#139 UC Santa Barbara Men's Basketball 2013-2014 Preview

UC Santa Barbara Gauchos

2013-2014 Overall Rank: #139
Conference Rank: #2 Big West

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The 2011-2012 campaign was a transition year for UCSB. A rash of injuries did not help matters and the Gauchos finished the year with a 7-11 conference mark and an uncharacteristic bottom half of the table finish in the Big West. However, the injuries, assuming everybody can get and stay healthy, may bode well for the team this season. Suddenly there is a lot of experience and plenty of depth. Once again it will be center Alan Williams that leads the way. As a sophomore last year the 6-11 Phoenix, Arizona native led the Gauchos with 17.1 points, 10.7 rebounds and 2.3 blocks per contest. He is a difference maker on both ends of the floor and one of the best rebounders in the country.

2012-13 Record: 11-20, 7-11
2012-13 Postseason: None
Coach: Bob Williams
Coach Record: 248-201 at UC Santa Barbara, 248-201 overall

Who’s Out:
Nate Garth was the only senior on the roster last season and he missed a big chunk of the year due to an injury. However, the point guard was a solid distributor and defender even if his offense never really came around. But UCSB has plenty of depth at point guard now, so Garth’s absence will not be a major problem. The only other departure is Lewis Thomas, a 6-7 wing who started 21 games as a sophomore, yet only averaged 13.7 minutes and 1.8 points per contest.

Who’s In:
Zalmico Harmon could run the point from day one. The Gauchos have not had the best of luck in recent years with expectations regarding their new point guards, but Harmon is the real deal. He spent some time at Ventura College where he averaged 15.8 points and 5.9 assists. He is a great shooter from anywhere on the floor and has the leadership skills to take over the team and run a smart offense that works through Williams in the paint. The backcourt also adds incoming freshman point guard Eric Childress and redshirt freshmen Aamahd Walker and John Green. Green received a medical redshirt after breaking his foot last summer. The 6-5 wing is extremely versatile and amazingly athletic. He can play as an undersized power forward, which will happen during Big West play when a 6-5 forward is usually adequate. But when Coach Bob Williams needs to play bigger, he can slide Green over to the three spot. He does need to get healthy though and regain his explosiveness. The lone newcomer up front is Alex Hart, but the Gauchos can let him continue to polish his game for a year.

Who to Watch:
T.J. Taylor will battle it out with Zalmico and Childress for minutes at the point. Taylor lacks the scoring potential that Zalmico brings to the table, but he is an experienced ball handler who dished out 4.1 assists per game last year and only averaged 1.8 turnovers. It is also very possible that Zalmico could slide off the ball on occasion if Coach Williams wants two quality ball handlers on the floor. But that may not happen too often since UCSB has so many other options on the wing. Kyle Boswell spent most of last year coming in off of the bench and he has played very well in that role. Boswell is the best shooter on the team and knocked down 41.9 percent of his attempts from beyond the arc. Starting or not, Boswell will be on the floor in crunch time. Michael Bryson was playing his best basketball late in his freshman season and he could be in for a big sophomore year. After averaging 8.4 points and 3.5 rebounds, Bryson will be looked upon to carry a bigger load with a year of experience under his belt. Taran Brown is one of the more interesting players in the Big West. The 6-8 sophomore is getting stronger, but he is pretty much a really big shooting guard. As a freshman he averaged 11.1 points and 5.3 rebounds. Brown can get trigger happy from beyond the arc, yet that is not a horrible thing when they are falling. He can be so much more than a shooter now that he has gained strength.

Final Projection:
Williams is the obvious leader of the frontcourt, yet there are plenty of options to help him out. Keegan Hornbuckle played at Colorado as a freshman, but his whole career has been hindered by injuries. If he stays healthy, Hornbuckle has the talent to start. Mitch Brewe only played 19 games as a freshman, but he was pretty productive when on the floor. Fellow sophomore Sam Beeler is another big body who should be much improved after a year in the system. Like the backcourt, the frontcourt has options and depth. There are certainly some unproven players in the mix, but Coach Williams knows how to get the most out of his team. However, even he cannot do anything to help on the injury front.

Projected Postseason Tournament: CBI/CIT

Projected Starting Five:
Zalmico Harmon, Junior, Guard, DNP last season
Michael Bryson, Sophomore, Guard, 8.4 points per game
Taran Brown, Sophomore, Forward, 11.1 points per game
Keegan Hornbuckle, Senior, Forward, 2.8 points per game
Alan Williams, Junior, Center, 17.1 points per game

By the Numbers:
Scoring Offense: 64.6 (246th in nation, 9th in conference)
Scoring Defense: 67.4 (193, 5)
Field-Goal Percentage: 41.9 (242, 9)
Field-Goal Defense: 42.1 (137, 2)
Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 8.0 (26, 3)  
Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 34.6 (134, 5)
Free-Throw Percentage: 69.2 (183, 5)
Rebound Margin: 0.7 (155, 6)
Assists Per Game: 14.7 (46, 5)
Turnovers Per Game: 14.4 (254, 7)


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