Winners of Three Straight, Gauchos Play Defending Champion Cal State Fullerton Thursday in Quarterfinal Round of Big West Tournament.
March 10, 2009
Note: For updated player information, please download the PDF of UCSB's Big West Tournament Information Packet.
Game No. 30
2009 Big West Tournament
Thursday, Mar. 12, 2009
30 minutes after 6:00 p.m. game.
No. 4 UCSB vs. No. 7 Cal State Fullerton
at the Anaheim Convention Center
Radio: KIST 1490-AM in Santa Barbara
On The Radio
All UC Santa Barbara Big West Tournament games will be broadcast live in Santa Barbara on KIST 1490-AM. KEYT-TV Sports Director Gerry Fall is completing his fifth year as the play-by-play voice of the Gauchos. Former Los Angeles Lakers and UCSB star Don Ford handles the color commentary.
Gauchos Enter Tournament As No. 4 Seed
UC Santa Barbara entered its Thursday, Mar. 5 game against UC Riverside as the eighth-place team in the Big West Conference. They exited their Saturday, Mar. 7 win over Long Beach State tied for fourth-place and, by virtue of a tiebreaker, the No. 4 seed in the Big West Tournament. UCSB had a bye in the first round of the tournament and will play seventh-seeded Cal State Fullerton on Thursday night 30 minutes following the conclusion of the quarterfinal game between UC Davis and Pacific. On Wednesday night, No. 8 Davis edged No. 5 UC Irvine, and No. 7 Fullerton topped No. 6 UC Riverside. Fullerton's win, senior guard Josh Akognon set a Big West Tournament record with 37 points, making nine three-pointers, the second most in tourney history. The Titans defeated UCSB twice this season, coming from behind in both instances.
For The Record, UCSB Took The Tough Road To Fourth-Place
UCSB will enter the Big West Tournament with an overall record of 15-14. The Gauchos finished with a Big West mark of 8-8. The records seem fairly average, until you take a closer look. When they blew a 22-point lead and lost a 72-65 decision at Cal State Fullerton on Feb. 5, Santa Barbara was tied for last with an overall record of 8-13 and a 2-7 record in league play. The Gauchos won six of their last seven Big West games and seven of eight overall to climb back over the .500 mark overall and to the .500 mark in league. The only loss since Feb. 5 was a 62-57 defeat at Cal State Northridge and that was a game that UCSB led by 13 in the second half.
Devine Earns All-Big West Honors Again
Senior forward Chris Devine was voted First Team All-Big West by the league's coaches. Devine, who enters the Big West Tournament averaging 15.5 points and 6.5 rebounds overall, finished at 16.5 points and 7.4 rebounds per game in Big West play. It marks the fourth straight year that he has been named All-Big West. In 2005-06 and 2006-07, Devine was named Second Team All-Big West and following the 2007-08 campaign, he was an Honorable Mention choice. On Tuesday, Devine was awarded his second Big West Hustle Award. He also earned the award in 2005-06.
Gauchos Win Thriller Over Long Beach State To End Regular Season
On senior night, it was a freshman that led UC Santa Barbara. Freshman James Nunnally's three-point basket as time ran out gave the Gauchos a dramatic 76-75 win over Long Beach State on Saturday night. The win gives UCSB the fourth-seed in next week's Big West Tournament and earns them a first round bye. Nunnally's game-winner capped a bizarre final 10 seconds which saw two lead changes and a tie. With just over seven seconds to play and the 49ers leading 73-71, Nunnally made a running lay-up to tie the score at 73. Long Beach's T.J. Robinson was fouled with 6.8 seconds left and made a pair of free throws to put his team back on top, 75-73. The ball was brought into Brew who streaked up the court and handed the ball to Nunnally on the right sideline. Nunnally curled around Brew and dribbled towards the left sideline before pulling-up for the game-winner in front of the Santa Barbara bench. He finished with a team-high 20 points, including 17 in the second half and 15 in the final 6:54, helping the Gauchos overcome an eight-point deficit. UCSB trailed by as many as nine points in the first half. Chris Devine, playing his final home game, scored 15 points. The Gauchos' other senior who played, D.J. Posley, finished with a career-high seven assists. Long Beach was led by Stephen Gilling, who had a game-high 23 points. Donovan Morris added 17, including 13 in the second half. The Gauchos finished the game at 51.0% from the field overall and 46.7% from three-point range, 7-of-15. The 49ers made 54.8% of their shots, including nine three-pointers. Santa Barbara had 19 turnovers, but just six in the second half. Long Beach had 21 turnovers, 11 in the final 20 minutes.
