Top-Seeded UCSB Happily Awaits Friday's Big West Tournament Semifinal Game; Harris, Three Others Honored by League
March 11, 2008
Note: The above PDF includes updated player biographies and statistics.
Game No. 31
Friday, March 14, 2008 at 5:30 p.m.
2008 Big West Tournament Semifinals
UC Santa Barbara Gauchos vs. TBA
at the Anaheim Convention Center
Radio: KTMS 990/1490-AM
On The Radio
All UC Santa Barbara basketball games are broadcast live in Santa Barbara on KTMS, 990 and 1490 AM. KEYT-TV Sports Director Gerry Fall is in his fourth year as the play-by-play voice of the Gauchos. Former Los Angeles Lakers and UCSB star Don Ford handles the color commentary for the majority of games, home and road. When Ford is not available for road games, Bill Mahoney, yours truly, will handle the task. Steve Wendt, the voice of the UCSB women's basketball team, will handle the play-by-play for a handful of men's games this season.
TGIF: UCSB Enters Big West Tournament As No. 1 Seed
UC Santa Barbara's thrilling overtime win at Long Beach State on Saturday night gave it a 12-4 record in Big West Conference play, and the top-seed in the league's tournament. It will mark the third time that the Gauchos have been the No. 1 seed in the tournament, previously having been so in 1992 and 2003. This year, however, will be the first time that they have been the top-seed since the tournament's current format was adopted, automatically sending the top two seeded teams into the semifinals on Friday.
On The Record
UCSB enters the Big West Tournament with an overall record of 23-7 and a Big West record of 12-4. In the regular season's final game at Long Beach State, the Gauchos won an overtime thriller, 70-68. On Mar. 6, they set themselves up for the opportunity to earn the No. 1 seed in the tourney with a 77-66 win at Cal State Northridge.
UCSB Rebounds From Shaky Start To Tie For Regular Season Crown
The Gauchos needed a strong finish to earn a tie for the Big West regular season title and the No. 1 seed in the league tournament. After winning its first Big West Conference game this season, 79-64 over Long Beach State on Jan. 3, UCSB dropped a pair, to Cal State Northridge and at UC Irvine, to fall to 1-2 in league play. Following wins at Cal State Fullerton and Cal Poly, the Gauchos were 3-2, but a home loss to Pacific dropped them to 3-3. After the 1-2 start, Santa Barbara went 11-2, and it won nine of 10 Big West games after starting 3-3. The only loss in the final 10 league games was a home defeat to Irvine. The Gauchos also closed the regular season with six straight Big West wins, and seven straight conference road wins. In fact, the only loss over the final seven games came in a BracketBuster game at Utah State on Feb. 21.
Gauchos Set New School Standard For Wins
A Feb. 20 win at Pacific gave UCSB its 20th victory of the 2007-08 season. The Gauchos win at Long Beach State in the regular season finale was the Gauchos' 23rd of the season, breaking the previous school record for wins set in 1987-88 when they finished 22-8. This marks the ninth time in school history that the Gauchos have won 20 games in a season, the eighth in the modern era, and the first since the 2001-02 campaign. For head coach Bob Williams, it is the second time that he has led the program to 20 wins, the first being in 2001-02. Santa Barbara also hit the 20 victory plateau in 1991-92, 1989-90, 1988-89, 1987-88, 1970-71, 1960-61, and 1940-41. Williams has joined Jerry Pimm as the only coaches in school history to lead more than one team to 20 wins. UCSB is also 15 games over the .500 mark for the first time since the 1987-88 season.
Harris Named Big West Co-Player Of The Year, First Team All-League
UCSB senior guard Alex Harris was selected as the 2008 Big West co-Player of the Year, along with Cal State Fullerton's Scott Cutley. Harris, who finished the regular season averaging 20.3 points per game, was also chosen First Team All-Big West for the second consecutive year after leading the Gauchos to a share of the league's regular season championship. He is the fourth UCSB player to earn the honor, joining Brian Shaw (1988), Lucius Davis (1992), and Branduinn Fullove (2003).
