Gauchos Head to Midwest, Open Season at Nebraska-Omaha

Gabe Vincent (Photo by Shane Roper)
Gabe Vincent (Photo by Shane Roper)

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This Week
Game No. 1
Friday, November 13, 2015 at 5:00 p.m. (PST)
UC Santa Barbara Gauchos at Univ. of Nebraska Omaha Mavericks

at UNO's Baxter Arena - Omaha, Neb.
On-Line Audio: TuneIn Radio and UCSBgauchos.com

Game No. 2
Monday, November 16, 2015 at 7:00 p.m. (PST)
UC Santa Barbara Gauchos at Cal Golden Bears

at Cal's Haas Pavilion - Berkeley, Calif.
TV: Pac 12 Network
On-Line Audio: TuneIn Radio and UCSBgauchos.com

The Gaucho Record
UC Santa Barbara finished the 2014-15 season with an overall record of 19-14 and a Big West Conference record of 11-5. The Gauchos advanced to their 12th postseason tournament when they made an appearance in the College Basketball Invitational, losing to Oral Roberts, 91-87. It was the program's 12th postseason appearance as a Division I program. UCSB was 1-0 in exhibition play this season as they defeated San Francisco State on Nov. 8, 66-45.

UCSB Will Be Without Bryson In Opener
UCSB will be without senior guard Michael Bryson, its top returning scorer, rebounder and three-point threat on Friday night at Nebraska-Omaha. Bryson will be serving a one-game NCAA mandated suspension after he played a game in an unsanctioned summer league last July. He will make his regular season debut on Nov. 16 at Cal.

Gauchos Play The First Of Many Games Away From Home
When UCSB opens the season at Nebraska-Omaha on Friday night, it will be the first of 10 non-conference games that will not be played at home. The Gauchos will play just three home games in the non-conference as they take on Oregon State (Nov. 21), USC (Dec. 3) and Point Loma (Jan. 2). They will play two games at a neutral site when they travel to Las Vegas for contests with Akron and Iona, but they will play seven true road games.

Gauchos Picked 2nd In Big West Preseason Media Poll  
UCSB was picked to finish second in the media's annual Big West Conference preseason poll. The Gauchos received two first-place votes and totaled 161 points. UC Irvine, the defending Big West Tournament champion was picked first with 19 first-place votes and 198 total points. Hawai'i was picked third with 133 points, Long Beach State was fourth with 128 points and UC Riverside was chosen fifth with 120 points.

Bryson Named To Preseason All-Big West Team
Senior guard Michael Bryson, a First Team All-Big West selection as a junior, was named to the Big West Conference's six-man 2015-16 Preseason All-Big West Team. Last season, Bryson averaged 13.9 points and 4.8 rebounds per game. He also led the Gauchos with 68 three-point baskets and he enters the season with 1,043 career points, tops among active Big West players. 

Possible Starters - Quick Fact
G 1 Eric Childress - Started the exhibition win vs. SFSU and had three assists in 15 minutes...Second on team with 70 assists as a sophomore.
G 2 Gabe Vincent - 2015 Big West Freshman of the Year...Struggled with his shot in exhibition (3-for-11), but had 10 points, six boards and five assists.
F 21 Mitch Brewe - Is likely to start in place of the suspended Bryson at Omaha...Had eight points and three rebounds in 16 minutes vs. SFSU.
F 31  John Green - After playing in just three official games over his first three seasons he played in all 33 last year...Had 23 points and 12 rebounds vs. SFSU.
C 44  Sam Beeler - Only UCSB player to play in all 94 games over the last three seasons...Started exhibition and had four points, seven rebounds in 19 minutes.

Probable Reserves - Quick Fact
F 0  Jarriesse Blackmon - Utah State Player of the Year is one of the team's most athletic players...Was scoreless with three rebounds in four minutes vs. SFSU.
G 3 Grant Troutt - Freshman from Dallas will get an opportunity to earn minutes as a backup point guard...Had two rebounds in four minutes vs. SFSU.
F 10 Maxwell Kupchak - Has been one of the surprises of training camp and could earn minutes at the four spot...Missed both FG attempts vs. SFSU.
G 11 T.J. Taylor - Fifth-year senior is one of the team's most dependable ballhandlers and three-point shooters...Had five assists in 24 minutes vs. SFSU.
F 12 Alex Hart - Always a three-point threat, he will play both the four and five spots...Did not get into the exhibition game vs. SFSU.
G 13  DaJuan Smith - Made 14 out of 21 field goal attempts in the last eight games of the 2014-15 season...Scoreless in 10 minutes in exhibition game.
F 14  Ami Lakoju - Redshirted the 2014-15 season after playing three games and 27 minutes...Logged five minutes and had one rebounds vs. SFSU.
G 24 Michael Bryson - His 1,043 career points are 25th most in school history and his 168 three-point baskets rank ninth all-time...Suspended for opener at UNO.
G 25 Justin Burks - Shoulder injury will slow him early in the season...Shoulder injury kept him out of exhibition game.

