Oct. 27, 2010
SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - The UCSB men's and women's basketball seasons were previewed at the annual Media Preview Luncheon held at the Hotel Mar Monte on Wednesday afternoon.
Players from both Gaucho teams talked about their upcoming seasons, which tip-off with exhibition games next week, taking questions from the media and fans.
The women's team returns a pair of Second Team All-Big West players while also adding some top-notch recruits and transfers. One of the all-league players thinks it could all add-up to an exciting year.
"With Kelsey (Adrian) on the perimeter, Mel (Melissa Zorning) at shooter and Nic (Nicole Nesbit) at the point, we have a lot more weapons," said junior guard Emilie Johnson who was joined by senior center Mekia Valentine on the All-Big West team last year. "So, it's going to be interesting to see how teams try to defend us because we're really dynamic, all across the board."
Junior Kelsey Adrian will play both guard and forward. An outstanding all-around player, she is one of two transfers from Cal who are eligible to play after redshirting last season. Zorning is a sharp-shooting freshman guard from Santa Margarita High School and Nesbit is a point guard from Harvard-Westlake HS.
Emilie Johnson averaged 13.8 points and nearly four assists per game in 2009-11. Despite battling injuries, Valentine 12.3 points and 9.3 rebounds per game and finished second in the nation with 120 blocked shots.
"With this group, we have a lot of talent," said third-year head coach Lindsay Gottlieb. "We have a lot of pieces, a lot of weapons. I think what remains to be seen is who's gonna hit the big shot? Where does the ball go? Who's gonna get the big stop in the critical situation? And I think you have to put yourself in the non-conference game situations to have those close games and learn how to be tough and pull out wins."
The Gaucho men's team will be aiming to repeat as Big West regular season and tournament champions. Last year, UCSB made its first NCAA Tournament appearance since 2002. In 2009-10, the team returns all but three players.
"For the most part, we've got the core back," said 2010 Big West Player of the Year and tournament MVP Orlando Johnson. "The work we've put in so far has put us in a good position. This team is very committed and has a chance to be successful."
Johnson averaged 18.0 points and 5.4 rebounds per game as a sophomore in 2009-10. He was joined on the All-Big West Team by James Nunnally, who averaged 14.7 points and 5.6 rebounds per game. UCSB also returns starting forward Jaimé Serna, guards Will Brew, Jordan Weiner and Justin Joyner, 7-foot-3 center Greg Somogyi, and reserve forwards Jon Pastorek and Lucas Devenny. The Gauchos also add freshmen guards Kyle Boswell (Edison High School in Huntington Beach) and Troy Leaf (Foothills Christian High School in El Cajon).
"We're deep at every position, so it just makes practice that much more competitive," Pastorek said. "Everyone's pushing each other and making each other that much better."
Bob Williams, the 2010 Big West Coach of the Year, admits that the expectations for his team are high in 2010-11.
"With five starters back on a team that achieved last year, the sights are obviously set higher this season," he said. "The expectations within our program are really high right now. We're challenging ourselves right now to be the best we can be."
Both teams play their exhibition games next week. The women's team will square-off against Cal State Monterey Bay on Thursday, Nov. 4 at 7:00 p.m. in the Thunderdome. The men's squad will host The Master's College the next night, Friday, Nov. 5, also at 7:00 p.m. The Gaucho women open the regular season on Nov. 12 at Pepperdine. Their first regular season home game will be against Portland State on Nov. 18 at 1:00 p.m. The men open the regular season with three games at the BTI Tipoff Classic at the University of Oregon. They will play Denver University on Friday, Nov. 12 at 4:30 p.m., North Dakota State on Saturday, Nov. 13 at 6:00 p.m. and Oregon on Sunday, Nov. 14 at 6:00 p.m. UCSB hosts Fresno State on Saturday, Nov. 20 in its first home game, tip-off will be 7:00 p.m. in the Thunderdome.
To purchase season tickets, please call (805) 893-UCSB, visit the Ticket Office located inside the Intercollegiate Athletics building on campus or buy online and print at home by clicking here. The Intercollegiate Athletics Ticket Office has two parking spaces adjacent to the building and is now open on Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., making it easier than ever for fans to purchase tickets. The two parking spots, designated specifically for the Ticket Office, are also available during weekday hours, which are 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday.
Remember, One Donation is Gold. A donation to the Gaucho Fund - regardless of the sport it supports - will be part of the One Donation is Gold system. This allows donors to purchase priority/premium seating and parking at UCSB games across several sports in addition to other benefits.