Not To Be Forgotten
While Alex Harris was UCSB's only First Team All-Big West honoree, three other Gauchos were named Honorable Mention All-Big West. Junior forward Chris Devine, a two-time Second Team All-Big West choice, senior forward Ivan Elliott, and sophomore guard James Powell were each accorded Honorable Mention recognition. Devine and Powell are tied for second on the team in scoring at 12.3 points per game. Devine is also second in rebounding (5.1 per game), first in steals (36), and second in field goal percentage (50.8%). Powell paces the team in three-point baskets (72), is second in assists (2.7 per game), and second in steals (35). He is also second on the team in three-point field goal percentage at 46.2%. Elliott is averaging 9.7 points per game overall, but 10.6 per game in Big West play. He leads UCSB in overall field goal percentage (57.8%), three-point field goal percentage (48.1), and rebounding (5.7 per game).
Devine Named Co-Hustle Award Winner
Junior forward Chris Devine was named the Big West Conference's co-Hustle Award winner in a vote of the league's coaches. Devine, who won the honor outright in 2006, will share the 2008 award with UC Riverside center Christian Soto.
Probable Starters - Notes
G - Justin Joyner - Has just 18 turnovers in last 12 games, a span of 322 minutes.
G - Alex Harris - Second Gaucho to score more than 1,600 points. Now has 1,659.
G - James Powell - Made 19-of-30 shots from three-point range in last five games.
F - Chris Devine - 22nd Gaucho to hit 1,000 career points. Has 1,121 in career, 18th.
F - Ivan Elliott - Has made 45-of-65 shots from the field in the last 10 games, 69.2%.
Probable Reserves - Notes
G - Nick Quick - Has attempted eight shots in just 16 minutes of action.
G - Jordan Weiner - 15 out of his 17 field goals are from three-point range.
G - Paul Roemer - Played 473 minutes this season after playing just 132 as a freshman.
G - D.J. Posley - Tied his season-high with 20 minutes played on Mar. 8 at LBSU.
F - Nedim Pajevic - Averaged 7.5 points, 4.5 rebounds, and 2.5 assists in last two games.
F - Sam Phippen - Scored two points at Utah State, his only points since Dec. 1 at LMU.
F - Beau Gibb - Has attempted just 16 shots in 27 games, 190 minutes this season.
UCSB Wraps-Up No. 1 Seed With OT Thriller At Long Beach State
Alex Harris and Chris Devine each made a free throw with less than a second remaining in overtime to give UC Santa Barbara a 70-68 victory over Long Beach State in the regular season finale for both teams on Mar. 8. With the score tied at 68-68 and 1.8 seconds remaining in overtime, Justin Joyner threw an inbounds pass three-quarters of the length of the court to Devine. Devine caught the pass, turned to shoot and was fouled with 0.3 seconds left. Devine missed his first free throw and the 49ers immediately called a timeout. However, Long Beach State did not have one left. The referee assessed the 49ers with a two-shot technical foul. Harris made the first of two free throws, but missed the second. Devine then went back to the line and made his second free throw giving the Gauchos a 70-68 lead. Greg Plater's 3-point attempt fell short as the game ended. Harris was 6-of-11 and led UC Barbara with 21 points and Devine added 17 points for the Gauchos. Donavan Morris scored a career-high 33 points but fouled out with 2:40 left in overtime.
The Bob Williams File
Bob Williams is in his 10th season as the head coach at UC Santa Barbara. This year his team recorded an overall record of 23-7 and a Big West mark of 12-4. The 23 wins are a new school record. In 2006-07, the Gauchos were 18-11 overall and 9-5 in league. Williams has led Santa Barbara to winning records in six of the last seven seasons, the only exception being a 2004-05 team that was ravaged by injuries. He has guided UCSB to a pair of postseason appearances. In 2002-03, the 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 trip to the postseason National Invitation Tournament. Additionally, 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 title ever and first NCAA Tournament appearance in 12 years. Including this season, Williams' UCSB teams have posted a 163-129 (.558) overall record and an 100-64 (.610) 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 352-229 (.606) at four-year schools. Finally, dating back to the conclusion of the 2005-06 season, Williams' Gauchos have posted a 49-21 (.700) overall record.
