Much-Anticipated Gaucho Season Opens Friday at T-Dome vs. Hawaii-Pacific

Zalmico Harmon (Photo by Tony Mastres)

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• This Week
Game No. 1
Friday, November 8, 2013 at 7:00 p.m.
UC Santa Barbara Gauchos vs. Hawaii-Pacific Sea Warriors

at UCSB's Thunderdome - Santa Barbara, Calif.
Radio: AM 1290 KZSB in Santa Barbara
On-Line Audio: UCSBgauchos.com
On-Line Video: BigWest.tv
Livestats: UCSBgauchos.com

Game No. 2
Tuesday, November 12, 2013 at 7:00 p.m.
UC Santa Barbara Gauchos at UNLV Runnin' Rebels

at UNLV's Thomas & Mack Center - Las Vegas, Nev.
Radio: AM 1290 KZSB in Santa Barbara
On-Line Audio: UCSBgauchos.com

 On The Radio
All UC Santa Barbara basketball games are broadcast live in Santa Barbara on AM 1290 KZSB and will stream live online at UCSBgauchos.com and NewsPress.com. Gerry Fall is in his ninth year as the play-by-play voice of the Gauchos. Former Los Angeles Lakers and UCSB star Don Ford  and Santa Barbara News-Press legend Mark Patton handle the color commentary.

• Talk'n Gauchos
UCSB Athletics' weekly radio show, Talk'n Gauchos, airs every Tuesday from 6-7 p.m. on AM 1290 KZSB. The show is broadcast live from The Beachside Café, located on Goleta Beach and it features UCSB coaches and athletes.  Hosted by Gerry Fall, the voice of the Gauchos.

• Season Tickets Still Available
Season tickets for both the men's and women's teams are available from the Ticket Office in the Intercollegiate Athletics Building on campus, by calling 805-893-UCSB (8272) or online by clicking here for men's season tickets and here for women's season tickets. This season also marks the second in a two-year celebration of #Thunderdome35 and the season tickets will recognize that. Each ticket will commemorate a memorable moment in the history of the storied Thuderdome.

Gauchos Host Hawaii-Pacific In Regular Season Opener Friday
UCSB opens the 2013-14 regular season on Friday, Nov. 8 when it hosts Hawaii-Pacific. The game will be the first of 13 home games for the Gauchos. They will play 13 true road games in 2013-14 and two other neutral court games. The first road game will be played at UNLV on Tuesday, Nov 12.

The Gaucho Record
UCSB enters its game against Hawaii-Pacific with an overall record of 0-0 and a Big West record of 0-0. The league record will not change as a result of the game against the Sea Warriors. The Gauchos suffered through an injury-marred 2012-13 season and their record reflected it as they finished with an uncharacteristic 11-20 overall mark and a 7-11 record in the Big West Conference.  

Williams Enters 16th Season at UCSB
2013-14 will be Bob Williams' 16th season at the helm of the UCSB basketball program, equaling the longest tenure of any coach in program history.  Willie Wilton guided the Gauchos from 1937-43, 1946-51 and 1952-57, a total of 16 seasons. Jerry Pimm was in charge from 1983-98, 15 seasons.  Williams is the school's all-time leader in coaching victories with 248. His overall record is 248-201 and his teams have qualified for three NCAA Tournaments and six total postseason tournaments. 

Gauchos Picked 2nd In Big West Preseason Media Poll 
UCSB has been picked to finish second in the Big West Conference in a poll of the league's media. The Gauchos received six first-place votes and 167 total points while UC Irvine was awarded nine first-place votes and 183 points. Cal Poly was third in the poll with three first-place votes and 165 points and Long Beach State, the three-time defending regular season champion, got five first-place votes and 164 points.

UCSB Faces Another Tough Schedule
After their season opener against Hawaii-Pacific, the schedule will start to get a little more hairy for the Gauchos. Beginning on Nov. 12 at UNLV, UCSB will embark on a stretch of six games that will include five teams that advanced to the NCAA Tournament in 2013. In addition to the Runnin' Rebels, the Gauchos will play at Colorado (Nov. 21) and UCLA (Dec. 3) while hosting South Dakota State (Nov. 29) and Cal (Dec. 6). The only opponent over that period that did not advance to postseason play is Utah State (Nov. 16) which is a traditional rival and perennial postseason team. After the Dec. 6 game against Cal, UCSB will travel to the University of San Diego (Dec. 15) and then to the Basketball Travelers Classic at Utah State where its opponents will be Troy (Dec. 19), Utah State (Dec. 20) and Western Illinois (Dec. 21). The Gauchos close the year with a Dec. 30 game at Seattle University and then they will close the non-conference season with a home game on Jan. 4 against The Master's College.

