August 13, 2011

Johnson, Somogyi Meet on Other Side of World

For a box score of Team USA's win over Mexico, click here.  To read Team USA quotes, including those of Orlando Johnson, following their first win, go here.  To watch the video of O.J. leading the U.S. delegation in during the opening ceremonies at the World University Games, click here.

UC Santa Barbara teammates Orlando Johnson and Greg Somogyi will meet half way around the world on Sunday. 

The Gaucho duo will be on opposing sides of the basketball court as Johnson's U.S. team will play Somogyi's Hungarian team on the second day of pool play at the World University Games in Shenzhen, China. 

In Friday's first game, Johnson was in the starting lineup as Team USA exploded after a slow start and walloped the Mexican National Team, 108-67.  The Americans outscored their opponent 65-30 in the second half.  Johnson was one of five players in double-figures, finishing with 10 points.  He also tied for the team-lead with three assists in his 21 minutes.

Somogyi's first foray at the Games was not as successful as Hungary dropped a 67-60 decision to Israel.

August 14 has been a date circled on UCSB head coach Bob Williams' calendar since Johnson made Team USA, assuring that there would be two Gauchos on the court when the U.S. and Hungary meet.

"Having two players playing at a major international competition, really the most important truly amateur competition left, is a real milestone for our program," Williams said.  "I hope that both O.J. and Greg can really grasp how significant this is." 

Before leaving for China, it was clear that Johnson, who was the flag bearer for the U.S. delegation at the opening ceremonies on Thursday, understands the import of having two players from the same college program at the World University Games.

"Man, that's huge for our program," he said.  "It really is a big deal.  I'm so excited for myself, but I'm also excited for Greg.  He can really grow from the experience.  I know I will."

Somogyi was just as thrilled for his teammate.

"I was really happy for Orlando when I heard he made the traveling team," he said.  "It is a great opportunity for him and I don't know a person who deserves it more." 

Williams believes that both players stand to gain in multiple ways from their experience.

"Just being in that setting is something that should help them grow as people as well as players," he said.  "To be among such diversity will give them both an opportunity to see things and experience things they otherwise may never have had the chance to experience."

In Williams' estimation, the opportunity for UCSB to have two players at the World University Games would never have happened if not for the outstanding work and diligence of the Team USA selection committee.

"It is very impressive that the committee kept two mid-major players," Williams said.  "That says a great deal about them.  As a player, all you can ask for is fairness and objectivity in those situations and obviously the committee was very fair."

Johnson is joined on Team USA by Yale's Greg Mangano and 10 players from high-major programs. 

The U.S.-Hungary game will tip-off at 12:30 a.m. (PDT) and Williams can't wait to look at a box score.

"If there is a way to watch the game, I will," he said.  "Either way, I am definitely looking forward to looking at the stats Sunday morning."

He and a whole bunch of Gaucho fans.

UCSB fans will be able to purchase season tickets for the 2011-12 season soon.  The Gauchos' schedule this season includes exciting non-conference contests against traditional rival UNLV and 2011 Sweet 16 participant San Diego State.  For season ticket information or to purchase season tickets for UCSB men's or women's soccer, go here.

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