Oct. 17, 2006
SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - The UC Santa Barbara women's basketball team will be without two of its key players in 2006-07. Senior guard Erin O'Bryan and sophomore forward Shantel Thomas have decided to leave the Gauchos for personal reasons, head coach Mark French announced Tuesday.
O'Bryan, a native of Gilbert, Ariz., will not return for her senior season with the Gauchos after averaging a career-high 19.4 minutes per game last. She appeared in 27 games for UCSB in 2005-06, averaging 6.9 points, 2.2 rebounds, and 1.5 assists. O'Bryan led the Gauchos in three-point shooting for the second consecutive year at 32.6% and hit seven three-pointers en route to career-high 23 points against UC Davis on Jan. 15.
Thomas has withdrawn from UCSB for personal reasons and will not compete during the upcoming 2006-07 season. The Gaucho coaching staff has extended the opportunity for the Sacramento, Calif. native to return to the program, provided she maintains her academic eligibility.
Thomas appeared in 25 games as a true freshman last season, averaging 2.5 points and 2.6 rebounds in 11.2 minutes per contest. She recorded career-highs of eight rebounds and eight points in consecutive wins over Arizona and Pepperdine Dec. 19 and 30.
"As a staff we are sorry to lose two quality players in Erin and Shantel this season," French said. "We wish Erin the best in her final year at UCSB and look forward to the possibility of Shantel returning to school - and our team hopefully - in the future."
With the departure of O'Bryan and Thomas, the Gauchos currently field a 14-player active roster for the upcoming season and will have to rely on their younger players more than originally expected. In 2006-07, UCSB will feature six returning letterwinners - including a pair of All-Big West performers - as well as four true freshmen, one Division I transfer and one player rejoining the program following a year-long absence. The Gauchos posted a 16-14 overall record and 10-4 conference mark in last year to earn a share of their unprecedented 11th consecutive league regular season title.