Thursday, November 10, 2022

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 

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