Gauchos Tabbed to Finish Second in Big West; Johnson Named to Preseason All-Conference Team

Oct. 29, 2009

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - A panel of media members has picked the UC Santa Barbara men's basketball team to finish second in the Big West Conference in 2009-10. The same panel also named Gaucho sophomore Orlando Johnson to the preseason all-conference team. Long Beach State has been tabbed as the league favorite, it was announced Thursday.

The Gauchos received six first-place votes and totaled 179 points in the poll. Long Beach received 17 first-place votes and had 209 points.

Despite losing its leading scorer and rebounder - Chris Devine - from a team that went 16-15 overall and 8-8 in the Big West, UCSB returns numerous key players and adds several others. Sophomores James Nunnally, Will Brew, Jr., Jaimé Serna, and Greg Somogyi, return with a year of experience. They will be joined by senior guards James Powell and Paul Roemer, junior guard Jordan Weiner and junior forward Sam Phippen.

Santa Barbara should also be bolstered by the return of junior point guard Justin Joyner who, after starting in his first two seasons, sat out the 2008-09 season while recovering from a wrist injury. Additionally, a pair of redshirt transfers (Johnson from Loyola Marymount and 6-foot-10 Jon Pastorek from San Diego State) and two freshmen (Guard Chris Brew and 6-foot-9 forward Lucas Devenny) could be factors.

"Top to bottom this is as well-balanced as I've ever seen this league," said Bob Williams, who is entering his 12th season as head coach of the Gauchos. "There are a lot of good teams in this league and I think it should be a very exciting year."

Cal State Northridge, the defending league champion, finished a distant third with 130 points. UC Riverside was fourth with 127 and Pacific, which received the only other first-place vote, was fifth with 126. Rounding out the poll, UC Davis was picked sixth with 114 points followed by Cal State Fullerton (90), UC Irvine (76) and Cal Poly (30).

Johnson, a transfer from Loyola Marymount, returns to action after sitting out the 2008-09 season as a redshirt. As a freshman for the Lions, the Seaside, Calif., native set school records for points (383), scoring average (12.4 points per game), and rebounds (152), leading the team in all three categories. He was also tied for the team-lead with 12 blocked shots and second with 40 three-point baskets. Johnson scored in double-figures 20 times in 31 games and had three double-doubles. His season-high of 26 points came against Wagner and he added a 25-point game against UC Riverside.

"That shows a lot of respect for Orlando," Williams said of the honor. "But let's see how much respect we get at the end of the season. That's even more important."

Joining Johnson on the six-member preseason All-Big West team were Larry Anderson (Long Beach State), Kyle Austin (UC Riverside), Eric Wise (UC Irvine), Joe Harden (UC Davis), and Mark Payne (UC Davis).

UCSB opens the season with an exhibition game at 3:00 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 7 when it hosts Sonoma State. The regular season will tip-off on Saturday, Nov. 14 when the Gauchos host Cal State Los Angeles.

Williams and some members of his team will join head women's basketball coach Lindsay Gottlie and her squad at the Gaucho Huddle on Wednesday, Nov. 4 at the Cabrillo Arts Pavilion from 10 a.m.-12:45 p.m. Both coaches and their players will talk about the upcoming season and take questions from the audience. The cost is just $10 and includes lunch. For more information or to RSVP, please click here.

Men's and women's basketball season tickets are now available, giving fans an opportunity to catch the Gauchos all season long.

Season tickets are only $125 for men's basketball and $100 for women's basketball (35% lower than last year). Similar to the successful men's soccer family plan, a new Family Plan season ticket is now available for both men's and women's basketball. Family plans, which include five season tickets (two adults and three youth season tickets), are $300 for men's basketball, $225 for women's basketball or get the combo plan (both men's and women's) for just $400. That's just $2.66 per game! UCSB faculty/staff will also receive 50% off pricing on all season tickets.

And, purchase tickets before Nov. 1 to receive a complimentary Olé bobblehead doll! Click here to learn more about season ticket packages or to buy today!

UCSB Athletics has a new weekly radio show called Talk'n Gauchos which airs every Tuesday from 6-7 p.m. on AM 1490 KIST. The show is broadcast live from State & A Bar and Grill, located on the corner of State Street and Anapamu Street in Santa Barbara. Fans are encouraged to attend the show for free gear and ticket giveaways or to even e-mail a question in to one of the guests and have it read live over the air. The show also airs live online via audio streaming and fans can click here to check out the entire lineup of live audio streaming online.

All men's and women's basketball games will be broadcast live on AM 1490 and AM 990 again this year, and those games will also be available online. And, UCSB Athletics is proud to announce that the baseball team will have over 20 games broadcast live on the air and through our website, UCSBgauchos.com.

Media Poll Results
1. Long Beach State (17) 209
2. UC Santa Barbara (6) 178
3. Cal State Northridge 130
4. UC Riverside 127
5. Pacific (1) 126
6. UC Davis 114
7. Cal State Fullerton 90
8. UC Irvine 76
9. Cal Poly 30

(first-place votes in parentheses)