The Bob Williams File
Bob Williams is in his 11th season as head coach at UC Santa Barbara. In 2007-08, Williams guided the Gauchos to a 23-9 overall record. The 23 wins were a school record, and UCSB also won its second Big West regular season title with a 12-4 conference record. Following the campaign, the Gauchos were awarded a bid to the National Invitation Tournament. It was the third time that a Williams-coached UCSB team advanced to postseason play. The 2002 Gauchos won the school's first Big West Tournament title, advancing to the NCAA Tournament, and in 2003, they won the league's regular season championship and played in the NIT. Williams has been selected Big West Coach of the Year twice, in 1998-99 and 2002-03. In 1998-99, he took over a UCSB program that had not recorded a winning season in five years, and after seeing his team lose its first eight games that year - extending a two-season losing streak to 16 straight games - the Gauchos turned things around, winning 15 of their final 20 games and finishing on top in the Big West's Western Division. Williams has a UCSB record of 178-145. He guided the program to eight winning seasons in his first 10 years, and a pair of 20 win seasons. He has a career record of 108-72 in Big West games. Prior to his arrival at UCSB, Williams 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's 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 an overall career record of 367-245 (.600) at four-year schools.
Possible Starters - Notes
G - 1 - D.J. Posley - Had career-high seven assists in regular season finale vs. LBSU.
G - 4 - Paul Roemer - Has 15 steals in the last five games.
G - 20 - Will Brew, Jr. - Leads Gaucho regulars in 3-point field goal percentage, 39.6%.
F - 0 - Jaimé Serna - Shooting 64.3% in the last four games.
F - 10 - Chris Devine - With 1,577 career points, needs four to move into third all-time.
Possible Reserves - Notes
G - 2 - Nick Quick - Torn medial collateral ligament in left knee has him sidelined.
G - 3 - Jordan Weiner - 26 of his 30 baskets have come from 3-point range.
G - 21 - James Nunnally - Averaged 17.7 points and shot 64.3% in the last three games.
G - 42 - James Powell - Fractured right eye socket has him sidelined indefinitely.
F - 15 - Sam Phippen - Scored career-high nine points on Mar. 7 vs. Long Beach State.
F - 44 - Jesse Byrd - 13 points in regular season finale were highest total since Dec. 4.
C - 55 - Greg Somogyi - His 37 blocks are second most ever by a Gaucho freshman.
Powell And Quick Join Joyner On Injured List
Junior guard James Powell and senior guard Nick Quick have joined junior point guard Justin Joyner on the injury list for the Gauchos. Powell fractured the lower part of his right eye socket in practice on Mar. 3 and could play, but it is unlikely. Quick tore the medial collateral ligament in his left knee in practice on Mar. 4 and will be sidelined the rest of the season. Joyner had surgery on his right wrist prior to the season and has not played in 2008-09. He will apply to the NCAA for a redshirt year and should return as a junior in 2009-10.
Wins In Seven Of Last Eight: Inside The Numbers
UCSB has won seven of its last eight games, and the numbers really do tell the story. In the last seven, the Gauchos are averaging 67.9 points per game and allowing just 63.0, a margin of +4.9 per game. In addition, they are outrebounding the opposition by 1.8 rebounds per game over that time, and outshooting them 46.1% to 43.6%. Perhaps the biggest difference is in the turnover category. Santa Barbara is averaging 14.2 turnovers in the last eight while forcing 16.4. If you throw out the season-high 26 turnovers they had in the only loss during the past seven games - 62-57 at Cal State Northridge - the Gauchos have averaged 12.6 turnovers in the seven wins.
Into The Black>
In winning seven of the last eight, UCSB has gone back into the scoring black for the first time since very early in the year. By outscoring their last two opponents by 14 points, the Gauchos have now outscored their opposition this season by seven, 1,897-1,890.
In Defense Of The Gauchos
When UCSB allowed Long Beach State to score 75 points in the regular season finale, it was a break from the norm. It was the most points that the Gauchos have allowed in a game since giving-up a season-high 89 on Jan. 22 at UC Davis. Santa Barbara has allowed 66 points or less six times in the last eight games and 70 or less 19 times in 29 games this season. They have held opponents under 60 points nine times, and under 50 points once - Nov. 29 when they gave up 38 to Nicholls State.
Men Of Steal
UCSB has had 10 or more steals six times this season, including three times in the final four regular season games. On Feb. 25 at Cal State Northridge, they had a season-high 14. In the next game, Feb. 28 vs. UC Davis, the Gauchos had 12, and in the regular season's final game against Long Beach State, they matched the season-high with 14 more. For the season, Santa Barbara is averaging 7.1 steals per game, tied for second in the Big West, but in the last four games they have averaged 11.7 steals per game. The 206 total steals on the season are the seventh most in school history. Senior guard D.J. Posley paces the Gauchos with 42 steals while Chris Devine has 29, Paul Roemer has 28, and Will Brew, Jr., and James Powell have 27 apiece. In the last four games, Posley and Roemer have combined for 24 steals.
The Return Of An Old Friend: The Three-Pointer
UCSB is not a great three-point shooting team. A 33.5% three-point field goal percentage is testament to that, but if their last two games are an indicator, then things are on the upswing for the Gauchos. In the final game of the regular season, a win over Long Beach State, Santa Barbara made 7-of-15 from behind the three-point line, 46.7%. On Mar. 3 against UC Riverside they hit 10-of-20, 50.0%. In the last two games, UCSB made 17-of-35, 48.6%, the best two-game percentage of the season.