Picked To Win, The Gauchos Don't Disappoint
When the Big West coaches and media got together in October, they were unanimous when they picked UCSB to win the Big West's regular season title. After the Gauchos opened at 3-3 in league play, the preseason picks looked, well, kind of dumb. But Santa Barbara plugged away and, ultimately, was able to pull into a tie for the league's top spot as the regular season ended. Thank heaven for tiebreakers! UCSB, which won its last six consecutive league games, and its last seven straight league road games, finished atop the league standings.
The Gauchos vs. The Big West
UCSB could play virtually any Big West team, with the exception of UC Davis, in its semifinal game at the league tournament. Here is how the Gauchos have fared all-time against the other participants in the Big West Tournament. I am including UC Davis simply to fill space, and so as not to hurt feelings, the teams are listed alphabetically.
Opponent Record Cal Poly 60-30 Cal State Fullerton 34-31 Cal State Northridge 27-9 Long Beach State 51-52 Pacific 47-50 UC Davis 13-3 UC Irvine 41-27 UC Riverside 19-4
In 2007-08, the Gauchos equaled their all-time best record in true road games by going 10-4. They had a five-game road winning streak ended at Utah State on Feb. 22. Still, UCSB won its last seven Big West road games. Most recently, the Gauchos have posted road wins at Long Beach State (70-68 in overtime on Mar. 8), at Cal State Northridge (77-66 on Mar. 6), and at the University of the Pacific (60-53 on Feb. 20). Prior to the win over the Tigers, the Gauchos won at UC Davis, UC Riverside, Cal Poly, and Cal State Fullerton. They also have victories at Eastern Washington, Ball State, and Loyola Marymount. In addition to Utah State, Santa Barbara dropped road games at North Carolina, Stanford, and UC Irvine. In 2006-07, the Gauchos also recorded an all-time best 10-4 record on the road. Dating to the 2005-06 season, UCSB has gone 24-10 in its last 34 true road games.
The Gauchos At Home
UCSB completed its home season on Mar. 1 with a 73-55 win over UC Riverside, giving it an 11-3 record at the Thunderdome in 2007-08. The Gauchos opened the season by winning their first seven home games, stretching a two-season home winning streak to nine, but they went 4-3 to end the campaign. On Jan. 5, Cal State Northridge defeated UCSB 88-84, ending the nine-game home winning streak. The Gauchos also dropped games to Pacific (71-58 on Jan. 24) and UC Irvine (65-59 on Feb. 9). This season, Santa Barbara logged home wins over Cal State Fullerton, Cal Poly, UC Davis, Long Beach State, UC Riverside, UNLV, San Francisco, Montana State, Utah Valley, Pepperdine, and Cal Poly Pomona. The nine-game home winning streak that was ended by Northridge, was the longest the program has had since it won 15 in a row bridging the 1987-88 and 1988-89 seasons. The Gauchos did end on a two-game home winning streak.
UCSB has also gone a perfect 2-0 in neutral court games this season. The Gauchos opened the 2007-08 campaign with wins over Northwestern State and Harvard at the Basketball Travelers Classic in Palo Alto, Calif. Santa Barbara trampled Northwestern State by a 92-71 tally, and then Harvard by a 79-61 score. Unfortunately for the Gauchos, neither opponent is in the Big West Tournament.
Top One-Two Punches
Alex Harris and Chris Devine set a school record last year for most points by two UCSB players in a single-season. This year, Harris and Devine have combined for 948 points, a figure that would rank fifth all-time, if not for the fact that Harris and James Powell have combined for 960, the third most by a one-two punch in school history. Regardless of what happens, Harris will be the only player in school history who has been a part of two out of the top three one-two punches.
