Literally speaking, tonight’s game between UCSB and San Diego State will not be a battle of David versus Goliath. However, figuratively speaking, it will be.
“I’ll go with the midgets; the midget team will start,” Head Coach Bob Williams said.
The “midgets” Williams refers to is the quartet of senior guard Chrismen Oliver, junior guard Joe See, freshman guard Alex Harris and junior guard-turned-forward Josh Davis. All will start alongside senior forward Casey Cook tonight at San Diego State, with Cook being the only of the bunch over 6’5″.
The Gauchos, still rattled by injuries, will have to make do with four true guards in their starting lineup against a San Diego State team that features three 6’8″ players on the front line.
“It really hurts us in the rebounding aspect. Offensive and defensive rebounding will be tough, and we’ll be a much more perimeter-oriented team,” Williams said. “We have to hope that we can rebound with them, and we need to shoot the ball like we did against Westmont to have a chance.”
Against Westmont, Santa Barbara shot 50.9 percent from the field and 50 percent from three-point land, marks that would probably get the job done at San Diego State, but SDSU is certainly not Westmont.
The return of sophomore forward Glenn Turner to the lineup will undoubtedly bolster the Gaucho front line and allow Cook to drop into the four slot where he is most comfortable. Without Turner in the game, Davis will maintain the power forward position, a move that the Gauchos feel helps them just as much as it hurts them.
“[Davis] is a strong player so if he really gets down and battles with the bigs, then we can run, but we’re all going to have to rebound,” Oliver said.
The injury to junior guard Cecil Brown is the latest on a list that already includes junior Cameron Goettsche, sophomore David Kennedy and redshirt freshman Chris Devine. Brown is expected to miss six to eight weeks with a partially torn medial collateral ligament in his right knee, but all is not lost for UCSB. His injury will allow true freshman Alex Harris to start tonight in his first real game in a Gaucho uniform.
“I am a little nervous, but the two exhibition games really helped me get through that. Once you get out on the court you realize it’s still basketball; it’s what you’ve been doing all your life,” Harris said. “The first couple of times up and down might be a little nerve-racking, but you just have to shake it off.”
Harris, one of the most highly anticipated recruits in the Bob Williams era, has already shown signs of promise in the first two exhibition games, but tonight will be his first formal test against Division I talent.
“With a freshman it’s really funny; he could go out there and just be on fire and be oblivious to what we’re doing, or he could be intimidated because it is a big-time arena,” Williams said.
San Diego State should be a formidable opponent for the Gauchos and comes off a 14-16 season returning three starters and eight letter-winners. The Steve Fisher-led Aztecs have made the postseason two of the last three seasons, and Williams will have his work cut out for him.
“They’re very big, with a front line of 6’8″, 6’8″, 6’8″, and come off the bench with 6’9″, 7’0″,” Williams said. “They have an experienced backcourt, very good off guard, a point guard that is a freshman