UCSB Continues Competitive Non-Conference Stretch With Louisville, NC State This Week
Nov. 22, 2006
Game No. 4
Friday, November 24, 2006 at 7:00 p.m.
UC Santa Barbara Gauchos vs. No. 24 Louisville Cardinals
The Thunderdome (6,000)
Game No. 5
Sunday, November 26, 2006 at 2:00 p.m.
UC Santa Barbara Gauchos vs. North Carolina State Wolfpack
The Thunderdome (6,000)
The UC Santa Barbara women's basketball team wraps up its season-long three game homestand this week with match-ups against Louisville and North Carolina State in the Thunderdome. The 11-time defending Big West Conference champions will take on the Cardinals, who cracked the Associated Press Top 25 this week with a 4-0 record. UCSB and UofL will square off Friday at 7:00 p.m. The Gauchos will then host the Wolfpack, a 3-1 squad that also received votes in the AP media poll, with tip-off scheduled for Sunday at 2:00 p.m.
The Gaucho Record
UCSB enters competition this weekend with an overall record of 1-2, after falling 85-77 at the hands of Oregon last Friday. The Gauchos won their 12th season opener in the last 13 years with a 82-65 victory over Portland State to kickoff off the 2006-07 campaign November 10, but lost at Pac-10 power UCLA 82-65 two days later. In its only game of the week, Santa Barbara trailed by as many as 18 points in the first half, but saw its comeback effort fall short against the Ducks. The Gauchos defeated Cal Poly Pomona by a 88-73 margin in their only preseason tune-up of the year. Last season UCSB finished with a 16-14 overall record and won a share of yet another Big West title with a 10-4 mark in conference play. The Gauchos advanced to the WNIT, where they fell 78-59 at Fresno State in the Preliminary Round.
UCSB on the Air & Web
Both of this weekend's games will be broadcast on KIST 1340 AM in Santa Barbara. The contest with both Louisville and NC State, along with every other UCSB women's basketball game in 2006-07, will be broadcast live. Steve Wendt is back for his third season as the play-by-play voice of the Gauchos alongside former Los Angeles Laker and UCSB star Don Ford, who will provide most of the color commentary. Broadcasts begin 15 minutes prior to tip-off with the "Gaucho Pregame Show". Fans can also catch all games live via the internet by going to www.ucsbgauchos.com and purchasing the "UCSB All-Access Pass". With this option hoops fans can enjoy live audio and video from the comfort of their homes courtesy of CSTV.
Gauchos Can't Keep Up with Oregon, Fall 88-77
On Friday, November 17, UCSB saw its four-game home winning streak dating back to last season snapped when the University of Oregon came to town and shot a very impressive 47.4% from the floor on the way to a 85-77 victory. Led by 12 points from freshman guard Taylor Lilley off the bench, the visitors scored the first six points of the game and led by as many as 18 in the first half. Down by the same margin with 10:56 left in the second, the Gauchos used a 13-0 run that included four points apiece from junior Jessica Wilson and freshman Ariana Gnekow, and a three point hit from sophomore LaShay Fears to pull within five at the 6:59 mark. That was as close as Santa Barbara would get, as the Ducks responded with a decisive 7-0 spurt in a span of 1:15 to go back up by 12 at 71-59. For the game, UCSB shot a respectable 48.2%--including 57.6% (19-for-33) in the second period--and out-rebounded Oregon 35-33, but turned the ball over a total of 17 times to just 12 for their opponents and never held a lead in the game. Wilson led the way offensively with 28 points on 9-for-19 shooting, while Fears chipped in with 19, and junior Jenna Green added 15. Lilley finished with 27 to lead the visitors. The Ducks drained six of nine shots from beyond the three point arc, a blistering 57.9% in the eight point win.
Mark French returned to his alma mater at the start of the 1987-88 season and women's basketball at UC Santa Barbara has never been the same. Now in his 20th season as head coach of the Gauchos, French has had an immensely successful career, posting a record of 397-180 (.688) while at UCSB and an overall mark of 495-294 (.627). Since the 1991-92 campaign, a period spanning 15 years, French's Gauchos have won 12 Big West Conference titles and advanced to 11 NCAA Tournaments--including five second rounds and a Sweet 16 appearance--as well as two Postseason WNITs. Individually, French has earned an unprecedented seven Big West Coach of the Year honors, while in 2002-03 he was named WBCA District 8 Coach of the Year and a finalist for the Naismith National Coach of the Year award. He is the dean of Big West coaches, with nine more years of experience in the league than any of his current counterparts. French is just five wins from his 500th career victory and three shy of his 400th victory at UCSB.
Probable Starters - Notes
G - LaShay Fears - Made a career-high five three pointers in the loss to Oregon Friday.
G - Whitney Warren - Did not play against Oregon after starting vs. Portland State and UCLA.
G - Jessica Wilson - Leads the team averaging 23.3 points and 5.7 assists per game.
F - Jordan Franey - Averaging 28.7 minutes per contests, tops among freshmen.
C - Jenna Green - Team leader pulling down 8.7 rpg to go with 14.3 ppg.