# Players Season Points 1. A. Harris/C. Devine 2006-07 1,019 2. L. Davis/I. Jones 1991-92 1,014 3. A. Harris/J. Powell 2007-08 960 4. C. DeHart/M. Doyle 1988-89 957 5. C. DeHart/E. McArthur 1989-90 929 6. L. Davis/G. Gray 1990-91 928 7. M. Hull/B. Fullove 2001-02 893 8. R. Tutt/J. Merrill 1996-97 882 9. C. Henry/S. Fisher 1985-86 878 10. B. Fullove/M. Hull 2002-03 869 Note: The leading scorer is listed first
Take Me To Your Leaders
While only four players (Alex Harris, James Powell, Chris Devine, and Ivan Elliott) have led the Gauchos in scoring this season, the same has not held true for the other statistical categories. UCSB has had eight players lead or tie for the team-lead in steals, six lead or tie for the team-lead in rebounding, five lead or tie for the lead in assists, and six have led or tied for the team-lead in blocked shots.
UCSB had four Big West Players of the Week this season. Senior Alex Harris has earned the award three times (Nov. 25, Dec. 10, and Mar. 10) and sophomore guard James Powell has won it once (Dec. 3). Harris has been named Player of the Week five times in the last two seasons.
Active Scoring Leaders
Player Points Games Avg. Alex Harris 1,659 116 14.3 Chris Devine 1,121 87 12.9 James Powell 626 59 10.6 Ivan Elliott 468 59 7.9 Justin Joyner 248 58 4.3 Nedim Pajevic 165 30 5.5
Among The Ranks
In terms of team statistics, here is how the Gauchos rank as a team in the Big West Conference overall statistics:
Category Stat Rank Scoring Offense 70.5 4th Scoring Defense 64.2 1st Scoring Margin +6.3 ppg 3rd Field Goal % 45.9% 5th Field Goal % Defense 43.7% 3rd Free Throw Percentage 76.1% 2nd 3-pt. FGs Made 7.67 pg 2nd 3-pt. FG % 41.8% 1st 3-pt. FG % Defense 30.8% 2nd Rebounding Margin -2.9 rpg 8th Blocked Shots 2.27 bpg 5th Assists 14.73 apg 3rd Assist/Turnover Ratio 1.01 2nd Opp. Turnovers 18.0 tpg 2nd Turnover Margin +3.50 pg 2nd Steals 8.40 spg 3rd
Eight-Game Streak Was Longest In A Long Time
First of all, get used to this note. It's not going anywhere. UCSB's eight-game winning streak, which was ended at North Carolina on Dec. 22, was the longest that a Gaucho team has put together since Bob Williams became head coach in 1998-99. It was also the longest winning streak since the 1988-89 team opened the year by winning 11 consecutive games, and it equaled the second longest streak in school history. Santa Barbara also won eight games in a row in 1971-72, 1960-61, and 1940-41.
UCSB's longest winning streak in 2007-08 was eight consecutive games, the longest since the 1988-89 season when the Gauchos opened the season with an 11-0 record. On the other side of the coin, Santa Barbara's longest losing streak this season has been two games. the Gauchos have dropped consecutive games just one time, when they narrowly lost to Cal State Northridge on Jan. 5, 88-84, and then at UC Irvine on Jan. 10, 66-63.
16 Above Break Even: It's Been A While
UCSB completed the regular season with a 23-7 overall record, which by now, you already know. What you may not know, is that this marks the first time in a long time that the Gauchos have been 16 games above the .500 mark. In fact, this is just the second time in program history that they have been 16 over .500. The first, and only, other time UCSB was 16 over .500 was near the end of the 1987-88 season when it was 22-6. At that point, the Gauchos lost in the Big West Tournament and then the NCAA Tournament to finish at 22-8.
Harris Becomes Second Gaucho To Score 1,600 Points
Senior guard Alex Harris scored 18 points in UCSB's Mar. 1 win over UC Riverside, and in doing so he became the second UCSB player to score 1,600 career points. Harris, who is averaging 20.3 points per game this season, had 21 in last Saturday's regular season finale at Long Beach State and now has 1,659 career points, second only to Carrick DeHart, who completed his Gaucho career with 1,687 points.