Possible Starters - Quick Fact (Note: These are almost completely guesses.)
G 3 Zalmico Harmon - Solid debut with 10 points, 3 rebounds despite injured right thumb.
G 10 Kyle Boswell - Reigning BWC 6th Man of the Year started exhibition and had 13 points.
F 15  Alan Williams - Debut with a 17 point, 11 rebounds, 6 block performance in exhibition.
G 24 Michael Bryson - Picked-up where he left off with 22 points, 9 rebounds vs. East Bay. 
F 34  Shawn Moore - Played nine minutes vs. East Bay, had 3 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 steal. 

Probable Reserves - Quick Fact
G 0   Hunter Ford - Walk-on guard logged 2 minutes vs. Cal State East Bay.
G 3 Eric Childress - Tied for team-high with 3 assists in Gaucho debut.
G 4 Aamahd Walker - Made 3-of-4 shots and had 12 points vs. Cal State East Bay.
F 11 T.J. Taylor- Had surgery on both hips during offseason and may sit out 2013-14.
F 12 Alex Hart - Canadian sharpshooter will likely redshirt but played 2 minutes vs. East Bay.
F 20 Logan Louks- Did not play in exhibition game vs. Cal State East Bay.
F 21 Mitch Brewe - Made just 1-of-6 shots vs. East Bay, but had 6 points, 7 rebounds.
F 31  John Green - Saw his first game action in two years: six points, two rebounds.
G 35 Taran Brown- Came off the bench with 3 points, 5 rebounds in exhibition.
G 43  Duke DaRé - Missed game vs. East Bay with sprained ankle.
F 44  Sam Beeler - Limited to 8 minutes vs. East Bay. Had 1 point, 3 rebounds.

The Opposition
UCSB and Hawaii-Pacific will be meeting for the first time when they play in the season opener on Nov. 8. The Gauchos and UNLV have met 38 times over the years and the Runnin' Rebels hold a 29-9 all-time edge. But when the Rebels won a 94-88 double-overtime thriller at the Thunderdome on Nov. 30, 2011, it ended a four-game UCSB winning streak in the series. The last time the programs met in Las Vegas - Dec. 15, 2010 - the Gauchos recorded a 68-62 victory and, in fact, they have won the last two in Sin City, also winning there during the 2006-07 campaign.

The Gauchos At Home
The Gauchos went 8-6 at the Thunderdome in 2012-13. In 2011-12, they had 11 home wins, going 11-3, and equaled the highest Thunderdome win total in more than two decades. In Bob Williams' first 15 seasons at UCSB, the team has gone 141-58 in home games, a winning percentage of .709. The Gauchos are 302-149 all-time at the Thunderdome.

He'll Answer To The Name Dean
Bob Williams is not only UCSB's all-time winningest head basketball coach, he is now the Dean of Big West coaches and, with the retirement of Bob Thomason at the University of the Pacific, also has the longest tenure of any coach on the West Coast. Williams, a member of the NCAA Basketball Ethics Committee, also has the longest continuous run at one school of any coach west of the Mississippi, - 16 years - the same as Utah State's Stew Morrill and Texas's Rick Barnes.

Boswell Chosen As Senior CLASS Award Finalist
Senior guard Kyle Boswell has been chosen as one of 30 finalists for the NCAA Senior CLASS Award. CLASS is an acronym for Celebrating Loyalty and Achievement for Staying in School and Boswell made the finalist list based on his excellence in the areas of classroom, community, character and competition. As a junior, the Huntington Beach native  averaged 13.0 points, 2.0 rebounds and 1.4 assists per game. He made a team-high 78 three-point baskets, the third most in school history, and hit as many as seven in a game. Boswell is also a Gaucho team captain, takes part in numerous charitable efforts and possesses a 3.81 grade point average as a mechanical engineering major. Following the 2013 campaign, he was named Honorable Mention All-Big West as well as the conference's Sixth Man of the Year.  

Gauchos Look To Get Back Into The Black
To say that last season's 11-20 record was uncharacteristic for a UCSB team coached by Bob Williams would be an understatement. Prior to last year, the Gauchos had posted a school-record seven consecutive winning records, winning 20 or more three times over that span and advancing to four postseason tournaments, including NCAA appearances in 2010 and 2011. In 2007-07, Santa Barbara won a school record 23 games.   

