Seven years later, UCSB Head Coach Bob Williams will step onto the UC Davis campus for the first time since he took the Aggies to a Division II National Championship.
Williams will likely find that a lot has changed since he transferred from the northern UC, just east of the hills that started the UC empire.
Most noticeably, the DII tag has been tossed aside, and with it the idea of dominance. In the Williams era of Davis’ Pavilion, the Aggies postured a .772 winning percentage. Even after William’s departure, Davis continued to wield power over the Division II landscape, which is part of the reason it has climbed the NCAA ladder.
Williams, in progressing his own career, might have helped build a monster that could potentially cause him a midlife crisis. So far, Davis’ transition into DI competition has been a struggle, but they have beaten three Big West teams in the lower rung of the conference (Long Beach State, Cal Poly and Riverside).
It wouldn’t be too much of a stretch to predict the Gauchos to be next on the Aggies’ list. Consider:
1. The Gauchos will be playing on the road where they have lost nine in a row.
2. The last time the two teams met in Santa Barbara, Davis kept the game within reach until the final 30 seconds.
3. UCSB is coming off arguably their worst performance of the year: a 30-point loss to Utah State.
4. The Gauchos’ scoring average is at its lowest mark since the season began at 58.8 points per game, while Davis is averaging 66 points per contest.
5. See #1.
With eight years of memories stirring in his mind, Williams’ task of getting his Gauchos focused will be that much more difficult. The past might have been sweet, but it’s still the past. The present is what will matter, and implications for the future will be the subtext.
After UCSB beat the Aggies on Jan. 15, Williams noted that he didn’t think it would take Davis as long to adjust to the Big West as most people thought it might. Tonight, we’ll find out if it will take longer than one game for the Gary Stewart-led Aggies to adjust to the Gauchos. Rest assured that Stewart, an assistant at UCSB the year before Williams was named Gaucho head coach, wants this one as badly as any.