The UC Santa Barbara men’s basketball team has secured 8 wins out of their first 10 games, launching the 2022-23 season off to a great start. With four out of five starters returning and earning the best record out of their conference so far, the roster is looking strong and has hopes to return to March Madness, the National Collegiate Athletic Association’s postseason basketball tournament.

Context

Common measures that basketball statisticians use to analyze the basic level of how good a team or player is at scoring are 2P%, 3P%, FG%, PPG and PTS.

2P%, or 2-point percentage, is the percentage of shots made that count for 2 points. 3P%, or 3-point percentage, is the percentage of shots made behind the 3-point line.

If a player shoots 5 two-point shots in a game and makes 3 two-point shots, his 2P% is 60%. If a player shoots 5 three-pointers in a game and makes 2 two-point shots, his 3P% is 40%.

FG%, or field goal percentage, is the total percentage of 2-point and 3-point shots made. To calculate a player’s FG%, divide the total number of shots made by the total number of shots taken. For example, if a player took 10 shots, and made 3 two-point shots and 2 three-point shots, their FG% is 50%.

PPG, or points per game, is the average amount of points a single player scores per game. PTS, or points, is the total amount of points scored by the whole team or an individual player at the end of the game.

Team and player statistics

Offense has been a strong point for the Gauchos in recent years. The Gauchos led the Big West Conference in the 2021-22 season with a 49.4 FG%, which is very efficient. Compared to all the Division 1 teams across the country, the Gauchos ranked third in FG% as a team.

The Gauchos also were tied for the highest average PTS per game with California State University Long Beach, both averaging 73.8 PTS per game. Looking at one of the best men’s basketball conferences, the Big 12, the average score in conference matchups was 70.41 points per game. Thus, showing that the Gauchos were on par with some of the best teams in the country last year.

Jake Jensema / Daily Nexus

Jake Jensema / Daily Nexus

Analyzing the 2022-23 season compared to last year, the statistics are very similar to the prior year. However, since the season is only a third of the way finished, these numbers may level out throughout the season when conference games start on Dec. 29.

Looking at the players who contribute to this high-powered offense, we can pinpoint who the main offensive weapons are for the Gauchos this season.

Jake Jensema / Daily Nexus

In previous seasons, there are one or two “star” scorers who have a much higher PPG than the rest of their team. After the stars, we expect to see an exponential drop-off in scoring. In the 2021-22 season, forward Amadou Sow averaged 15.6 PPG, which meant Sow was accounting for 20.5% of his team’s average 76 PTS per game in the 2021-22 season.

The next highest scorer, guard Ajay Mitchell, averaged 11.6 PPG, which accounted for 15.2% of the Gauchos’ average 76 PTS per game. These two players accounted for 35.7% of the Gauchos’ points every game. This is a huge chunk, with the rest of the 48.8 points coming from six to seven players on the roster.

The big stars this season are third-year starters, forward Miles Norris and Mitchell. Norris is off to a great start this season increasing his scoring from 10.3 to 13.1 PPG, while Mitchell has become the new lead scorer for the Gauchos this year, improving his scoring from 11.6 to 14.7 PPG.

Both Norris and Mitchell have improved their scoring by 27% from last year. These two big offensive stars will definitely be interesting to follow as the season continues. As of Dec. 18, the Gauchos have a record of 8-2, the best record in the Big West.

Attendance trends and predictions

Over the past 10 years, attendance at UCSB men’s basketball games has been slowly declining. Attendance has diminished by more than 50%, from averaging almost 2,900 fans during the 2011-12 season to a low of 1,260 last year, the lowest average turnout in recorded history.

There was no data during the 2020-21 season due to COVID-19. The season still took place, but fans were not allowed to attend. So far, for the 2022-23 season, data for attendance hasn’t been logged for every game. At the seven games where attendance was recorded, turnouts have been relatively low, at an average of around 722.

Malay Patel / Daily Nexus

Coaching and team record statistics

It has been five seasons since Joe Pasternack took on the role of head coach for the UCSB men’s basketball team, and the Gauchos have become a dominant force in the Big West Conference. The team has since gone on to win both the Big West regular season championship and the Big West Conference tournament in 2021, and was also able to make an appearance in March Madness.

Prior to Pasternack taking on the role, the Gauchos had undergone a terrible year in the 2016-17 season. At ninth place in the Big West and with 6 wins out of 28 games, the Gauchos had a disastrous season. Afterward, coach Bob Williams, who had served as the coach for almost 20 years, was fired.

In March 2017, Pasternack was hired as the head coach and was given just a few months to improve this team before the next season.

In just one season, Pasternack took the team to win 23 games out of 32, which was the most wins of any UCSB men’s basketball team coach’s first season.

When asked about this incredible first season, Pasternack refers to a procedure he calls, “Our Process.” This follows a disciplined and focused lifestyle: waking up early, staying on top of hygiene, not skipping any classes, scoring high grades, eating a healthy lunch, practicing basketball daily, sleeping early and repeating this firm routine.

After the establishment of “The Process,” the Gauchos have been consistently scoring above 70 points per game, on average, for the past five seasons. This is in addition to having, on average, more assists and a higher field goal percentage.

Defensively, under Pasternack, the Gauchos have had fewer turnovers and more steals compared to the seasons previous to his hiring, and have held their opponents to fewer points. Pasternack credits the student fans and the student body for these great changes and accomplishments.

Pasternack is proud of the work that he and his team have accomplished. “We really want to make our home court a dominant powerhouse in the Big West. We’re actively working with the student body to get more students attending our games, offering things like giveaways,” he said.

The Gauchos have not just improved in the season, but also in the conference standings. The team won more games under Pasternack on average than before and consistently scored more points than their opponents on average. The team also has been able to hold their opponents to fewer points in the conference.

The 2020-21 season was when the Gauchos, under Pasternack, had their greatest success. They won the Big West regular season championship, placing first on the standings, and the Big West Conference championship. They had the best win-loss ratio that the Gauchos have ever had and Pasternack was awarded the Big West Coach of the Year. The Gauchos won all 11 home games.

When asked about this outstanding season, Pasternack uses one word: “Sacrifice.” He recalled how many players had to sacrifice their roles or individual statistics for the good of the team, and how they stayed strict and disciplined due to and during the threat of COVID-19.

He further describes how the more senior players were dead set on winning. Having gone three long years without any success, these players wanted a win more than anything, especially since this would be their last season for the Gauchos.

The graph below shows the Gauchos’ win rate based on the coach. Pasternack has the best win rate at 70.0%, which is 15.4% above the next-best win rate.