November 19, 2008

Gauchos Host Top-Ranked North Carolina Friday

Nov. 19, 2008

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• The Schedule
Game No. 3
Friday, November 21, 2008 at 7:00 p.m.
UC Santa Barbara Gauchos vs. North Carolina Tar Heels
at UCSB's Thunderdome
Game broadcast on KIST 1490-AM
Game available on Gametracker by clicking here.
The Game will be televised by ESPNU

Game No. 4
Monday, November 24, 2008 at 7:00 p.m.
UC Santa Barbara Gauchos at USF Dons
at USF's War Memorial Gym
Game broadcast on KIST 1490-AM

Channel Guide
Friday's game against North Carolina will be televised on ESPNU with Steve Physioc and Jason Williams calling the action. On Direct TV, ESPNU is channel 614. On Dish Network ESPNU is channel 148. To find out if your local cable provider has ESPNU, click here.

• This Week
UC Santa Barbara will host No. 1 North Carolina on Friday, Nov. 21 at 7:00 p.m. in the Thunderdome. The game against the Tar Heels is a sellout, but plenty of good seats remain for all other Gaucho home games and are available from the Ticket Office in the Intercollegiate Athletics Building on campus, by calling 805-893-UCSB, or online at by clicking here. Following the game against UNC, Santa Barbara will go on the road for five in a row, starting with a match-up at the University of San Francisco on Monday, Nov. 24 at 7:00 p.m.

The Gaucho Way: Good Sportsmanship And Behavior
As a championship-caliber program, UCSB Athletics recognizes the responsibility that goes with it. This simply means all student-athletes, staff, and fans will behave with a champion's approach, creating a safe environment at games and events. All of those who attend, compete, or work at Gaucho events are caretakers of the passionate, exciting, and great experience UCSB is known for. This is "The Gaucho Way." For more on "The Gaucho Way", click here.

• Gauchos Drop Heartbreaker to Utah State
Matt Formisano scored on a put-back with three seconds left to give visiting Utah State a 61-59 lead over UC Santa Barbara on Monday night. Gaucho guard Jordan Weiner missed a desperation shot from above the top of the key at the buzzer, and the Aggies held on for the win. UCSB, which trailed Utah State by as many as 12 points on two occasions in the second half, rallied from a nine-point deficit with 4:15 to play. After Jaxon Myaer hit a three-pointer to give the Aggies a 59-50 lead, the Gauchos ran-off nine straight points, capped by a three-point basket from senior guard James Powell to tie the score at 59-apiece with just 30 seconds left. That set the stage for Formisano's heroics. The Gauchos were led by Powell and Chris Devine who had a game-high 14 points apiece. Jesse Byrd had a career-high eight, points and he led UCSB with five rebounds. Freshman guard Will Brew, Jr., and freshman center Greg Somogyi were both instrumental in UCSB's second half comeback. Brew two points, but also had a game-high five assists and three steals, all in the second half, to fuel the rally. Somogyi had four points, all on resounding slam dunks, four rebounds, and a blocked shot.

• The Gaucho Record
UCSB will enter the game against North Carolina with a 1-1 record. Prior to losing a tough-one to Utah State, the Gauchos opened the season with a 64-55 win over Cal State Los Angeles. In 2007-08, UCSB set a school record with 23 wins.

• UCSB Picked 2nd By Big West Coaches, Media
The Gauchos have been picked to finish second in the Big West Conference in the annual polls of the conference's coaches and media. Cal State Northridge, which, along with Cal State Fullerton and UCSB, tied for the regular season league crown in 2007-08, was picked to win the title in both of this year's votes. Pacific and Fullerton were selected third and fourth respectively, with the coaches choosing UC Davis fifth and the media picking Long Beach State.

• Time Change For Jan. 29 Home Game Against Cal State Northridge
The UCSB-Cal State Northridge Big West Conference game, originally scheduled for 7:00 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 29, has been moved to 8:00 p.m. to accommodate ESPNU, which will televise the game nationally.

• Possible Starters - Notes
G - 1 - D.J. Posley - Had three steals in the loss to Utah State and leads the team with four.
G - 4 - Paul Roemer - Has made the first two starts of his career in first two games.
G - 42 - James Powell - With 120 career three-pointers, has moved into eighth all-time at UCSB.
F - 10 - Chris Devine - Has now scored 1,174 career points, 15th all-time. Needs 26 for 13th.
F - 44 - Jesse Byrd - Scored eight points and had five rebounds in Utah State game.

• Possible Reserves - Notes
F - 0 - Jaimé Serna - Is the team's top rebounder at 5.5 per game.
G - 2 - Nick Quick - Played two minutes in opener but was a DNP in Utah State game.
G - 3 - Jordan Weiner - 16 of his 18 career field goals are from three-point range.
G - 11 - Justin Joyner - Injured wrist will force him to redshirt 2008-09 season.
F - 15 - Sam Phippen - Scored career-high six points, including first three-pointer vs. Utah State.
G - 20 - Will Brew, Jr. - Had five assists and three steals to lead comeback vs. Utah State.
G - 21 - James Nunnally - Has made a three-point basket in each of the first two games.
C - 55 - Greg Somogyi - Had four points and four rebounds, all in second half vs. Utah State.

