Sunday, October 12, 2014

Early College Basketball Non-Conference Upset Alerts

http://bustingbrackets.com/2014/09/12/early-non-conference-upset-alerts/
UCSB @ SMU 12/8 

Even without Emmanuel Mudiay, SMU is a hot pick as a team to break out this season. With a highly respected coach in Larry Brown and a roster full of the guys who almost won the NIT last season, the Mustangs do appear primed for a big season.

While dates at Gonzaga, Michigan, and Indiana will be the main non-conference stressors for SMU and its fans, Alan Williams and his Gauchos lurk in the shadows, ready to strike.
Williams is a legitimate star, and gets ignored far too often because he plies his trade in the basketball Siberia of the Big West (ironically, UCSB is basically paradise for an 18-23 year old in all other respects. Fair trade-off).

The big man averaged 21.3 and 11.5 on 53% shooting last year, and should push those numbers even higher last year. If UCSB is able to dominate the Big West as many think they should, Williams will be a potential All-American. He’s that good.

The ‘Chos will also bring back sharp shooter Michael Bryson (11.5 PPG and 4.3 RPG, shot 42% from beyond the arc) and point guard and leading assist-man Zalmico Harmon (8 PPG and 5 APG). They are an experienced bunch, and with a workhorse like Alan Williams, they won’t be afraid of any Mustangs.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

UCSB Set to Battle No. 2 UCLA on NSCAA TV

http://ucsbgauchos.com/sports/m-soccer/2014-15/releases/201409170397g3

Quotes on UCSB Freshman Justin Burks, from Coach Kyle Hageness


Gaucho Hoops ("GH"):  Coach Hageness, any chance I could get some quotes from you on Justin Burks?  Much appreciated.

Kyle Hageness ("KH"):  Happy to help.


GH:  I'm looking for overall comments on him as a person, on the court as a player, and off the court as a kid and student.

KH:  Justin Burks is a humble superstar talent.  In high school he was able to do everything for us within the context of our game plan, and without forcing opportunities, put 30 points and 10 rebounds in the stat sheet.  Off the court, Justin willingly volunteered to read to pre-school children on multiple occasions, took part in our at-risk elementary school mentor program, and helped collect donations for less fortunate members of our community over the holidays.  Justin really is the whole package, and it was a pleasure to coach him.


GH:  Specific questions might include his strengths and things he needs to work on with his defense and offense.

KH:  Justin Burks' all-around game is solid and he comes to play every night.  He is a true team player whose main concern isn't his stat line.  At the collegiate level, I believe he will need to work in the weight room to get his overall strength to equal his talent level.  


GH:  What makes him special as a player?

KH:  Justin can do everything.  He can bring the ball up the floor, take his man off the dribble, or go to work on the block.  Justin Burks is a special athlete that has the rare combination of outside shooting touch and athletic ability.  

GH:  Thanks again!

KH:  Anything else I can do to help, please let me know.  

Kyle Hageness

Science Teacher

Arbor View High School

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Quotes on 2014 UCSB Signee Ami Lakoju, from Coach Drew Gladstone

This is a direct quote from current St. Luke's School head basketball coach Drew Gladstone about Ami Lakoju.  He is a former trainer in the Connecticut area.
I actually just got the job at Ami's high school right as he graduated. With that being said, I am a trainer in the area and I happened to work with Ami over the past year so I can speak a little from that standpoint. Ami is first and foremost a class act off the court. A great kid with a heart as big as he is that will be an amazing addition in terms of character for the Gauchos. On the court, Ami is going to accept and embrace his role and do everything he can to help the team. A defensive minded player, Ami has a great defensive presence, great timing on blocked shots, and is going to do what it takes to help his team win. A total win for the UCSB program.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Jarriesse Blackmon Junior Highlights


http://youtu.be/k-LSmIlANUM

These are highlights of 2015 UCSB verbal commit Jarriesse Blackmon.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

UCSB 2014 - 2015 Season Preview By Men's Basketball Head Coach Bob Williams

This is Coach Bob Williams' preseason preview of the 2014 - 2015 UCSB men's basketball team. 