Probable Reserves - Notes
G - Ariana Gnekow - Was one point, two rebounds shy of a double-double in first-career start last Friday.
G - Meagan Williams - Played a season-high 15 minutes at UCLA November 12
G - Kim Smith - Sank two free throws for first points of 2006-07 against the Bruins.
F - Ashley Hall - Walk-on has taken just one shot in nine minutes this season.
C - Jessica Goble - Buried first-career hoop in Gauchos' win over the Vikings November 10.
Scouting the Cardinals
UCSB first game of the week comes against Big East power, the University of Louisville. Friday's contest will mark the third meeting between the two schools after the Gauchos defeated the Cardinals 78-67 at the Time Warner Cable Classic in Lincoln, Neb. in 2001 led by Jess Hansen's 18 points in the first-ever match-up. Louisville returned the favor in the second meeting, posting a 76-56 win last season at Freedom Hall.
The Cardinals enter Friday's showdown with a record of 4-0 after wining their season opening tournament and defeating Furman 89-44 Sunday. Louisville cracked the AP Top 25 for the first time in program history this week, registering at No. 24. Sophomore guard Angel McCoughtry leads the team offensively, averaging a team-high 17.3 points and 8.5 rebounds per outing, while her backcourt partner, senior Helen Johnson averages 13.5 ppg and has made 45.25 of her three-point attempts (14-for-31). The Cardinals are averaging 85.2 points through four games in 2006-07, while limiting their opponents to just 51.8 per game.
Scouting the Wolfpack
Following the contest with Louisville , UCSB will welcome ACC member North Carolina State to the Thunderdome. The Gauchos have squared off with NC State just once before Sunday's scheduled clash, with Santa Barbara coming out on top 71-66 in Raleigh, N.C. in 2002. Lindsey Taylor led the way with a double-double of 16 points and 11 rebounds, while Kristen Mann added 14 points and 11 boards of her own.
The Wolfpack own a record of 3-1 after losing to Purdue in the Preseason WNIT Semifinals and defeating UNC Wilmington 63-48 Sunday. NC State will play at Arizona Friday night before facing the Gauchos on Sunday. Entering the game with the Wildcats, junior forward Khadijah Whittington is the player to watch on offense, leading the squad averaging 11.5 points per game and also averages a team-high 10.5 rebounds and 2.25 steals per contest. Sophomore guard Shayla Fields is second in scoring, averaging 10.0 points so far in 2006-07 and is the team leader in both three point (.455) and free throw shooting (.867). The Wolfpack have a +10.0 scoring margin and have turned the ball over six fewer times than their opponents this season.
On a Mission
One of the keys to the Gauchos' success in 2006-07 is getting consistent, aggressive play from junior guard Jessica Wilson. So far so good. From the early goings this season, it has been evident that the Sacramento, Calif. native has been focused and eager to prove she is one of the top players on the West Coast. Wilson is averaging 23.3 points and 5.67 assists per game, both totals that easily lead the team and the Big West Conference. She also leads the Gauchos averaging 3.0 steals per contest and is draining 50% (4-for-8) of her attempts from beyond the three point arc, which rank second and third in the BWC, respectively. Wilson opened the season with a bang, posting a career-high 30 points on 12-for-20 shooting to lead UCSB to a 88-73 victory over visiting Portland State November 10. She also finished with six rebounds, five assists and was just one shy of her career steals mark with six in the win over the Vikings. Wilson was impressive once again in Friday's loss to Oregon, making 9-of-16 shots on the way to 28 points to go with eight boards and five assists.
While Wilson has been on a tear to start the season, junior center Jenna Green has been quietly getting it done in the post just like she did all of last year. After establishing career highs with averages of 14.4 points, 7.4 rebounds, and 1.2 blocked shots per game in 2005-06, Green enters competition this weekend second on the squad at 14.3 ppg, which ranks seventh among Big West performers, while her 8.7 rebounds per game and field goal percentage of .529, register fifth and second, respectively. The San Jose, Calif. native is also averaging 1.67 blocked shots per night, the second highest mark in the BWC. Green made six of 12 shots and finished with a double-double of 14 points and 11 rebounds in the Gauchos season-opening victory over Portland State November 10. She followed that performance with a 14-point effort at No. 23 UCLA two days later and put in a season-high 15 in last Friday's defeat at the hands of Oregon.
Fears Yes, Fearless No
In her second season as the Gauchos' starting point guard sophomore LaShay Fears has definitely been playing with the confidence of a player that has a full year at the Division I level under her belt. The first true freshman to start at the one in nine years, Fears averaged 6.2 points and 2.07 assists in 30 games during her rookie campaign a year ago, highlighted by a 20-point performance in the overtime win over UCLA. This season, her scoring is up considerably with an average of 14.0 points per game, the third highest total on the squad. Fears is second on the team in both free throw shooting at 80.% and three point shooting, hitting 42.9% of her treys. The Palmdale, Calif. native leads the Gauchos in minutes played, averaging 35.0 minutes per contest. Fears scored 15 points in UCSB's season-opener against Portland State, including eight at the charity stripe, and tallied four assists and three steals. The sophomore made 7-of-11 shots on the way to a season-high 19 points in the loss to the Ducks.