Harris Named Second Team All-District 15
Alex Harris was named Second Team All-District 15 by the National Association of Basketball Coaches, it was announced last week. Harris, a preseason Mid-Major All-American, was joined by Fullerton's Josh Akognon on the Second Team. Harris also earned the honor in 2006-07.
Starters From The Start
UCSB's starting lineup has been pretty consistent this year. There has been very little change. Three Gauchos have started all 30 games, and two others have started 29 of 30. Senior forward Ivan Elliott, as well as sophomore guards James Powell and Justin Joyner, have made all 30 starts for Santa Barbara. While they have been the only staples in the starting lineup, senior guard Alex Harris and junior forward Chris Devine have started 29 of the 30 games. Harris missed the home opener on Nov. 15 against Cal Poly Pomona with a thumb injury, and Devine was absent from the Nov. 24 home game against Montana State. He attended a funeral in his native Alaska. Outside of the regular five, two other players made starts for the Gauchos. The interlopers were D.J. Posley, who started in place of Harris on Nov. 15, and Nedim Pajevic, who started in place of Devine on Nov. 24.
Dialing Long Distance
UCSB made six three-point baskets last Saturday at Long Beach State. On the season, Santa Barbara has now made 230 three-point baskets, a new school record. Previously, the school record was 219, set in 2002-03. On Mar. 1, in a home win over UC Riverside, the Gauchos made 11-of-19 shots from beyond the three-point arc, 57.9%. It was their highest mark since making 60.0% in a Jan. 12 win at Cal State Fullerton. It was also the 10th time this season that they have made at least 50.0% of their three-point attempts. For the season, Santa Barbara is shooting 41.8% from three-point range, the top mark in the Big West Conference, and well above the school record of 40.3% set during the 2001-02 season. Entering the Big West Tournament, UCSB has made 10 or more three-point baskets nine times, including a season-high 12 in victories over UNLV, Utah Valley, and Ball State.
The Steal Curtain
UCSB had eight steals on Mar. 8 at Long Beach State giving it 252 on the season, a new school record. The previous record of 236 steals was set in 1998-99, Bob Williams' first year as head coach of the Gauchos. In the last seven games, the Gauchos have had 71 steals, an average of 10.1 per game. In a Feb. 14 win over Cal Poly, they tied their season-high with 16, equaling the third highest total in school history. They also had 16 on Dec. 5 against Pepperdine. UCSB has had 10 or more steals six times this season, including three times in regular season's final seven games. Last year, in 29 games, UCSB had a total of 180 steals.
Plenty Of Turnover
UCSB opponents are averaging 18.0 turnovers per game in 2007-08, an increase of 4.6 per game over the 13.4 they averaged in 2006-07. Last year, a Gaucho opponent had 20 or more turnovers just once, 21 by Pepperdine in a double overtime game. In 2007-08, UCSB has forced 20 or more turnovers nine times in 30 games, and only three opponents have had fewer than 15. The highest total by a Gaucho opponent this season was 28, in the opener against Northwestern State.
Fade To Black
The Gauchos have had more assists than turnovers six of the last nine games. Over that span, they have had 131 assists and 115 turnovers and have gone into the black in the assist-to-turnover ratio category. Entering the Big West Tournament, UCSB has totaled 442 assists as compared to a 'mere` 436 turnovers. On Jan. 24, the Gauchos had a season-low seven turnovers against Pacific. They have had eight turnovers twice, on Feb. 22 at Utah State and Jan. 3 against Long Beach State.
A Game Of Percentages
UCSB won its last six Big West Conference games, and in the last five, one of the main reasons was outstanding shooting. In victories over Long Beach State, Cal State Northridge, UC Riverside, Pacific, and UC Davis, the Gauchos made 121 out of 240 field goal attempts, 50.4%. On the season, UCSB has made 50.0% or better from the floor 12 times.