Frontcourt

Alan Williams had a great offseason.  He was dedicated in improving his body, worked on his skills, conditioning, and ball-handling.  He's better off the dribble, attacking with his face up game (vs. "butt-ball"), he's quicker, and more consistent defensively with both team and individual defense.  He knows it is crucial that he stays out of foul trouble so he is working on getting better position in the lane.  Last year, when Al was in foul trouble, the UCSB defense ranked near the bottom of the Big West.   When Al was NOT in foul trouble, the UCSB defense was among the best in the Big West.  What's overlooked about Al is he is a really good defender, he's smart, and has great feet.  While Al is great at creating space in the lane, he occasionally doesn't do it and ends up shooting a fade away jumper, for instance.  He developed a solid mid-range jumper last year, and has continued to improve on it.

Sam Beeler had a real wake up at the end of last season, when he faded down the stretch.  He has raised his commitment level to the game this summer.  He is bigger, stronger, more active, and more physical.  Sam performed well when Al was out last season, but he needs to be more of a factor when Al is healthy.  Sam has improved his mid-range jumper.  Last year in practice, he won numerous free throw competitions.  The contest rules were if a shooter hit the rim, he was eliminated.  Not only did the shooter have to make the free throw, he had to swish it.  Sam won several of them.  He needs to improve his confidence in order to shoot that way during games.  Coach Kevin Bromley is working on Sam with his shot.

Mitch Brewe is improved, and displaying standard growth.  He has a great work ethic, but needs to gain patience with himself, because he is so hard on himself.  Last season, he would allow one mistake to take him out of the game for two or three minutes.  His 3-point shooting needs to improve on the road, matching his high percentages at home.  He has to create a better comfort zone during away games.  He also needs to create more space on rebounding, not just jumping for the ball.  He needs to learn to rebound in front of him, not above him.  He is 6'7", has short arms, and doesn't jump very high, so he needs to create space on rebounds.  Creating space means using your lower body, arms, shoulders, core--essentially your whole body to gain positional advantage for rebounding opportunities and posting up.  Mitch is really tough, and has great instincts.

John Green has to find a way to stay healthy.  He is a major impact player, and can play the 3 and 4 on defense, but his is so skilled offensively that he can play the 2, 3, and 4.  He can bounce the ball,  drive, shoot it, post up, and pass it--he is very skilled.  Both his wrist and feet are healthy.  Keeping him healthy requires changing his workouts.  He undergoes physical therapy to change how his feet land and to keep his hips straight.  Instead of jumping rope or running, he's on the elliptical, the stationary bike, and in the pool.  They have backed off on his work outs, and will limit his minutes in a 3-game tournament.

Alex Hart's minutes are up in air.  He's definitely 6'10", and shoots it very deep.  He'll hit 5 or 6 in a row, and can change a game.  But he has to be more physical and aggressive.  He needs to bolster his confidence to adjust to the physicality of Div. 1 basketball.  He has improved so much from last year, so the redshirting was best for him--by far.

Ami Lakoju has improved already during his short time since arriving, proving his high motivation.  He's very coachable, has an unbelievable body at 6'8" and 260 pounds with long arms.  He has great quickness, can defend and rebound in the Big West right now.  He is a good 1-on-1 defender, while his rebounding and shot-blocking are already productive.  Offensively, he needs to learn how to use body, and create space to score. 


Backcourt

Michael Bryson had minor knee surgery to repair a smart cartilage tear, so they are controlling his return.  He had a great spring working on ball handling.  Last season, he was more consistent with his shooting, playing inside/outside, became a better defender, and improved his ball handling.  He is working on taking the ball off the bounce.  He is talented, strong, and is the only player who can defend the 2, 3, and 4 positions.  He's still growing and is over 6'5" now, and perhaps why he had knee issues.

