March 8, 2005

UCSB Gets Quick Rematch, Takes On Long Beach State in First Round of Big West Tournament Wednesday

March 8, 2005

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The Schedule
Game No. 28 - Big West Tournament First Round
Wednesday, March 9, 2005 at 8:30 p.m.
UC Santa Barbara Gauchos vs. Long Beach State 49ers
at The Anaheim Convention Center
Radio: KIST 1340 AM

The Gaucho Record
UC Santa Barbara enters the Big West Tournament with an overall record of 10-17 and a league mark of 7-11. The league record will remain the same for eternity, the overall mark will change. UCSB also enters tournament play having lost two games in a row. In the last weekend of the regular season, the Gauchos dropped both of its games. Losing at UC Irvine on Thursday night by a score of 72-63, and then dropping a heartbreaker at Long Beach State on Saturday night, 58-57. Santa Barbara won just three of its final 12 games during the regular season.

UCSB Gets A Quick Rematch With Long Beach State
UCSB lost its regular season finale in heartbreaking fashion, 58-57 at Long Beach State on Saturday. The Gauchos led by as many as 13 points int he second half, but lost on a high-arching lay-up by Kevin Houston with 2.5 second remaining. UCSB won have to wait long for a rematch with the 49ers. The Gauchos take-on Long Beach in the Big West Tournament on Thursday night at the Anaheim Convention Center.

Oliver, Harris Earn Big West Honors
Senior guard Chrismen Oliver, a walk-on when he came to UCSB in 2000-01, was selected Honorable Mention All-Big West by the league's coaches. Oliver finished the regular season as the Gauchos' leading active scorer at 10.3 points per game. He also leads UCSB in assists (3.1 per game), steals (46), and he is second in three-point baskets (39). Guard Alex Harris was chosen to the Big West's All-Freshman Team. He enters the Big West Tournament ranked third among active players in scoring at 7.8 points per game. He made 21 three-point baskets, averaged 3.0 rebounds per game, had 24 steals and he ranked second on the team in free throw percentage at 75.9%. Harris becomes the first Gaucho to make the Big West All-Freshman Team since 2000-01.

Picked Fourth, Injuries Short Circuit UCSB
At the Big West Conference's annual media day, Pacific was selected to win the league crown, Utah State was picked second, and Cal State Northridge was chosen third. UCSB, in its preseason incarnation, was selected to finish fourth by both the media and the coaches. Things, however, started going awry early as key player, after key player went down. This marks the first year in Bob Williams' tenure as head coach at UCSB that the Gauchos have not finished over .500 and in the upper-half of the league standings.

About Those Injuries...
Alright, let's get right to it. The following players are definitely out for this weekend and any postseason games UCSB will play. Junior guard Cecil Brown, senior forward Casey Cook, freshman forward Chris Devine and freshman forward Todd Follmer. Brown has not played this season. He missed the first six games of the year with a partially torn medial collateral ligament in his right knee, and he has missed the rest of the games with a stress fracture in his lower right ankle. Cook played in the first ten games of the season, but in game 11, on January 2 at Cal State Northridge, he fractured a bone in his right foot. Initially, it was believed that he would possibly return for the final week of the regular season and the Big West Tournament, but the injury has not sufficiently healed so Cook will spend his final games as a Gaucho sitting on the bench with a walking boot on his foot. Devine had knee surgery prior the start of practice in October. It was originally thought that he too would return at some point, but the injury has not healed sufficiently to allow his return, and he will not make his UCSB debut until the 2005-06 campaign. Although he is not injured, Follmer will redshirt the 2004-05 season. The two biggest question marks entering the stretch run of the season are junior forward Cameron Goettsche and sophomore forward Glenn Turner. Goettsche missed four games earlier in the year with a severely strained groin, and then on February 10, in the first half of a game at UC Davis, he strained his lower back. He missed the second half of that game, and he has missed all of the last six games. Goettsche the Gauchos' leading rebounder at 6.9 per game, is very doubtful for the Big West Tournament. Turner, who played in all 27 regular season games despite a gimpy ankle and fractured finger on his right hand, went down hard with about 10 minutes left in the season-finale at Long Beach State. He strained his lower back in the fall, and with little time to recover, he is questionable for the league tournament. In addition to the six players listed above, sophomore forward David Kennedy, freshman guard Derek Rasp, and freshman forward Chris Moore have all missed games due to injuries this year. In all, Gaucho players have missed 117 games due to injuriers this season. That, of course does not include Follmer.

