#90 UC Santa Barbara Men's Basketball 2014-2015 Preview

UC Santa Barbara Gauchos

2014-2015 Overall Rank: #90
Conference Rank: #1 Big West

UCSB Team Page#90 UC Santa Barbara Men's Basketball 2014-2015 PreviewBuy UCSB Basketball Tickets

UCSB had 21 wins heading into the Big West Tournament and they were certainly among the favorites to represent the conference in the NCAA Tournament. However, the Gauchos ran into a Cal Poly squad that shut them down and was destined to surprise everybody. In the end UCSB lost that game 69-38 and that has certainly left this team hungry heading into 2014-2015. With Alan Williams back for his senior season, this is a team that will be right in the mix for a conference title once again. Williams, a 6-8 center, averaged 21.3 points, 11.5 rebounds and 2.4 blocks last season. He only failed to reach double digits once all of last season and that was in the only game he fouled out of. He totaled 16 doubles-doubles and there are not many opposing defenders that can stop him. Considering how much he has dominated over the last three years, it will be fun to see what he does as a senior.

2013-14 Record: 21-9, 12-4
2013-14 Postseason: None
Coach: Bob Williams
Coach Record: 269-212 at UC Santa Barbara, 458-312 overall

Who’s Out:
The Gauchos do lose a few key contributors from last year’s team. Guard Kyle Boswell almost always provided an offensive spark off of the bench, averaging 10.4 points per game and knocking down 42.9 percent of his many attempts from long range. The only other senior on last year’s roster was Shawn Moore, a role player who averaged 11.0 minutes per game. But Taran Brown has opted to transfer and he was a nice complimentary forward to Williams. On the year, Brown started 24 games and averaged 7.2 points and 4.4 rebounds.

Who’s In:
Junior college transfer DaJuan Smith and incoming freshman Gabe Vincent figure to make the biggest impact among Coach Bob Williams’ five newcomers. Smith, a 6-3 wing, is a tough defender and a decent all-around scorer who can help replace the outside shooting lost with the departure of Boswell. Vincent may not be quite as polished overall as Smith, but he is a better pure shooter. If Vincent can start knocking down shots at UCSB like he did in high school, there will be major minutes for him. Wing Justin Burks, redshirt freshman Alex Hart and forward Ami Lakoju will have a tougher time finding playing time. Lakoju is a tough 6-9, 260 pound forward who does not lack the physical strength to battle in the paint. There are not many minutes to go around behind Williams at the five spot since he averaged 31.1 per game last season, but Lakoju is an option to backup Williams.

Who to Watch:
The frontcourt is well established with Williams, but the backcourt is turning into a very good unit for UCSB as well. Zalmico Harmon dished out 5.1 assists per game and committed a mere 1.1 turnovers. That assist-to-turnover ratio was good enough for second in the nation. This is a team that shares the ball amazingly well and Harmon is the reason why. He is also a decent enough scorer and is a threat to shoot from outside. Backup point guard Eric Childress is too good to only spell Harmon. As a freshman he dished out 3.1 assists per game. Childress’ turnover numbers are high compared to Harmon’s lofty standards, but he was just a freshman. T.J. Taylor was a starter by the end of the 2012-2013 campaign, but he missed last year with an injury. Taylor is yet another player who can handle the ball and expect Coach Williams to have two point guards on the floor for large stretches this season. Harmon is certainly a good enough shooter and defender to match up against opposing shooting guards. But there needs to be room for Michael Bryson too. Bryson is the team’s top returning scorer not named Williams at 11.5 points per game. It may be asking a lot for John Green to stay healthy, but if he does, he will find time on the wing. Foot and wrists injuries have been the main reason he has missed most of the last three seasons. At 6-5, Green can even play the power forward spot and that would be nice for a team that has so much talent on the perimeter.

Final Projection:
When UCSB has to play big, Coach Williams will call on Mitch Brewe and Sam Beeler. Brewe averaged 4.1 points and 3.4 rebounds last season and has a nice shot for a 6-8, 242 pound forward. Offensively, this is a team that basically plays a four out, one in with Williams hanging in the paint. The issue will be defensively and in the rebounding department when the Gauchos match up with a bigger team…like that Cal Poly squad that outrebounded UCSB 38-29 in the Big West Tournament. That is when Beeler and Lakoju need to step up. Most of the time those two will be backups for Williams at the five, but in those situations when this team has to play bigger and stronger, somebody has to turn into a true power forward.

Projected Postseason Tournament: NCAA Tournament

Projected Starting Five:
Zalmico Harmon, Senior, Guard, 7.8 points per game
Michael Bryson, Junior, Guard, 11.5 points per game
John Green, Junior, Guard, DNP last season
Mitch Brewe, Junior, Forward, 4.1 points per game
Alan Williams, Senior, Center, 21.3 points per game

By the Numbers:
Scoring Offense: 71.2 (165th in nation, 3rd in conference)
Scoring Defense: 65.3 (58, 3)
Field-Goal Percentage: 46.4 (59, 3)
Field-Goal Defense: 40.0 (25, 2)
Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 7.0 (101, 2)
Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 38.5 (35, 1)
Free-Throw Percentage: 70.8 (147, 3)
Rebound Margin: 2.4 (110, 4)
Assists Per Game: 15.9 (13, 1)
Turnovers Per Game: 11.2 (67, 2)


See All Top 144 Basketball Previews