The coaches are very pleased with DaJuan Smith and Gabe Vincent, as they are both highly aggressive, and a big upgrade from last year off the bounce.  They make good decisions off the bounce, are good passers, have better shot selection, and are better defenders.  Defensively, the backcourt is much better, including Zalmico Harmon and Eric Childress, who are also good defenders.

This may be the first defense since the team of Justin Joiner, Paul Roemer, and Jordan Weiner who can apply on-ball defensive pressure.

Gabe is solid in all aspects, and is as polished as any young player at UCSB since Branduin Fullove, who wasn't rattled as a freshman (Fullove may have been a more versatile scorer).  DaJuan is very good, plays hard, and a defensive stopper.  He excels off the dribble, in transition, in the open court, and is good at the rim.  He's crafty, makes good decisions,  and will play the wing.

At point guard, UCSB has never been better or as deep since Coach Williams has been at UCSB.  They are so much better off the dribble this year.  Last year, only point guards or occasionally Boswell could use on-ball screens, because the wings were turning the ball over too often.  This year, the 1, 2, and 3 positions will be able to utilize on-ball screens.

The team is committing fewer turnovers on ball screens, and hence are much more productive this season so far.  Production is tracked in practice and high turnovers--whether off ball screens, or post entries, and the numbers will determine whether a player will feature on-ball screens.

Magic Johnson was a high turnover guy, but was a big scorer and dished out many assists so his high production more than compensated for his high turnovers.  Perimeter ball handlers get in trouble during on-ball screens when defenders hedge or trap the ball, resulting in turnovers  The dribbler may try to split the trap unsuccessfully.   Or he may try to force in a pocket pass on the pick-and-roll that has closed.  A successful on-ball screen requires the dribbler to make the correct read, and have the skill set to execute the vision.  It may require extending the ball, enlarging the pocket to the rolling teammate, or splitting the trap correctly.

TJ Taylor is 100% healthy, is much more aggressive, and being pushed by Zalmico and Eric.  He knows he needs to be more physical, but he has good knowledge of the offense, passes the ball well and is a very good shooter.

Zalmico has improved from when he was a game-changer in the second half of last season.  Eric is  much better, more confident, and trusts the coaching staff more.  He doesn't get caught in the air as much, so his turnovers should be reduced.  Occasionally, Z will slide to the 2 defensively when UCSB plays small ball, with a wing at the 3, and Bryson at the 4.

Justin Burks will probably redshirt.  He is so gifted physically, is athletic, shoots well, and has a lot of length.

Generally speaking, the team is more physical this year than last season, and they were pretty physical in 2013 - 2014.  Bryson and Green are very physical for their size.

Between Hart, Vincent, Lakoju, and Burks, this has been Coach Williams' best freshman class since he can remember. 

Even though we lose Kyle Boswell and Taran Brown, we should have one of the best 3-point shooting teams in a while.  Bryson, Green, Brewe, Hart, Vincent, Smith, Taylor, and Harmon are all 3-point threats.  A point of emphasis will be quality of shots, finding the open man, and making the extra pass.

There will be more transition offense off the defensive pressure, but the Gauchos can also play really big.  They will have a bigger physical presence, but more importantly, they play physically instinctively, and don't need the coaches to force them to do it.

The Big West is bigger in the paint this year, and UCSB will be able to match that size, with guys like Lakoju.

Overall, this team is very competitive and deep this year--as deep as Coach Williams' fifth year at UCSB.  At the 5, behind Al Williams are Sam Beeler and Ami Lakoju.  Mitch Brewe is backed by John Green and Alex Hart.  Michael Bryson anchors the 3, but Green can play there as well.  Gabe Vincent and DaJuan Smith will battle for court minutes at the 2, while the 1 is solid with Zalmico Harmon, Eric Childress, and TJ Taylor.