The Opponents
According to our records, UCSB and Nebraska-Omaha will be playing for the first time. The Gauchos' second opponent, Cal, is much more familiar. UCSB and Cal have played 10 times in a series that dates back to 1948. The Golden Bears hold a 9-1 all-time edge in the series. The last time the teams met, on Dec. 16, 2013 at the Thunderdome in Santa Barbara, the Gauchos defeated Cal for the first time ever, 72-65. It goes without saying that the Gauchos have never won in Berkeley. The last time the teams played in Northern California, Dec. 18, 2012, the Golden Bears recorded a 68-59 victory. 

The Gauchos In Openers 
UCSB has recorded an 11-6 record in season openers under Bob Williams. The 11-6 log includes last season's 69-59 loss at No. 5 Kansas. The Gauchos have won 10 of their last 12 season openers with the only other loss over that span coming at LSU in 2012. This will mark the 10th time under Williams that the team has opened the season on the road and in the previous nine, they have gone 3-6. Dating back to 1937-38, UCSB has gone 50-25 in 75 season-openers under seven different coaches.

On The Road 
UCSB ended the 2014-15 season with a record of 4-10 in true road games and a 7-12 record in all games away from home. The Gauchos went 4-4 in Big West Conference road games after going 0-5 in non-conference games. The five non-conference losses, however, didn't come against a bunch of pansies. Santa Barbara fell at Kansas (69-59), Florida Gulf Coast (81-75 in overtime), SMU (80-73 in overtime), Oregon (82-78 in overtime) and Oregon State (76-64). 

Williams Enters 18th Season As Longest Tenured Coach West Of South Dakota 
Bob Williams is entering his 18th season as head coach of UCSB men's basketball. Williams' tenure is the longest in school history, surpassing the previous mark of 16 seasons by Willie Wilton (1937-43, 1946-51, 1952-57). In addition to having the longest tenure in Gaucho history, he now stands alone as having the longest tenure of any program west of the Mississippi River. Williams has been in Santa Barbara one year longer than Mark Few has been at Gonzaga and one year longer than Steve Fisher has been at San Diego State. When UCSB plays at South Dakota State on Dec. 13, Williams will be in the rare situation of coaching against someone with a longer tenure than his. Scott Nagy has been at the helm of the Jackrabbits since 1995-96.

Williams Takes Aim At Win No. 300 At UCSB
At the risk of jinxing everything and making this a long year for everyone involved with the program, it must be noted that head coach Bob Williams enters the 2015-16 season with 288 wins in his time at UCSB and needs "just" 12 to become the first coach in school history to get to the 300 win mark. Overall Williams has 477 wins, but we're not going there.   

Gauchos Will Apply For Entry Into Pac 12
Ha! Got your attention. Actually, UCSB will remain in the Big West Conference for the foreseeable future, but a quick glance at its schedule could get you to wondering. As is usually the case, the Gauchos will play a difficult, road-heavy non-conference schedule, highlighted by five games against teams from the Pac 12. After opening at Nebraska-Omaha, they will play at Cal (Nov. 16). On Nov. 21, they will play their home opener against Oregon State. On Nov. 29, the Sunday after Thanksgiving, UCSB will play Bobby Hurley-coached Arizona State and four days later, on Dec. 3, USC will invade the Thunderdome. The final Pac 12 game will be at Washington on Dec. 28. In addition to the Pac 12 opponents. UCSB will play road games against San Francisco (Nov. 25), South Dakota State (Dec. 13), Vermont (Dec. 16) and Seattle (Dec. 30). The Gauchos will also play a pair of games at the South Point Hoops Classic in Las Vegas, taking on Akron and Iona on Dec. 21 and Dec. 22 respectively. The final non-conference game of the year will be the first game of 2016 when Point Loma comes to the Thunderdome on Jan. 2. 

The Glass Is Half Empty
The 2015-16 UCSB men's basketball team will be without two of its most important starters from a year ago when it opens the season at Nebraska-Omaha on Nov. 13. Alan Williams, the school's all-time leading rebounder and second-leading scorer, and two-year starting point guard Zalmico Harmon completed their eligibility last year and will need to be replaced. Williams was a three-time First Team All-Big West player while Harmon was the 2015 Big West Hustle Award winner. 

The Glass Is Half Full
Actually, the glass is a lot more than half full. The Gauchos return many of its top players from last season. Leading the way is senior guard Michael Bryson, a First Team All-Big West selection in 2015 and the team's second-leading scorer at 13.9 points per game. Senior forward John Green, an Honorable Mention All-Big West selection last season is also back. Green averaged 11.3 points and 4.1 rebounds per game and his numbers in the second half of the season were even more impressive. The third returning starter is sophomore guard Gabe Vincent, the 2015 Big West Freshman of the Year who averaged 10.1 points per game in his first season at UCSB. In addition to three returning starters, the Gauchos also return front court players Sam Beeler, Mitch Brewe and Alex Hart, and guards DaJuan Smith, Eric Childress and T.J. Taylor. Santa Barbara also adds guard Justin Burks and forward Ami Lakoju who each redshirted the 2014-15 season.

Working Overtime
In 2014-15 UCSB played a school record five overtime games. They went 1-4 in those games, defeating Mercer at the Great Alaska Shootout while losing at Florida-Gulf Coast, at SMU, at Oregon and vs. UC Irvine in the Big West Conference Tournament.season. 

Player information here.