The Week That Was
UCSB dropped its final two regular season games. On Thursday night, the Gauchos were outscored 32-13 over the final 12 minutes and lost at UC Irvine, 72-63. Santa Barbara was paced by Chrismen Oliver, who scored 18 points and made a career-high four three-point baskets, and Derek Rasp, who had 15 points for the third game in a row. On Saturday night, UCSB lost a heartbreaker, 58-57 at Long Beach State. The Gauchos led the game by as many as 13 points in the early part of the second half, but the 49ers came back. A free throw by Josh Davis with seven seconds left in the game gave the Gauchos a 57-56 lead, but Long Beach in bounded the ball to Jibril Hodges near mid court, he pitched a pass to Kevin Houston who scored on a high-banking lay-up with 2.5 seconds remaining in the game. A last-second shot by the Gauchos did not fall, and UCSB lost 58-57. Rasp had 12 points to lead the Gauchos. Michael Chambers added 10, all in the first half.

Possible Starters - Notes
G - Chrismen Oliver - Leads all active Gauchos at 10.3 points per game.
G - Alex Harris - Has made just four of his last 24 shots, 16.7%.
G - Josh Davis - Has played 30 or more minutes 20 times. Only Gaucho to start all 27.
F - Derek Rasp - Is the only Gaucho this season to score 15 or more in three straight games.
F - Glenn Turner - If he plays, he'll start. Strained lower back at LBSU on Saturday.

Possible Reserves - Notes
G - Joe See - Has reclaimed the team-lead in three-point baskets with 40.
G - Michael Chambers - Has hit 14-of-27 shots in his last seven games, 51.9%.
F - David Kennedy - Had career-high six points at LBSU. Has made last five shots from field.
F - Chris Moore - Has 22 points in last five games after scoring 11 in first 10 games.
F - Derek Wheeler - Has played 10 or more minutes in back-to-back games for first time ever.

The Sideline - Notes
G - Cecil Brown - Stress fracture in lower left leg has sidelined him for the season.
F - Cameron Goettsche - Has back strain and is not expected to play in Big West Tournament.
F - Casey Cook - Injured right foot has him sidelined the remainder of the season.
F - Chris Devine - Knee injury has not healed enough. Will miss remainder of year.
F - Todd Follmer - The seven-footer will redshirt his freshman campaign.

The Bob Williams File
Bob Williams is in his seventh season as the head coach at UC Santa Barbara. On December 30, when the Gauchos defeated UC Irvine, he became the fifth UCSB coach to record 100 wins. Last year, he guided the Gauchos to a 16-12 overall record and a 10-8 mark in Big West Conference play. He has also guided UCSB to three straight winning seasons, the first time the program has accomplished the feat since 1987-88 through 1989-90. In 2002-03, Williams' Gauchos went 18-14 overall and 14-4 in league. The 2002-03 Big West mark earned Santa Barbara its first-ever Big West regular season championship along with a postseason trip to the National Invitation Tournament. In addition, the success earned Williams his second Big West Coach of the Year award, his first coming after an impressive 1999 campaign. In 2001-02, Williams guided UCSB to its first Big West Conference Tournament Championship ever and first NCAA Tournament appearance in 12 years. Including this season, Williams' UCSB teams have posted a 106-96 (.525) overall record and a 72-47 (.605) record in Big West games. Prior to his arrival at UCSB, he spent eight years at UC Davis and in those eight years, his teams recorded 20 or more wins five times and a 158-76 record. In Williams' final season, the Aggies went 31-2, won the NCAA Division II National Championship and he was named NABC Division II Coach of the Year. Including two seasons at Menlo College, Williams has a record of 295-196 (.601) at four-year schools.

UCSB In The Big West Tournament
The Gauchos have posted an all-time record of 10-20 in the Big West Tournament. Last season, as the third-seed, UCSB dropped a quarterfinal game to Cal State Northridge, 61-58. In 2003, the Gauchos defeated Pacific in the first round before losing to Cal Poly in the second round. In 2001-02, UCSB won its first Big West Tournament title ever, defeating Cal Poly, UC Irvine and Utah State on consecutive nights. Since Bob Williams became head coach in 1998-99, the Gauchos have gone 5-5 in Big West Tournament games. UCSB and Long Beach State have played in the league tournament on two other occasions. In the first round of the 1989 Big West Tournament played at the Long Beach Arena, the Gauchos topped the 49ers by a score of 69-57. In the first round of the 1995 league tournament, in Las Vegas, Long Beach returned the favor with a 67-64 win.