• Joyner On The Shelf
Junior point guard Justin Joyner will miss the 2008-09 season as he rehabilitates his surgically-repaired right wrist. The Big West-leader in assist-to-turnover ratio and the Gauchos' leader in assists in 2007-08, Joyner played his entire sophomore season with a broken bone in the right wrist, starting all 32 games.

• The Opponents
The Gauchos and North Carolina have played twice. The Tar Heels have won both meetings between the schools, defeating the Gauchos in November of 2005, 83-66, and in December of 2007, 105-70. • UCSB and the University of San Francisco have played 34 times since their first meeting in 1961. The Dons hold a 23-11 all-time edge, but the Gauchos have won the last three games. In 2007-08, they won in Santa Barbara by a score of 74-69.

The Bob Williams File
Bob Williams is in his 11th season as head coach at UC Santa Barbara. In 2007-08, Williams guided the Gauchos to a 23-9 overall record. The 23 wins were a school record, and UCSB also won its second Big West regular season title with a 12-4 conference record. Following the campaign, the Gauchos were awarded a bid to the National Invitation Tournament. It was the third time that a Williams-coached UCSB team advanced to postseason play. The 2002 Gauchos won the school's first Big West Tournament title, advancing to the NCAA Tournament, and in 2003, they won the league's regular season championship and played in the NIT. Williams has been selected Big West Coach of the Year twice, in 1998-99 and 2002-03. In 1998-99, he took over a UCSB program that had not recorded a winning season in five years, and after seeing his team lose its first eight games that year - extending a two-season losing streak to 16 straight games - the Gauchos turned things around, winning 15 of their final 20 games and finishing on top in the Big West's Western Division. Williams has a UCSB record of 164-132. He guided the program to eight winning seasons in his first 10 years, and a pair of 20 win seasons. He has a career record of 100-64 in Big West games. Prior to his arrival at UCSB, Williams 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's 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 an overall career record of 353-232 (.604) at four-year schools.

• First Things First
North Carolina will enter Friday's game at the Thunderdome as the top-ranked team in the country. The Tar Heels, who are 2-0 with wins over Penn and Kentucky, went to the Final Four in 2008. The last time UCSB played the No. 1 team in the country was on Dec. 22, 2007 when they played at Chapel Hill. You have to go back significantly further to find the last time the Gauchos hosted the top-ranked team. The last time a No. 1 team played in Santa Barbara was on Jan. 21, 1991 when UNLV defeated the Gauchos 88-71.

• Can We Move The Line Back In?
I know, it's early, but through two games, UCSB is struggling from three-point distance. The Gauchos have made 10-of-34 shots, 29.4%, from outside the new-and-improved arc. Last year, they were a very good three-point shooting team, finishing at 41.0%. Guard James Powell, who set a school record by making 46.7% of his threes last year, has yet to heat up, making 3-of-14, .21.4%, in the first two games. On the bright side, Santa Barbara's first two opponents won't be writing any letters home about their three-point shooting either. Cal State Los Angeles and Utah State have made just eight out of 29 attempts, 27.6%. In 2007-08, Gaucho opponents shot 31.4% from three-point distance. To this point in the season, UCSB has just two players who have made more than one three-pointer, junior guard James Powell has made three and freshman James Nunnally has made two.

• Solving The Turnover Issue
For one game anyway, UCSB solved its turnover problems. While we don't want to get too far ahead of ourselves, the Gauchos did take a step forward in Monday night's game against Utah State. After turning the ball over 22 times in a season-opening win over Cal State Los Angeles, UCSB had just 12 in the game against the Aggies. After two games, the Gauchos are averaging 14.0 turnovers per game. The opponents, on the other hand, went in the opposite direction. Cal State Los Angeles had 16 in the opener and Utah State committed 22 on Monday night.

• On The Rebound
In 2007-08, the Gauchos were an average rebounding team. In 2008-09, the coaches expect them to be much improved in that area. Through the first two games, plus the exhibition, the jury is still out. In an exhibition win over Cal State Dominguez Hills, Santa Barbara was outrebounded by a 40-33 margin. In the regular season opener, however, UCSB won the battle of the boards with a healthy 11-rebound margin, 41-30. On Monday, against the Aggies the tables were turned as Utah State had an 11-rebound edge, 36-25. The Aggies also had 12 offensive rebounds, the last of which came with three seconds remaining in the game and led to the game-deciding basket.

• A Fresh Start
UCSB has played four freshmen in each of its first two games and that is not likely to change. The significance is that it has marked the first time since the 2000-01 season that the Gauchos have used four freshmen in a single game. Forward Jaimé Serna, center Greg Somogyi, and guards James Nunnally and Will Brew, Jr., have each played significant minutes in the first two games. The last time a Gaucho team played four, or more, freshmen in the same game was during the 2000-01 season.

