UCSB Hosts Vanguard, Westmont In Preseason Exhibition Match-Ups This Week

Oct. 30, 2007

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The Schedule
Exhibition 1
Wednesday, October 31, 2007 at 7:00 p.m.
UC Santa Barbara Gauchos vs. Vanguard Lions
The Thunderdome (6,000)

Exhibition 2
Saturday, November 3, 2007 at 2:00 p.m.
UC Santa Barbara Gauchos vs. Westmont Warriors
The Thunderdome (6,000)

Gauchos on the Air & Web
Both exhibition contests this week, along with every other UCSB women's basketball game in 2007-08 will be broadcast live on KIST 1340 AM in Santa Barbara. Steve Wendt is back for his fourth season as the play-by-play voice of the Gauchos and former Los Angeles Laker and UCSB star Don Ford will provide the color commentary for most of the broadcasts. UCSB's student radio station KCSB will also be broadcasting the Vanguard game on Wednesday with Rob Garcia and Leo Chusan at the call. Fans can also catch all games live via the internet by going to www.bigwest.tv and purchasing the UCSB season package. For the third straight year the Big West Conference and CSTV are partnering to bring exclusive Big West Gaucho events to fans online. BigWest.TV offers on-demand access to LIVE coverage of Big West contests as well as press conferences, features, and Big West Championships. The two exhibition contests will not be available to the public until Nov. 12 for scouting reasons.

Two Is Better Than One
After playing just one exhibition contest in 2006-07, the Gauchos will have the opportunity to sharpen their skills with two preseason tune-ups this year before the regular season starts Nov. 9. UCSB welcomes Vanguard to the Thunderdome Wednesday night at 7:00 p.m. before hosting Westmont in a 2:00 p.m. matinee Saturday, marking the first time Santa Barbara has competed in two exhibition games since the 2004-05 season. UCSB was only allowed one exhibition contest last season because of an over-scheduling of permissible preseason competition dates two years ago. Jessica Wilson scored 22 points to lead the Gauchos to a 76-47 victory over Division II Cal Poly Pomona 76-47 in the Thunderdome in that game.

Key Members To Miss Time This Week
The Gauchos will be without the services of Jenna Green in both exhibition contests this week. The senior center will miss UCSB's tilts with Vanguard and Westmont with a back injury but should be ready to go when the regluar season tips off. Senior guard Jessica Wilson will sit out Wednesday's game for violation of team rules.

2006-07 At A Glance
With limited personnel for a variety of reasons, UCSB had a rough time in the early part of the 2006-07 season and dropped five of its first six games. The Gauchos responded to their worst loss in years at defending national champion Maryland with a win at Richmond Dec. 4 and followed that with a home victory over Weber State three days later. The turning point in the season finally came Dec. 18 at Pepperdine, when Santa Barbara erased a 15-point deficit to defeat the Waves 78-67. That game also marked the debut of Chisa Ononiwu in a Gaucho uniform after the Baylor transfer had to sit out the first nine games. UCSB went on to win 13 of its final 19 during the regular season and posted a mark of 10-4 in Big West play. Despite its solid performance, the Gauchos finished second in the league standings, marking the first time since 1994-95 that Santa Barbara did not win at least a share of the Big West regular season title. UCSB defeated Cal State Fullerton in the Big West Tournament Semifinals and advanced to face regular season champion UC Riverside in the title game for the second year in a row but came up short once again, falling 70-67. Even with the loss, Santa Barbara made a 12th consecutive postseason appearance, earning a second straight WNIT bid. The Gauchos defeated the University of San Diego 75-63 on the road before losing at Oregon 70-54 in the second round to end the season. UCSB finished 19-14 overall, adding three wins to its total from the year before.

Mr. Gaucho
Mark French returned to his alma mater at the start of 1987-88 season and women's basketball at UC Santa Barbara has never been the same. Entering his 21st season as head coach of the Gauchos, French has had an immensely successful career, posting a record of 415-192 (.683) while at UCSB and an overall mark of 513-306 (.626). Since the 1991-92 campaign, a period spanning 16 years, French's Gauchos have won 12 Big West Conference titles and advanced to 11 NCAA Tournaments -- including five second rounds and a Sweet 16 appearance -- as well as three Postseason WNITs. Individually, French has earned an unprecedented seven Big West Coach of the Year honors, while in 2002-03 he was named WBCA District 8 Coach of the Year and a finalist for the Naismith National Coach of the Year award. He is the dean of Big West coaches, with nine more years of experience in the league than any of his current counterparts and holds conference records for league wins and consecutive seasons at one school. French reached two major coaching milestones last season, winning his 400th victory at UCSB with a 78-67 Santa Barbara win over Pepperdine Dec.18 and then notched his 500th career victory overall when the Gauchos defeated Long Beach State Jan. 4.

