In three games for the UCSB men’s basketball team, the junior scoring duo of guard Orlando Johnson and forward James Nunnally have been the story, averaging 42 of the team’s 65 points a game. But the team is 1-2 after losing to North Dakota State and Oregon last week at the Ducks’ BTI Invitational last weekend.
“We need to surround Nunnally and Orlando with a little better offense,” Head Coach Bob Williams said.
The remaining members of the team — which was predicted to finish first in the Big West in a preseason poll — have the chance to step up in the Gauchos’ first home game tomorrow against Fresno State (1-1 overall). In the two teams’ last meeting in the 2010 ESPN BracketBuster, UCSB beat the Bulldogs 64-60 in Fresno.
“We’re going to have to bring it,” Johnson said.
In their 72-70 loss to Oregon last Sunday, the O-James duo combined for 52, but the Gauchos also received some offensive production from freshman guard Kyle Boswell, who scored eight points after going 3-3 from the field and hitting two of his shots from behind the arc. Fellow freshman guard Troy Leaf played 11 minutes in the absence of junior guard Will Brew, who was elbowed in the eye against North Dakota.
“They’re both very, very good players,” Johnson said. “I think both of them will make an impact once they get some more games under their belt, get some experience.”
Williams claims the pair of 6’2’’ freshman guards are more offensively oriented than Brew, who is arguably one of the Gauchos’ best perimeter defenders.
“Probably neither one of them is 6’2”. Shit, I’m 6’2” and a half and I tower over those little Smurfs,” Williams joked. “They’re great kids though: really big personalities, really fun to be around.”
Fresno is a much different team than the Gauchos played last season, with only three players remaining from last year. Most notably, the Bulldogs have lost their 6’ 8’’ guard-forward Paul George, the tenth pick in the 2010 NBA draft who currently averages six points a game for the Indiana Pacers.
“[He was] a pretty big loss,” Johnson said. “They’ve got a bunch of [junior college] players, so we don’t know too much about them.”
Still, the Bulldogs have another NBA prospect in their sophomore center Greg Smith, who stands at 6’ 10” and weighs 250 pounds. According to Johnson, he was the Freshman of the Year in the Western Athletic Conference.
Tomorrow’s game begins at 7 p.m. at the Thunderdome.
“It’s a great opportunity to get off to a good start here at home,” Williams said.