• Devine Intervention
Senior forward Chris Devine, a Collegeinsider.com preseason mid-major All-American, leads the Gauchos in scoring after two games. Devine had 17 points in the win over Cal State Los Angeles and 14 in the loss to Utah State. He is at 15.5 points per game after two games. The 31 points he has scored on the season, gives him 1,174 career points, the 15th highest total in school history. He needs just 26 to hit the 1,200 point mark and move into the 13th slot. In the opener, Devine had 17 points and 11 rebounds. It was his first double-double since the 2006-07 season, and the 10th of his career. However, after collecting 11 rebounds in the first game, the Alaska native had just two in the loss to Utah State. Last year, he was second on the team at 5.4 rebounds per game, the lowest average in his three seasons at UCSB.

• Old Buddy, Old Powell
Along with Chris Devine, James Powell is UCSB's top returning scorer. As a sophomore in 2007-08, Powell averaged 12.3 points per game. Through two games this season, he is averaging 15.0 per game. He had 16 in the opener and 14 on Monday night. While he is yet to hit his stride from three-point range - he has made just 3-of-14 - Powell did make a long one in the final 30 seconds against Utah State to tie the score at 59-59. Last year, Powell made 79 three-point baskets, the second-highest total in school history, and he shot 46.7% from outside the three-point arc, a new school record. Following the season he was named Honorable Mention All-Big West. Finally, in the season-opener against Cal State Los Angeles, Powell had a career-high seven rebounds.

• The Word On Byrd
Junior forward Jesse Byrd seemed to find his groove in the game against Utah State. After struggling in the exhibition and the season-opener, Byrd had eight points and five rebounds in 18 minutes against the Aggies. He made four of his five field goal attempts in the game. The eight points were four short of the personal best he set against Cal State Fullerton during his freshman season at the University of San Francisco, where he played his first two years.

• Strike A Posley
Senior guard D.J. Posley has started both games for the Gauchos, playing a career-high 24 minutes in each. In the opener against Cal State Los Angeles, he had five assists, the second-highest total of his career. On Monday he had six points, on 3-of-4 from the field, to go along with three steals. One of the best defensive players on the team, Posley had just one steal in the opener, but bounced back with the three on Monday night. His six-steal performance in UCSB's Big West Tournament game against UC Irvine last year was the highest total by a Gaucho in eight seasons and despite ranking eighth on the team in minutes played as a junior in 2007-08, he was third in steals with 36.

• Roemer Wasn't Built In A Day
When his former high school teammate Justin Joyner was sidelined for the season while rehabbing his wrist, junior guard Paul Roemer inherited the starting point guard position. While he played in all 32 games last year, Roemer had never made a start until the opener against Cal State Los Angeles. Against the Golden Eagles, he played a career-high 28 minutes, and he played 21 more against Utah State. Through two games, Roemer has yet to hit his stride, with just three assists and five turnovers. As a sophomore, he had the second best assist-to-turnover ratio on the team with 54 assists and just 38 turnovers.

• Something Is Brewing
As the result of a concussion, Will Brew, Jr., missed several practices and UCSB's exhibition game against Cal State Dominguez Hills. In the season-opener against Cal State Los Angeles, he made his debut, playing 11 minutes while scoring five points, including a three-point basket. In Monday's narrow loss to Utah State, Brew scored just two points, but it was his defense and play-making that were the catalysts as the Gauchos eliminated a nine-point deficit to tie the score in the final minute. The Oakland, Calif., native finished with five assists, just one turnover, three steals, and a pair of rebounds in 19 minutes of action.

• Somogyi Won't Be Just So-So
Another freshman of impact for the Gauchos has been 7-foot-2 Greg Somogyi. Playing 11 minutes, eight of which came during UCSB's second half rally, the native of Hungary had four points, four rebounds, and a blocked shot. His two baskets came on slam dunks, one on a lob pass and the other on a follow, and both got the fans going crazy. In his two games, Somogyi has now played 17 minutes and scored six points, grabbed six rebounds, and blocked three shots.

• The Other Two
Brew and Somogyi are not the only two freshmen of impact for UCSB. Guard James Nunnally and forward Jaimé Serna are also key players. Serna, in fact, has played more minutes than any of the other three and he is second on the team in rebounds at 5.5 per game. He had seven boards in the opener against Cal State Los Angeles and four against Utah State. Serna is averaging 3.0 points per game. Nunnally, who has yet to find his shooting touch from inside the three-point line, is averaging 4.0 points per game. He is 2-for-3 from three-point range, but has missed all five of his two-point field goal attempts.

• Sam I Am
Sophomore forward Sam Phippen scored a career-high six points in the defeat to Utah State. The six points, which included the first three-pointer of his career, were one-point shy of the seven points he scored in 19 games last season. Through two games, Phippen also has six rebounds, also one short of his total from 2007-08.