Scouting the Lions
Vanguard has been an NAIA power for quite some time now and enters the 2007-08 campaign on the heels of a fourth consecutive 30+ win season. In 2006-07, the Lions went 31-1 overall and won a fifth straight Golden State Athletic Conference Championship, finishing a perfect 20-0. They went on to make a sixth consecutive NAIA Tournament appearance and lost for the first and only time in the semifinals. Long time head coach Russ Davis returns for his 12th season at Vanguard and has a career record of 289-77. The Lions return several key players from last year's squad including NAIA Player of the Year Jessica Richter, who averaged 21.3 points, 5.4 rebounds, and 2.9 assists per game last season. Also returning is the senior forward duo of Melissa Cook (9.8 ppg, 5.0 rpg, 3.3 apg) and Lindsey Rinke (4.3 ppg, 2.6 rpg, 0.9 apg).

Gauchos Picked To Finish Where?
For the first time in over a decade the Gauchos were not selected to win the Big West Conference regular season title by either the coaches or the media in voting coducted at the league's annual media day Oct. 25. UCSB finished second in both polls behind regular season and tournament champion UC Riverside, who received eight first place votes and 64 total points to capture the top spot in the preseason coaches' poll. Santa Barbara received one first place vote and 57 points, finishing a unanimous second. UC Davis was chosen to finish third with 44 points, while Cal Poly received the fourth place nod with 41. Long Beach State, Cal State Fullerton, Pacific, Cal State Northridge, and UC Irvine followed rounding out the poll. In the media poll, the Gauchos received one first place vote and 81 total points to finish second behind the Highlanders, who garnered nine first place votes and 89 points.

Green, Wlison Tabbed Preseason All-Conference
The media also chose a Preseason All-Big West Team and UCSB had two players selected, marking the sixth consecutive year a Gaucho made the squad. Senior center Jenna Green earned one of the six spots for a third consecutive year after earning All-Big West First Team honors last season. The San Jose, Calif. native led the Gauchos in points (16.6), rebounds (7.1), and blocked shots (1.7) for the second straight year, while shooting a league-best 53.7% from the field in 2006-07. Green was the only player to start all 33 games for UCSB last season. Also earning a nod for the preseason all-conference squad was senior guard Jessica Wilson. Wilson led the Big West averaging 4.5 assists and finished in the conference's top 10 in six major statistical categories. The Sacramento, Calif. native earned a second consecutive Second Team All-Big West selection after averaging 13.0 points and 6.7 rebounds in 31 games a year ago. She scored a career-high 30 points in the Gauchos' season opener against Portland State Nov.10.

Junior Partners
In 2006-07, the junior trio of Jenna Green, Jessica Wilson, and Chisa Ononiwu assumed leadership roles on a Gaucho roster that did not feature a single senior. Fortunately, this year's corps of juniors will not be in the same position now that those three are entering their final season in the blue and gold. Guard/forward Whitney Warren enters her third season at UCSB after starting 31 games and posting career-highs of 7.2 points and 4.7 rebounds, while shooting 44.4% from the field as a sophomore last season. Guard Sha'Rae Gibbons returns completely healthy for the first time since the 2004-05 season and is primed to have a tremendous year after an injury-plagued season that saw her appear in just 10 games a year ago. The Gauchos will also have Kat Suderman back after the forward/center redshirted the 2006-07 to recover from knee surgery. The San Luis Obispo, Calif. native is rearing to go after averaging 6.2 points and 6.2 rebounds two years ago. Lastly, junior point guard Lauren Pedersen will make her Gaucho debut this week after transfering from UCLA prior to the start of the 2006-07 season. Pedersen has been very impressive in preseason workouts and has all the necessary tools to be a very good player at UCSB.

Sophomore Confidential
The Gauchos also have an experienced group of sophomores returning in 2007-08, with four players that appeared in a combined 122 games last season. Headlining the group is reigning Big West Freshman of the Year Jordan Franey, who led the team with 44 threes and averaged 8.6 points per game in 2006-07. Also returning is guard Meagan Williams after showing potential to become a big time scorer at UCSB and posting averages of 4.0 points and 3.2 rebounds, while shooting a team-high 41% from behind the three point arc. Ariana Gnekow was a huge part of the team's success in the early part of the season and averaged 3.1 points and 3.2 rebounds in 32 games. Lastly, center Jessie Goble enters the season as one of the most-improved Gauchos and should have an excellent follow up to her rookie campaign.

On the Horizon...
The Gauchos will tip off the regular season Friday, Nov. 9 when BYU visits the Thunderdome at 7:00 p.m. Pac-10 power USC will come to town the following Sunday in a 2:00 p.m. match-up.