The Gauchos have won seven of their last eight games, and in six of the seven they had to come from at least eight points behind to do so. In four of the games - wins over UC Irvine, Cal Poly, Montana State and UC Davis - UCSB needed to overcome double-digit deficits. The only wire-to-wire victory among the last seven was a 66-53 win on Mar. 3 over UC Riverside.
Take Me To Your Leaders
While Chris Devine has been the Gauchos' clear leader in scoring this season, UCSB has shown a great deal of balance in the other categories. Actually, Devine has led Santa Barbara in scoring 16 times this season. James Powell, who is not expected to play in the Big West Tournament, led the way five times. Freshman James Nunnally has also paced the way in scoring five times, including the last three regular season games, all wins. In all, six different players have either led, or tied for the team-lead in scoring in 2008-09. In rebounding, seven different players - Devine, Nunnally, Jesse Byrd, Jaimé Serna, D.J. Posley, Paul Roemer, and Will Brew, Jr. - have either led or tied for the lead. Taking it one better, eight different players have led the team in assists, with Greg Somogyi joining the previously mentioned seven.
A Fresh Approach
When UCSB played four freshmen in the season-opener against Cal State Los Angeles, it was the first time that four freshmen had played in the same game for the Gauchos since the 2000-01 season. The four freshmen, guards James Nunnally and Will Brew, Jr., forward Jaimé Serna, and center Greg Somogyi have each played in all 29 games. The four freshmen are, in fact, the only players to enter the Big West Tournament having played in all 29 UCSB games this season. In the Big West Conference opener at Long Beach State, the Gauchos started three of the freshmen - Nunnally, Brew and Somogyi - also a first since the 2000-01 season. In 2000-01, the Gauchos started Branduinn Fullove, Jacoby Atako, and Nick Jones together on several occasions. Brew has the most starts of any of UCSB's freshmen with 21. Combined, the foursome has 47 starts.
Freshman Block Party
UCSB has 78 blocked shots on the season, an average of 2.68 per game. Leading the way is freshman Greg Somogyi who has swatted 37, 47.4% of the team total. In all, Gaucho freshmen have 56 of the team's 78 blocked shots on the year, 71.8%.
UCSB players earned three Big West Player of the Week honors this season. Not surprisingly, all three came in the last four weeks of the season. Senior forward Chris Devine won the honor back-to-back weeks on Feb. 16 and Feb. 23. Freshman guard James Nunnally earned the honor in the final week of the regular season after leading the Gauchos to consecutive wins over UC Riverside and Long Beach State. In the victory over the 49ers, it was Nunnally's three-pointer at the buzzer that gave UCSB a 76-75 win and the No. 4 seed in the Big West Tournament.
Close Games: The Gauchos Start To Figure It Out
For much of the 2008-09 season, UCSB struggled in close games. Before the current run of seven wins in eight games, the Gauchos only had one win with a margin of five points or less, a 62-57 victory at Utah Valley on Dec. 4. On the other hand, through the first 21 games, UCSB lost five games by margins of five points or less. In the last eight games, that trend has changed. While the Gauchos only loss in the last eight was by a margin of five points, three of the wins were by two points or less. They defeated Long Beach State (76-75 on Mar. 7), UC Davis (66-64 on Feb. 28), and Cal Poly (68-66 on Feb. 14). Additionally, a 78-71 win over Montana State on Feb. 21, came in overtime.
Devine Joins Exclusive Group
In addition to climbing several statistical top-10s and becoming just the second player in school history to rank among UCSB's all-time top-five for points and rebounds, senior forward Chris Devine has joined another rather exclusive, yet obscure group. Unless the Gauchos lose in the first round of the Big West Tournament and, by some wild scenario lose in either the first round of the NCAA Tournment or the National Invitation Tournament, then Devine has become just the fourth player in school history to play on four teams with .500 or better records. The Gauchos have put together more than four straight seasons of .500 or better, but this is just the second time since freshmen became eligible to play that they have done so. UCSB had four straight winning seasons from1986-1990. There were just three players that played on all four of those teams - Carrick DeHart, Eric McArthur and Doug Olson. Entering the Big West Tournament at at 15-14, it is highly unlikely that Santa Barbara will finish below .500. Last year, the Gauchos were 23-9, in 2006-07 they went 18-11, and in 2005-06 they were 15-14.
A New Start
Last season, only seven UCSB players started games and the Gauchos had just three different starting lineups. In 2008-09, 11 different players have started games while UCSB has trotted out nine different starting fives. Also, not one player has started all 29 games this season. Chris Devine has the most starts with 28. Only two other players have started 20 or more. D.J. Posley has made 22 starts while Will Brew. Jr., has made 21. Seven players have made at least 11 starts for the Gauchos and nine players have started five or more times.