A Rebounding Rebound
The Gauchos enter the Big West Tournament on more than a winning streak. UCSB enters the tournament on a rebounding roll as well, having outrebounded three straight opponents for the first time this season. Not only has Santa Barbara outrebounded its last three opponents, but the margin has gotten progressively larger. On Mar. 1, the Gauchos edged UC Riverside by a pair of rebounds, on Mar. 6, they outrebounded Cal State Northridge by three, and on Mar. 8, they had four more rebounds than Long Beach State. While the victories have been small, they represent at least a step in the right direction for a team that gets outrebounded by nearly three rebounds per game. For the year, UCSB has outrebounded 13 of 30 opponents, none by more than nine rebounds. On the other hand, the Gauchos have been outrebounded 15 times, including five by double-figure margins.
UCSB defeated Long Beach State by a mere two points in last Saturday's top-seed clinching win at the Pyramid. The margin of victory over the 49ers was the Gauchos smallest this season. In the second-to-the last game, on Mar. 6 at Cal State Northridge, they won by 11 points, 77-66. On the season, 15 of UCSB's wins have come by margins of 10 or more. The largest margin of victory for Santa Barbara this season came on Dec. 19 at Ball State when the Cardinals fell by a 79-52 count. On the other side of the coin, the Gauchos have lost seven games this season, four of which have come by double-digit margins. The largest margin of defeat that UCSB has suffered this season was a 105-70 loss on Dec. 22 at North Carolina.
Some Magic Numbers
In Saturday's win at Long Beach State, UCSB won the rebounding battle by a 27-23 margin. It was just the 13th time in 29 games that the Gauchos have outrebounded their opponent and in those games, they have gone 12-1. In a Mar. 1 win over UC Riverside, Santa Barbara limited the Highlanders to 55 points. It was the third time in the last seven games that UCSB has held an opponent under 60 points, and all three times resulted in victories. UCSB has held teams below 60 points 10 times in 2007-08 and has gone a perfect 10-0 in those games. In fact, Santa Barbara has held two other opponents to 60 points and three to 61, going undefeated in those games as well. Thus, when the Gauchos have limited the opposition to 61 points or less, they have gone 15-0. Finally, UCSB attempted a season-high 39 free throws in the penultimate game of the season at Cal State Northridge, eight more than the host Matadors attempted. The Gauchos are a perfect 11-0 when they attempt more free throws that their opponent. They are 13-1 when they make more charity shots that the opposition.
The Best Things In Life Are Free
To this point, UCSB has had an outstanding season from the free throw line. The Gauchos finished second in the Big West in free throw percentage at 76.1%, a figure that would tie for the second highest total in school history if it can hold. Santa Barbara has made 80.0% or better in 12 games this season, and 90.0% or better three times. Three starters are shooting 78.0% or better from the line, led by Alex Harris who enters postseason play at 81.6%. Reserve forward Nedim Pajevic (85.0%) leads the team.
If You're Going To Lose...
UCSB has seven losses this season, four on the road. Of the Gauchos' losses, two are pretty excusable. On Nov. 11, Santa Barbara dropped a 67-48 decision at Stanford, a program which has been ranked among the nation's top-15 for much of the season. The second understandable loss came on Dec. 22 at the University of North Carolina. Two days after walloping Ball State in snowy Muncie, Ind., the Gauchos lost a 105-70 game to the top-ranked Tar Heels.
Alex Harris has scored 10 or more points in all 29 of his appearances this season. In fact, dating back to the 2006-07 season, he has scored 10 or more 36 in 36 consecutive games. James Powell and Chris Devine are second on the team with 20 double-figure scoring efforts, and Ivan Elliott is fourth with 15. In all, eight different UCSB players have scored 10 or more points in a game at least one time in 2007-08.
From year-to-year, I include a little chart that has what I call the double-double dippers for the season. This year, that is a VERY short list. Double-double dipping refers to players who have had double-figures in two categories in the same game. Normally the categories are points and rebounds. This year, just one UCSB player, Nedim Pajevic, has had a double-double. He had 10 points and 10 rebounds in a Nov. 20 win over San Francisco. That has been the only double-double recorded by a Gaucho player this season. In 2006-07, Chris Devine had five double-doubles, and Ivan Elliott had one. Even more fascinating is that Pajevic's 10-rebound performance against the Dons is the team's sole double-digit rebound effort this season. One. That is UCSB's new record for fewest games of double-figure rebounds in a single season.