UCSB kicked off the 2012-2013 men’s basketball season with a 74-50 victory in an exhibition game over La Verne College Thursday night at the Thunderdome.
With a rotation still undetermined for an inexperienced Gaucho squad, UCSB used 13 players in an attempt to find combinations that best worked on the floor. Sophomore center Alan Williams led UCSB with 17 points and seven rebounds as the Gauchos overcame a slow start to eventually overpower the Leopards.
“We were jittery at first.You expect it,”Coach Williams said.“They bothered us a little bit early, but as the game wore on, and our depth wore on and we got some rhythm in the game, I liked how we played.”
Down by five with seven minutes remaining in the first half, UCSB rode 18 consecutive points to a 37-24 advantage. Williams led the Gauchos with 11 points in the half to build a 37-26 halftime lead.
Overall, 11 players recorded double digit minutes for the Gauchos as the team tried to develop chemistry between specific rotations.
“If I get an open layup and I’m knocking it down, then great. But if I see an open shooter I’m going to swing it to him,” Big Al said. “That’s the good thing about this team … everybody on the floor can score. It’s about whatever the team needs and whatever coach tells us .”
Starting the game for the Gauchos were freshman guard Dalante Dunklin and forward Taran Brown, sophomore forward Lewis Thomas, Williams and junior guard Kyle Boswell. Thomas was second on the team with nine points, while Brown scored five points and grabbed seven rebounds.
“I like the chemistry. When you see teams that share the ball, I think it’s good chemistry,” Coach Williams said. “The fact that we are at this stage pretty darn unselfish is a good sign to me.” With a point guard battle brewing between four players, senior Nate Garth seemed to have the best night of the bunch with five points and a team-high five assists. “This team will peak in January and February, and I can guarantee that we’ll be at the top of the Big West,” Garth said. “We’re very talented and all we need to do is learn the ins and outs and the little things of the game, and that will make big differences.”
Providing a spark for Santa Barbara in the second half was junior forward Shawn Moore, who notched an impressive eight points and seven rebounds in a mere 10 minutes on the floor.
“I was happy for him [tonight], because he was really struggling in practice the last couple of weeks,” Coach Williams said. “I think tonight will give him a lot of confidence. I think he did a great job during his minutes. He’s begging for more minutes.”
Numerous freshmen logged playing time for UCSB as forward Mitch Brewe recorded seven points and six rebounds, while forward Sam Beeler had six points and three boards. Dunklin scored only two points, but contributed with four assists and two steals. Bryson added seven points during his time on the floor.
One area of concern for UCSB was the 18 turnovers committed compared to only 16 for La Verne.
“We made bad decisions, and I don’t know if it’s just first game jitters because we’ve been doing it a little bit in practice,” Coach Williams said. “It’s going to be a requirement that we get better with the basketball.”
UCSB begins regular season play at LSU on Nov. 9.