UCSB Wraps-Up Preparation for Exhibition Tour of British Columbia This Week

UCSB Wraps-Up Preparation for Exhibition Tour of British Columbia This Week

Aug. 28, 2007

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - The UC Santa Barbara men's basketball team will wrap-up practice this week in preparation for a five-game, nine-day exhibition tour of British Columbia, Canada, which it will begin on Sunday, Sept. 2.

The Gauchos will travel from Los Angeles to Victoria, B.C., on Sunday morning and will play the first of two games against the University of Victoria, on Monday, Sept. 3. In addition to the initial encounter, UCSB will play the University of Victoria on Tuesday, Sept. 4. On Wednesday, Sept. 5, the team will travel, via ferry, to Vancouver, B.C., where it will stay for the remainder of the trip.

After taking Sept. 5 and Sept. 6 off, the Gauchos will play games on three consecutive nights. On Friday, Sept. 7, they will play at Simon Fraser in Burnaby, B.C., on Saturday, Sept. 8, they are at Trinity Western in Langley, B.C., and they will play their final game on Sunday, Sept. 9, when they take-on Douglas College in New Westminster, B.C.

UCSB is allowed to take all players who were either active or redshirted in 2006-07. In addition to the seven returnees who saw action on the Gauchos' 18-11 team last year, the group traveling to Canada will include a quartet of players who redshirted the 2006-07 campaign. Senior forward Nedim Pajevic, a 6-foot-9 transfer from Weber State who is expected to have a major impact in 2007-08, will get his first taste of game action in nearly 20 months. Sam Phippen, a sharp-shooting 6-foot-9 freshman forward, is expected to get major minutes in Canada. Freshman guard Jordan Weiner and junior guard Nick Quick are also eligible accompany the team.

"I want to get the team dynamics in a good place as we approach the regular season," Williams said. "I want us to be at the optimum level to start the season, on and off the court."
Bob Williams, UCSB Head Coach

The seven returnees who will make the trip include five of the team's six top scorers from last season. Senior guard Alex Harris, who won the Big West scoring title in 2006-07 at 21.1 points per game will lead the way. Harris will be joined by fellow All-Big West honoree Chris Devine, who averaged 14.1 points and a team-leading 6.6 rebounds per game. Sophomore guards Justin Joyner (4.8 points, 2.6 rebounds and 2.9 assists per game) and James Powell (8.8 points, 2.3 rebounds and 2.3 assists per game), each a Big West All-Freshman Team selection last season, and senior forward Ivan Elliott (6.1 points and 6.0 rebounds per game) are the other featured returnees who will be on the trip. Reserves Paul Roemer and Beau Gibb round out the roster.

"The practices have given us an chance to implement some things that we want to experiment with on the trip," said 10th-year head coach Bob Williams. "This has been a very good opportunity to get a head-start in a controlled environment. We have also been able to work on our team-building and that's the type of thing that pays-off down the line."

While Williams is looking forward to seeing UCSB's known commodities in action, he is particularly excited to see some of the newcomers.

"The trip will be a good time to give some of our younger players experience with the nucleus of the team," Williams said. "Specifically, though, it will good for Nedim (Pajevic) to get acclimated with his teammates. He practiced all of last year, but seeing him in a game-setting really gives us perspective."

Pajevic, a transfer from Weber State who redshirted the 2006-07 season, figures prominently in UCSB's fortunes for 2007-08. He, along with Devine, Elliott and possibly Phippen, will give the Gauchos a very good four-man rotation at the two frontcourt positions. As a junior at Weber State, the Bosnian played the high-post and averaged 6.7 points, 3.2 rebounds and 1.6 assists overall. As the season came to close, Pajevic was shifted to the low-post and over the final nine games of he averaged 10.2 points and 6.0 rebounds per game while shooting 60.9% from the field.

"He is an important addition to our program," Williams assured. "He gives us a big, talented player down low. I think he is a very good complement to Chris and Ivan."

The trip to Canada, the program's first foreign trip since it went to Italy prior to the 1997-98 season, will give the players a chance to play together and gain some cohesion. That, however, is just part of the positive impact it can have.

"I want to get the team dynamics in a good place as we approach the regular season," Williams said. "I want us to be at the optimum level to start the season, on and off the court."

UCSB will begin practice for the regular season on Saturday, Oct. 14. The Gauchos will begin the 2007-08 season with an exhibition game against Cal State Dominguez Hills on Thursday, Nov. 1. The regular season will get underway on Fri.-Sun., Nov. 9-11, when they play in the Basketball Travelers Classic at Stanford. UCSB will open the tourney on Friday against Northwestern State. On Saturday, the Gauchos play Harvard and in the Sunday finale, they play the host Cardinal.

Santa Barbara's 2007-08 schedule also includes non-conference games at home against former Big West rival and 2007 NCAA Sweet 16 qualifier UNLV, and on the road at North Carolina, which advanced to the NCAA Regional Final in 2007 and is likely to be ranked in the top-5 in the nation in 2007-08.