One of the first things that head coach Mark French mentioned about Jordan Franey when she arrived on campus was that she had dreamed of playing on a big stage at the Division I level for quite some time. Through the Gauchos' first three games this season, the freshman forward has had the opportunity to contribute and has made the most of it. Franey has started all three games this season and leads all freshman averaging 28.7 minutes per game. The San Diego native is averaging 9.7 points, 2.3 rebounds and 1.7 assists per contest. She leads the team in foul shooting at 85.7% and has made five of her 16 attempts from three point range, 31.3%. Franey was one of four Gauchos to score in double figures with 11 points in the win over the Vikings two weeks ago and went 4-for-8 from three point territory for 12 points in the loss to the Bruins November 12.
Getting to Know Gnekow
Another freshman that has made an immediate impact so far in 2006-07 is Ariana Gnekow. She came in off the bench in UCSB's season opener and finished with five points and nine rebounds, six of which came at the offensive end of the floor, in just 20 minutes. After recording six points and five boards at UCLA, Gnekow earned her first career start in the game against the Ducks and finished with nine points, eight rebounds, and three assists. Second on the squad averaging 7.3 rebounds per game, her hustle and blue collar type of play have already made her a fan favorite among the Gaucho faithful.
UCSB Lands Three Prized Recruits
On Wednesday, November 8, UCSB announced the signing of three high school seniors to National Letters of Intent during this year's early signing period. Ashlee Brown, a 6'0" forward from Good Year, Ariz., a 5'11" guard Courtney Collishaw of Visalia, Calif., and Margaret Johnson, a 5'11" forward from Lake Oswego, Ore. will join the Gauchos next season as true freshmen. Brown was named to the 2005-06 Arizona Tribune First Team and garnered First Team All-Fiesta Region accolades after averaging 21 points, 16 rebounds, five steals, four assists, and three blocked shots per game as a junior at Chandler High School. Collishaw signs with UCSB after earning Cal-Hi Sports All-State Junior Second Team honors at Redwood High School. She was named to the CIF Central Section First Team after scoring 22.6 points per game a year ago. Johnson enters her final season at Lake Oswego High School having guided the team to a second place league finish in 2006 at 10-4 and an 18-8 overall record. In 2007-08 Santa Barbara will also gain the services of 5'10" guard Lauren Pedersen, a junior transfer from UCLA. A native of Brea, Calif., she played two seasons with the Bruins, averaging 2.5 points and 1.6 rebounds in 54 career games while making 11 starts during that span. Pedersen will have two years of eligibility at UCSB starting next season.
Gauchos Look To Start Streaking
2005-06 was a very disappointing year by UCSB standards. Finishing just 16-14 last season and losing in the WNIT First Round, Coach French and the Gauchos had a number of streaks broken that they will be looking to reestablish this year. UCSB saw its streak of nine consecutive Big West Tournament titles come to a crashing halt after the narrow loss to UC Riverside in the title game. That being said, Santa Barbara did not receive the automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament and its string of nine-straight trips to the Big Dance was also severed. With a total of 16 victories, UCSB saw its span of 10 seasons with at least 20 wins broken, as well. Finally, although the Gauchos did win the Big West regular season title, they shared the honor with Long Beach State, which snapped their streak of 10-straight outright conference championships--a run that was the longest in the nation. Needless to say, UCSB will aim to start a new set of streaks in 2006-07.
O'Bryan, Thomas Leave UCSB
On October 17, head coach Mark French announced that two key players would not be with the Gauchos in 2006-07. Guard Erin O'Bryan and forward Shantel Thomas both left the program citing personal reasons. O'Bryan, who appeared in 27 games for UCSB last season, averaging 6.9 points, 2.2 rebounds, and 1.5 assists, will not be back for her senior season. Thomas, on the other hand, is expected to return at some point, provided she maintains her eligibility. The Sacramento, Calif. native appeared in 25 games as a true freshman in 2005-06, averaging 2.5 ppg and 2.6 rpg in 11.2 minutes per contest.
Less than a month later, the coaching staff was dealt more bad news when the decision was made that Kat Suderman will redshirt in 2006-07. The San Luis Obispo, Calif. native will be inactive this season as she rehabilitates from a knee surgery she had last spring. Suderman was one of only two players to appear in all 30 games last season, starting eight games for UCSB. She posted career-highs averaging 6.2 points and 6.1 rebounds in 21.2 minutes per game. Over the past two seasons, Suderman has appeared in a combined 56 games, more than any other Gaucho over that span.
Following this weekend's games with Louisville and NC State, the Gauchos have an East Coast trip with dates at Maryland and Richmond on the schedule. UCSB will take on the top-ranked Terrapins Saturday, December 2 at 4:00 p.m. (PST) and then bus to Virginia to face the Spiders Sunday, December 4, with tip-off slated for 4:00 p.m.