The Gauchos In Season Openers
UCSB has recorded a 10-5 record in season openers under Bob Williams. The 10-5 log includes last season's 77-63 loss at LSU. The loss in last season's opener in Baton Rouge ended a nine-game season-opener winning streak for the Gauchos. This will mark the eighth time under Williams that the team has opened the season at home and they have won seven in a row since losing to Stanford on Nov. 20, 1999.  Dating back to 1937-38, UCSB has gone 49-24 in 73 season-openers under seven different coaches.

Williams Adds To Preseason Honors
Junior forward Alan Williams was named Preseason All-Big West in a vote by the media that covers the conference. It was another in a series of preseason honors for the effervescent Phoenix native. Williams has also been selected to the Lou Henson Preseason Mid-Major All-America Team, the CollegeSportsMadness.com Preseason All-America Team and CollegeSportsMadness.com Preseason Big West Player of the Year.

Many Happy Returns
The cupboard is certainly not bare for the 2013-14 Gauchos. UCSB returns many of its key players from last season, including its top four scorers, top three rebounders and top three shot blockers. Leading the way is junior Alan Williams (17.1 ppg, 10.7 rpg, 2.3 bpg and 1.0 spg), who led the team in scoring, rebounding, blocked shots and steals in 2012-13. Senior Kyle Boswell (13.0 ppg, 2.0 rpg, 1.4 apg) and sophomores Taran Brown (11.1 ppg, 5.3 rpg, 1.0 bpg and 0.8 spg) also return. In addition, a pair of much-improved post players (Sam Beeler and Mitch Brewe) and two solid walk-ons (Shawn Moore and Duke DaRé). The one returnee who will most likely not play is junior guard T.J. Taylor. Taylor had off-season surgery on both of his hips and will probably sit out the year and apply for a medical redshirt.   

The Honorable Alan Williams
Junior forward Alan Williams was a First Team All-Big West choice in 2012-13 after averaging  17.1 points, 10.7 rebounds and 2.3 blocked shots per game. Early on this season, he has already accumulated a solid array of preseason honors. Williams has been named Preseason All-Big West by the league's media and virtually every publication, he was selected to the Lou Henson Preseason Mid-Major All-American Team and CollegeSportsMadness.com selected him First Team Mid-Major Preseason All-American as well as Preseason Big West Player of the Year. Needless to say, expectations are high for Williams and although he missed several practices with toe and groin issues, he seemed healthy when he scored 17 points, collected 11 rebounds and blocked six shots in 24 minutes against Cal State East Bay in an exhibition game. While the double-double doesn't count, it was an indicator that things haven't changed that much from last season. As a sophomore, Williams had 15 double-doubles, the most by a Gaucho since Eric McArthur had 23 during the 1989-90 season. He enters the year with 17 total double-doubles. The Phoenix-native  had some truly standout games last year. Duh! But the one that stands out the most was a 32 point, 16 rebound effort at Cal State Northridge. In the game against the Matadors, he actually  had 23 points and 11 rebounds in the second half alone, leading the Gauchos to a comeback win and in doing so, Williams became the first UCSB player in 30 years to have at least 30 points and 15 rebounds in a game. Finally, he enters the season with 105 career blocked shots, the sixth most in school history.

He's The Bos
Guard Kyle Boswell is one of just two seniors on the UCSB roster. As a junior, he averaged 13.0 points and 2.0 rebounds per game, made 78 three-point baskets – the third most in school history –  and following the year was named Honorable Mention All-Big West and Big West Sixth Man of the Year. While he came off the bench in 20 of his 29 games last season, he could begin the 2013-14 season as a starter for the Gauchos. Boswell started the team's exhibition game against Cal State East Bay and had 13 points, making 5-of-8 shots overall and 3-of-5 from outside the three-point arc. He tied for the team-lead with three assists. Boswell enters the season with 143 career three-point baskets and needs just eight to move into UCSB's career top-10. He also as one of just 30 finalists nationally for the NCAA Senior CLASS Award, which honors the seniors who combine excellence in athletics, academics, leadership and community.

