Game Preview: UCSB

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by: John Chase

UCSB comes in with a 5-2 record, both losses coming in overtime. Their most recent game was a 65-61 win over USD. This game had a chance to turn into a loss when a few Santa Barbara fans threw tortillas on the court with .6 seconds remaining. Rather than assess the Gauchos with a technical, the refs opted to give the fans a formal warning and let play continue. A technical would have meant two free throws and possession of the ball. Making both free throws and sinking a quick shot could have given USD a 1 point win instead of a 4 point loss.

The Gauchos are a pretty solid offensive team averaging nearly 80 points and over 40 rebounds per game. They are also dishing out 16 assists per game and hitting around 46% from the field. Their defense is fairly proficient as well, allowing only 66 points and 33 boards per game.

Santa Barbara is only forcing 12 turnovers per game but are committing only 11 per game themselves. They have very solid point guards who know how to handle pressure situations and make the smart decision nearly every time. The Husky defense will need to bring the pressure hard to force the UCSB guards into uncomfortable situations.

Orlando Johnson is a superstar for the Gauchos. He leads the team in every major statistical category. He is averaging over 22 points, almost 7 rebounds, 3.5 assists, and over a steal per game. Johnson has been absolutely stellar thus far and the Huskies will need to work their defensive magic to control his impact on the game. At 6-5 205lb, Johnson is a bit of a mismatch for both guards and forwards. I suspect C.J. Wilcox or Terrence Ross will draw this assignment as they have the length and athleticism to stay in his face and play more preventative defense.

James Nunnally is another strong player for Santa Barbara. At 6-7 205lb, Nunnally is a bit small for a forward, but taller than your average guard. He is averaging 18 points and nearly 6 boards per game. He is a fantastic free throw shooter with 31 makes on 38 attempts. He also has decent range with 11 makes on 33 attempts from deep. I suspect Desmond Simmons will draw this assignment should he take Aziz N’Diaye‘s starting position. Simmons has the speed, mobility, and tenacity to play tight D on Nunnally anywhere on the court.

Jamie Serna rounds out the tough UCSB back court. He is listed at 6-9 and 235lb. He is the only other double digit scorer with 11.6 points per game. He is also third in rebounding at 4.9 boards per game. Serna is not an outside shooter, but he does do a solid job of drawing fouls and has attempted 30 free throws on the year.

Santa Barbara also features 7-2 245lb Greg Somogyi from Hungary. Somogyi averages only 12 minutes, 3 points, and a bit under 4 rebounds per game.

Predicted Starting Line-Ups:

Santa Barbara:

G – Nate Garth 6-2 180lb
G – Christian Peterson 6-3 219lb
G – Orlando Johnson 6-5 205lb
F – James Nunnally 6-7 205lb
F – Jamie Serna 6-9 235lb

Washington:

G – Abdul Gaddy 6-3 185lb
G – C.J. Wilcox 6-5 190lb
G – Terrence Ross 6-6 195lb
F – Desmond Simmons 6-7 220lb
F – Darnell Gant 6-8 230lb

Keys to the Game:

  • Defensive Pressure – With a strong UCSB frontcourt and the absence of N’Diaye, the Huskies will have their work cutout for them when it comes to containing the oppositions scoring in the paint. Simmons and Gant will need to step up their games and the Husky bench will need to rise to the occasion. This means Shawn Kemp and Martin Breunig need to shake off the freshman jitters and establish themselves as contributing members of the team on a consistent basis.
  • Rebounding – The Gauchos know how to rebound and so do the Dawgs. After watching Duke take apart the Huskies on long rebounds, it’ll be interesting to see how UW bounces back and if they can bang down low with Nunnally and Johnson. The Husky backcourt needs to go back to what they were doing to start the year by collapsing on the boards and picking up the mid range stuff outside the grasp of our frontcourt.
  • Free Throws – If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a thousand times. Free throws win ball games, plain and simple. Ross and Wilcox are simply not doing enough to get to the line. So much so that Wilcox has not attempted a free throw in 5 games. Tony Wroten has more makes than anyone else on the team has attempted and his free throw shooting, while seemingly improving (thank god), is still terrible on the season. The UW backcourt, and even the frontcourt, can and needs to do much more to draw shooting fouls. Play through the contact, go strong to the hoop, pull of some dribble moves to get the defender off balance and make it happen.

Final Score Prediction: UW-86 UCSB-76
 
This is the first of 5 straight home games for the Huskies who have sorely missed the confines of Hec-Ed. The terrible road woes continue to be an issue, but something that must be corrected immediately if they want to get back the NCAA.

I think this is a winnable game for the Dawgs as they have a better backcourt and a decent enough frontcourt to content with the Gaucho big men. The key is playing a solid 40 minute rather than the 25 or 30 they have been the past few games. 4-4 is a bad place to be, especially considering they have lost the last 4 of 5.

These guys know how to win, they just need to execute and not give up early. Wroten has been tough these past few games and is really proving how valuable he is to this team. Yes, the turnovers are maddening and against Duke he went from a point guard to a shooting guard since no one else was attacking the rim. He may very well continue to develop this role if Wilcox and Ross refuse to draw fouls. While I appreciate the nice inside shots Wilcox took and made against Duke, he stopped well short of contact that could have had minimal effect on his shot and drawn a foul as well. UW needs to do everything it can to get Johnson into foul trouble early. This means a fast, motion offense with plenty of screens and players running hard and tight off of those screens.