The Gauchos & 49ers
The Gauchos and Long Beach State have played 96 times in a series that dates back to 1952. The 49ers hold a 50-46 lead in the series, including Saturday's 58-57 win at the Pyramid. UCSB took the first meeting between the schools this year, winning on December 28 in Santa Barbara, 54-47. The Gauchos have not had much luck playing at the Pyramid in recent years. Losing on the final shot this past was nothing new. Last season, the 49ers came back from a 20-point second half deficit to beat UCSB on a buzzer-beating three-pointer, 63-62. In 2002-03, Long Beach made a pair of free throws with two seconds left to escape with a 68-67 win. In 2001-02, a three-pointer with just seconds remaining gave the 49ers a 77-74 win. In Bob Williams' first season, 1998-99, it was also a buzzer-beating three-pointer that led to a 63-62 Long Beach win. The last time UCSB won at the Pyramid was during the 2000-01 campaign, when it posted a 78-71 win. On the bright side, the Big West Tournament is played in Anaheim, not in Long Beach.

UCSB Away From Home
UCSB is 2-13 in road games this season. The Gauchos have not played a neutral court game this season. At one point this season, UCSB had an 11-game losing streak in road games. After winning their season-opener at in overtime at San Diego State, the Gauchos rattled off 11 straight defeats. On February 19, Santa Barbara recorded a 78-66 win at Cal Poly. UCSB went 1-8, in Big West Conference road games. Last season, the Gauchos went 6-10 in road games overall, and just 3-6 in Big West Conference road games.

Close Games Rare For UCSB
UCSB has had few close encounters this season. Of the Gauchos 27 games, 14 have been decided by 10 points or more. The closest game that UCSB played this season came in the regular season's final game when Long Beach State used a lay-up with 2.5 second remaining to hand the Gauchos a 58-57 defeat. Prior to that one-point margin, the closes games that UCSB had played this season were a pair of four-point games against UC Riverside. The Gauchos and Highlanders each won one of the two games. Santa Barbara also played an overtime game at San Diego State back in the season-opener, but that won wound up with the Gauchos posting an 80-72 win. The Gauchos' largest margin of victory this season came on January 13 when they defeated Cal Poly by a 76-56 score. The largest margin of defeat was their 80-50 loss to Utah State on February 6. The 30 point loss to the Aggies was, in fact, the second-largest margin of defeat ever suffered by a Bob Williams-coached Gaucho team.

Walk This Way
Primarily due to the rash of injuries that has beset them this season, the Gauchos have been forced to use an multitude of walk-ons. Of the 10 players who played in the regular season's final game at Long Beach State, five originally came to UCSB as walk-ons. Chrismen Oliver, Derek Rasp, Michael Chambers, David Kennedy and Derek Wheeler were all, originally, non-scholarship players. Two of the five, Oliver and Chambers, now have scholarships. Still, the five have combined to score 545 points for the Gauchos this season, 33.9% of the team's total of 1,608 points. In addition, the five, actually just Oliver, Rasp and Chambers, have combined for 83 three-point baskets, 48.0% of the team's total of 173.

Frontcourt Blues
While injuries have taken their toll on both the UCSB frontcourt and backcourt, the forwards have been hit particularly hard. The losses of Casey Cook, Cameron Goettsche, Chris Devine, Chris Moore, David Kennedy and Todd Follmer have limited the Gauchos' flexibility in the frontcourt. Bob Williams has been forced, at times, to play five guards, and more often than not, he has been forced to use walk-on freshman guard Derek Rasp or junior guard Josh Davis at the four spot. Twice this season, in games at Utah State and Idaho, the Gauchos had just seven players available, and of those seven just one, Glenn Turner, was listed as a forward. In fact, if you go by the roster in the media guide, which has been outdated since just about the start of practice in October, players listed as guards have scored 1,212 of the team's 1,608 points, or 75.4%. Goettsche, who has missed 10 games this season, has more points than any other player listed as a forward in the media guide. He has 129, a figure that is not likely to change. Cook, who has missed the last 17 games, is second among players listed as forwards, with 108. That figure won't change either. One final note, a UCSB frontcourt player has scored in double-figures just one time since a February 3 home win over Idaho. Moore scored 10 points against UC Riverside in the Gauchos' last home game and that is the only time in the team's final eight regular season games that a forward scored in double-figures.

