#106 UC Santa Barbara Men's Basketball 2016-2017 Preview

UC Santa Barbara Gauchos
2016-2017 Overall Rank: #106
UC Santa Barbara has some big holes to fill, but Coach Bob Williams always seems to find a way. Last season the Gauchos ended the regular season on a high note, winning their final eight games. Following a win over UC Davis in Anaheim at the Big West tournament, the Gauchos lost to Hawaii. It was still enough to get an invite to the Vegas 16, but once again the Gauchos won a single game before heading home. This time around UCSB will be looking to Gabe Vincent to emerge as the team’s go-to scorer. As a sophomore last year the 6-3 guard averaged 14.1 points and connected on 38.5 percent of his three-point attempts. Vincent is not just a shooter though and he can score by attacking the basket. He will be taking a bulk of the big shots for the Gauchos with most of the other proven scorers gone.
2015-16 Record: 19-14, 11-5
2015-16 Postseason: Vegas 16
Coach: Bob Williams
Coach Record: 307-238 at UCSB, 307-238 overall
Who’s Out:
Michael Bryson was the main scorer last season. He capped off a great collegiate career by averaging 18.0 points. He was a superb scorer from everywhere on the floor and the hope is Vincent is ready to take over and be as consistent and productive as Bryson has been. The backcourt will also have to move on without Dajuan Smith, T.J. Taylor, Grant Troutt, Justin Burke and Sam Walters. Smith and Taylor played key roles off of the bench. The losses in the frontcourt are just as significant. John Green was just a part-time starter during his senior season, but he was third on the team with 10.8 points per game and second with 5.1 rebounds. Sam Beeler was the team’s starting center. He was not a great interior scorer, but Beeler was able to supply size in the paint. Mitch Brewe played a big role off of the bench, averaging 5.4 points per game.
Who’s In:
Coach Bob Williams adds another quality class that will help UCSB overcome their losses. The class is highlighted by junior college transfer Jalen Canty. The 6-8, 265 pound forward adds a much needed presence in the paint. Canty is the tough interior player UCSB needs. He can score in the paint, hit the glass effectively and block some shots. Incoming freshmen Felix White and Tyler Jackson will attempt to make an impact, but they will likely need time to develop. The backcourt adds Christian Terrell, Max Heidegger and Clifton Powell. Terrell is a versatile guard who can play anywhere on the floor. Heidegger is a bit of a wildcard for now. He can run the point, but he is a good scorer too. If his shot is falling, Heidegger could play a key role off of the bench. Powell is another versatile guard, but he is more of a pure point guard and could step right into the backup point guard role.
Who to Watch:
There will not be many minutes available for a backup point guard though with Eric Childress coming back. He had a superb junior year, averaging 6.6 points and 4.3 assists. Childress will be the leader on the floor and can do a bit more scoring now that he might need to do so. But the bigger potential is in the frontcourt where Maxwell Kupchak and Jarriesse Blackmon hope to build off of successful freshmen campaigns. Kupchak was a part-time starter and averaged 3.7 points and 2.6 rebounds. With more shots to go around, Kupchak could turn into a much bigger force in the paint. Blackmon averaged just 9.0 minutes per game, but he did earn a few starts. Along with junior Alex Hart and the newcomers, the frontcourt has some talent. They are just lacking experience.
Final Projection:
This will be an interesting year for UCSB. Last season they responded quite well despite losing some great players. The talent always seems to be there even if the experience is not. And that is certainly the case heading into the 2016-2017 campaign. Childress is the lone senior on the roster and there are only three juniors as well, one of which is Canty who has not played for UCSB yet. There are better years coming for the Gauchos, but for now competing for a Big West title and reaching some sort of postseason tournament will be a great step towards better things in the near future.
Projected Postseason Tournament: CBI / CIT / V16
Projected Starting Five:
Eric Childress, Senior, Guard, 6.6 points per game
Christian Terrell, Freshman, Guard, DNP last season
Gabe Vincent, Junior, Guard, 14.1 points per game
Maxwell Kupchak, Sophomore, Forward, 3.7 points per game
Jalen Canty, Junior, Forward, DNP last season
By the Numbers:
Scoring Offense: 70.8 (232nd in nation, 6th in conference)
Scoring Defense: 67.2 (59, 4)
Field-Goal Percentage: 44.2 (172, 3)
Field-Goal Defense: 40.0 (27, 2)
Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 7.6 (112, 4)
Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 36.0 (114, 3)
Free-Throw Percentage: 70.1 (159, 3)
Rebound Margin: 1.8 (129, 3)
Assists Per Game: 15.0 (68, 3)
Turnovers Per Game: 12.7 (175, 4)