 101 to Santa Cruz to open their DI season on the road in a neutral-site game in what will be their 100th contest with the Fresno State Bulldogs of the Mountain West.  Fresno State is 1-0 following an opening night 69-62 victory over DII Stanislaus State.

FSU-UCSB History
UCSB All-time record vs. FSU:  53-46
Long-time conference mates in the PCAA and Big West before the Bulldogs jumped to the WAC in 1991, the Gauchos & Bulldogs have played each other 99 times with the first game coming in 1937.   Fresno won both games that 1937-38 season, the first year of Gaucho basketball.   After one more loss the Gauchos then reeled off 8 straight.
Last game:  On February 20, 2010 UCSB went into Fresno and defeated the Paul George led Bulldogs 64-60.   UCSB was led by Orlando Johnson who had 23 points and pulled down a key rebound and hit a pair of free throws to close it out. James Powell added 10 points.
The Gauchos own a two-game win streak with Fresno’s last win coming in 2005 in Fresno.
The Arena
Kaiser Permanente Arena in Santa Cruz is the home of the Warriors G-League team and the D2 UC Santa Cruz hoops teams.   It was built in 2012 and seats 2,505. 

Head Coach
Justin Hutson enters his fifth season with the Bulldogs which is his first D1 head coaching gig.  He sports an overall record of 69-53 and led Fresno to The Basketball Classic championship last year. In his first season, 2018-19, he led Fresno to a 23-9 record, 3rd in the MWC and earned the Naismith COY award for best first year coach.   He was a long time assistant at SDSU and played two seasons for CSU Bakersfield, winning the DII National Championship both years.

Roster & Overview of the Bulldogs
The Bulldogs have to replace a great one in Orlando Robinson who is now playing for the Sioux Falls Skyforce after failing to make the Miami Heat roster.  The 6’11” center put up 19.4 points (35% from deep), 8.0 rebounds, and 2.8 assists for the Bulldogs.   However they do return the other four starters and remain very experienced across the lineup.   They bring in several solid transfers to add depth to an otherwise inexperienced bench.  

Who starts at Center and attempts to fill the shoes of Orlando Robinson is the biggest question.  Last year, the Bulldogs were one of the best defensive teams in the country and will present an immediate test for Gaucho offensive schemes.

Probable Starters
Isaiah Hill #3, Point Guard, Senior, 6’0”, 165 lb, 10.1 ppg, 3.3 apg, 33 mpg
Team’s leading returning scorer and leading 3 point shooter (makes).  Led team in assists and steals last year.  Scored 22 points and was 5-of-7 from the 3-point line vs. Stanislaus St.
Isaih Moore #11, Forward, GT, 6’10”, 197 lb 
Another player on his fourth stop.  Previous were Southern Miss, St. Johns and College of Charleston.  Scored 17 and added 7 rebounds vs. Stanislaus.  

Jamarl Baker #1, Guard, GT, 6’5”, 185 lb 
Previous stops at Kentucky and Arizona.  Was a starter at UA before getting injured in the 20-21 season, averaging 12 ppg, 1.9 apg and 3 rpg.  DNP last year.   Good defender.  Missed all 5 of his 3-point attempts in the season opener.
Anthony Holland #25, Wing, Senior, 6’5”, 225 lb, 9.6 ppg, 6.2 rpg, 34 mpg
Led team in getting to the line, 81% from the stripe.  Excellent from deep, 44%, second on the team in 3pt makes.  Grabbed 9 rebounds in the first game.

Jordan Campbell, #5, Guard, Senior, 6’4”, 195 lb, 7.1 ppg, 3.1 rpg, 23 mpg
Was 0-for-5 from field, scoring no points, while handing out 3 assists vs. Stanislaus St. 
Probable Key Reserves 
Donovan Yap #0, Guard, Junior, 6’5”, 185, 2.3 ppg, 10 mpg
Was Fresno's best player off the bench last game, hitting 5-of-6 shots and dishing out 6 assists in 27 minutes.  May get the start over Campbell.

Destin Whitaker #22, Guard, Junior, 6’5”, 185 lb, 3.2 ppg, 14 mpg
Three point sniper, making 24-50 last year.  He was 1-of-2 from three vs. Stanislaus.
Eduardo Andre #35, Center, Junior, 6’11”, 236 lb, 3.1 ppg, 3.1 rpg
Transfer from Nebraska; stats are from NU.  Played all 30 games.  From London

Leo Colimerio #23, Wing, Junior, 6’7”, 190 lbs, 5.3 ppg, 4.8 rpg
4 points, 4 rebounds in first game.
Jordan Brinson #12, Guard, Senior 6’3”, 175 lb 
Making his fourth stop; previously at UAB, Utah Valley and Salt Lake CC which was his most recent stop.  DNP in first game.
Chuks Isitua #15, Center, Sophomore, 6’11”, 220 lb, 5.6 ppg, 4.6 rpg
Transfer from IUPUI.  From Nigeria.  DNP in first game.
Joseph Hunter #14, Guard, Freshman, 6’5”, 185 lb 
Local 4* recruit.
Match-up & prediction
This figures to be one of the tougher games of the entire season.  Fresno State flirted with an at-large bid in 2020-21 but settled for a bid to The Basketball Classic.  The Bulldogs struggled with Stanislaus State, and even trailed the DII Warriors 40-37 with 12:49 remaining.  Stanislaus shot 60% in the 2nd half, including 8-of-14 (57%) from three.  UCSB was in a similar situation, although ultimately they led wire-to-wire in disposing of the SF State Gators.  UCSB really struggled with preventing guard penetration, although missing JPL, Sanni and Harvey probably contributed to the situation.  Supposedly they are all close to returning.

Keys to the game for the Gauchos
Prevent penetration.  Hit threes.  Get the inside game working.  Rebound.  In other words, all of the things that were mediocre in Game #1.

Each team has something to prove after so-so performances in their season openers.  Fresno is adjusting to life after Orlando Robinson, while UCSB is adjusting to life after Amadou Sow.  I like UCSB in the long run (like by March), but for now I will make the pessimistic prediction and hope to be pleasantly surprised.  Fresno State 68, UC Santa Barbara 62