Shooting Woes
UCSB's has struggled with its shooting all season. The Gauchos enter the Big West Tournament shooting 40.9% overall and 34.2% from three-point territory. UCSB actually closed the regular season on a high-note by making 20-of-41 shots at Long Beach State, 48.8%, the fifth-best mark on the season. Santa Barbara made 50.0% or better in a game just twice. The Gauchos shot a season-best 55.0% (22-of-40) on February 19 at Cal Poly. In the season-opener, an overtime win at San Diego State, UCSB made exactly half of its shots, 30-of-60. The Gauchos followed-up the solid effort in the opener with another good effort, 49.0%, at Wisconsin. After that, it was downhill as the team shot 42.9% or less in 10 straight games. In 27 games this season, the Gauchos have shot below 50.0% 25 times, below 45.0% 19 times, below 40.0% 13 times, below 35.0% four times, and below 30.0% once. None UCSB's top-five active scorers are shooting better than the 43.4% mark that freshman guard Derek Rasp is shooting.

They're Anything But Free
Not only has UCSB been struggling with its shooting from the field, it has also had its problems at the free throw line this season. Despite making 22-of-27, 81.5%, in the last two games, the Gauchos closed the regular season at 64.8% from the charity stripe. Before making 80.0% or better in the last two games, UCSB made fewer than 70.0% in nine straight games and 12 out of 13. Interestingly, Santa Barbara actually started the season shooting the ball well from the free throw line. In the first 12 games, the Gauchos made 70.0% or better nine times. In 2003-04, the Gauchos shot 66.0% from the free throw line.

A Nice Turnabout
One thing UCSB has done fairly well this season is protect the ball, particularly in recent games. Overall, the Gauchos are averaging 12.6 turnovers per game. Through the first 10 games, they averaged 14.6 turnovers per outing, but in the last 17 games, they have turned the ball over an average of just 11.4 times per game. UCSB has had 10 or fewer turnovers 10 times this year, all in the last 20 games.

Take Me To Your Leader(s)
If you include the injured Casey Cook, UCSB has three players averaging 10.0 per game or more. For better or worse, the Gauchos have spread the scoring around this season and each of their top seven scorers have led the way at least one time. Chrismen Oliver has led the team in scoring more than anyone else, doing so on nine occasions. Also, eight different players have led the team in rebounding with Glenn Turner leading the way 10 times.

Block Party
In 2003-04, UCSB produced a total of 58 blocked shots in 28 games, an average of 2.1 per game. Cameron Goettsche led the way with just 14. This year, things have changed. As a team, the Gauchos has swatted 85 in 27 games, an average of 3.2 per game. In fact, the team-leader, Glenn Turner, has 39, 25 more than the team-leader last year. Turner and Goettsche have combined for 63 blocked shots this season, five more than the team had all of last season.

On The Rebound
UCSB outrebounded its final regular season opponent, Long Beach State, by a 29-24 margin. That was quite a turnaround from the first meeting between the teams. In the Big West opener on December 28, the 49ers walloped the Gauchos on the boards, 49-31. On the year, Santa Barbara's opponents have collected 107 more rebounds than the Gauchos, an average margin of 3.96 per game. In 27 games, UCSB has outrebounded its opponent just 10 times. In the last five games of the season, however, the Gaucho rebound books weren't quite balanced, but they were closer to the black than they were for much of the year. In the last five games, UCSB was outrebounded by a total of just five rebounds, 1.0 per game.

Men Of Steal
The Gauchos enter the Big West Tournament with 190 steals on the year, a figure that ties for the 10th most ever in a single-season. If UCSB can get two steals in Wednesday night's tournament game against Long Beach State, the 2004-05 team would pass the 2003-04 Gauchos for ninth on the school's all-time list. If Santa Barbara could muster four steals, this team would move into eighth on the single-season list. Last year, UCSB's steal leader had 37. This season, two Gauchos have produced more than 40 steals. Senior guard Chrismen Oliver leads the way with 46 steals, 1.7 per game, and junior guard Josh Davis has 41, 1.5 per game. In all, seven Gauchos have at least 10 steals on the year.