It's Getting A Little Easier Being Green
With all due respect to Kermit the Frog, he isn't the only one who has found it tough to be green. The last two years were very trying for UCSB swingman John Green. In 2011-12, after missing the Gauchos' preseason five-game trip to eastern Canada with a broken bone in his right foot, Green rehabilitated and was ready when the team opened the season. In an exhibition game against San Francisco State, he played 19 minutes, scoring 17 points and collecting nine rebounds. In the regular season opener against Chapman, he had five points and two assists in 14 minutes. Near the end of the game against Chapman, however, Green turned to run up court and broke a bone in his left foot, sidelining him for the rest of the year. After another long healing and rehab period, he was again cleared to play only to break the same bone in his left foot, forcing him to miss the 2012-13 season. Now, Green is healthy and expected to be a key addition to UCSB's arsenal. In the exhibition game against Cal State East Bay, he came off the bench and played 19 minutes, scoring six points and grabbing a pair of rebounds. He struggled with his shot – 2-of-9 from the field – but considering it was his first in-game competition in nearly two years, it was just good to see him on the court.

Taran It Up
Sophomore forward Taran Brown came off the bench in the Gauchos' exhibition win over Cal State East Bay. He played 21 minutes and had three points while collecting five rebounds. As a freshman last season, Brown played in all 31 games, starting 29. He averaged 11.1 points and 5.3 rebounds per game. He was second on the team in three-point baskets with 58, a UCSB freshman record, but he struggled with his shooting over the final five games of the year, hampered by a mask that he was forced to wear after breaking his nose in practice before the Gauchos' game at Hawaii. Brown's role in 2013-14 is still somewhat up in the air. He may be in the starting lineup, but he may also be called on to spark the team off the bench.      

Bryson Picks Up Where He Left Off 
While it was only an exhibition game, sophomore Michael Bryson picked up where he left off last season. In the season finale against Pacific in 2013, Bryson made seven three-point baskets and scored a UCSB freshman record 29 points. On Sunday against Cal State East Bay he played a team-high 29 minutes and had 22 points and nine rebounds. Bryson made 5-of-9 shots overall and 3-of-5 from three-point territory. As a freshman in 2012-13, the Sacramento native averaged 8.4 points and 3.5 rebounds overall, but a late-season surge saw him average 12.7 points while shooting 47.8% overall and 35.4% from three-point range over the final 11 games of the year. In the final 12 games, Bryson averaged 4.7 boards per game. He played in 30 games last season, starting 25, and he is once again expected to be in the starting lineup this season, playing either a wing or the four spot.

On Guard, Point Guard That Is
UCSB will have a new look at point guard in 2013-14. T.J. Taylor, who started most of the games last season, is expected to redshirt after undergoing off-season hip surgeries. Nate Garth, also a starter and key-contributor much of 2012-13, completed his eligibility. Despite those losses, the Gaucho coaches feel pretty comfortable with their options. Junior Zalmico Harmon, a transfer from Ventura College, and freshman Eric Childress out of Leuzinger High School, are both expected to make major contributions. As a sophomore at Ventura College, Harmon was named Western State Conference North Division Player of the Year, First Team All-State and First Team All-Western State Conference after averaging 15.8 points, 5.8 assists and 3.3 rebounds per game. He made 40 three-pointers, hitting 37.0% from beyond the stripe, and he also hit 86.8% of his free throws. Also a defensive stalwart, Harmon had a solid debut in the Gauchos' exhibition game against Cal State East Bay with 10 points, three rebounds and two steals. He made 5-of-8 shots overall in his 22 minutes despite wearing a sizeable wrap and splint on his right thumb. Childress battled nerves in his first game, but finished with three points and a team-high three assists. 

Forward Thinking
Sophomores Mitch Brewe and Sam Beeler are expected to split time as backup to Alan Williams and either could also see time alongside Williams. On Sunday, Brewe had six points and seven rebounds, but tweaked a knee in the first half and is currently day-to-day. He missed several games at the end of last season after fracturing a finger on his right hand. In his 19 games, he averaged 2.6 points and 2.3 rebounds. Beeler has been limited recently with a sore back, but he did play eight minutes against Cal State East Bay scoring one point and collecting three rebounds. He played in all 31 games last season and averaged 2.7 points 2.1 rebounds.

Walk This Way 
Freshman Aamahd Walker played in two games in 2012-13 before injuring his back and missing the rest of the season. He was awarded a medical redshirt and will give his freshman season a second try. In his return against Cal State East Bay, he logged 12 minutes and scored six points, making 3-of-4 shots from the field. Walker is expected to play as a reserve at the off-guard spot and he has a knack for scoring.