Wyoming vs. UC Santa Barbara: Get To Know The Gauchos
Who are the Cowboys facing off against to start the season?
Wyoming opens at home against the Big West.
The Wyoming Cowboys open up its season against UC Santa Barbara out of the Big West. The Gauchos were predicted to finish fourth in the conference, but who are they really?
1. Who are the key players that Wyoming needs to pay attention to?
The Gauchos have quite a bit of intriguing newcomers this season, but the offense really starts and ends with Max Heidegger. Labeling his sophomore season a “breakout campaign” almost doesn’t do it justice: He went from averaging 7.6 to 19.1 ppg last season while nearly doubling his accuracy from three (20.5 to 40.4%). With NBA range and a quick release, Heidegger is the best shooter in the Big West.
Aside from Heidegger, look out for Nevada transfer Devearl Ramsey and Ar’Mond Davis to round out the Gauchos’ strong backcourt. Four-star recruit Amadou Sow should be a favorite the Big West freshman of the year thanks to his wingspan and mobility around the rim.
2. Preseason expectations seem high for UCSB what are the expectations for this team?
UCSB’s season will come down to how its freshmen and incoming transfers gel. This time last year, the Gauchos were picked to finish fourth, but their transfers ended up meshing really well en route to a 23-win season and a second-place finish. This year has a similar narrative, but UCSB is a known commodity now.
They were picked fourth in the Big West’s Preseason Poll and our site picked them to finish first. The Gauchos have enough talent to win 20 games — especially with how mediocre their non-conference is — so I see them as an NIT-or-bust kind of team.
3. How good are the Gauchos on the road, because Wyoming has an extremely good home-court edge?
Last year’s team benefitted from an 11-game home winning streak, but was not as effective on the road. Six of UCSB’s nine losses were on the road and only two of their road wins were by more than 10 points. Wyoming’s home court edge coupled with this being the first game of the season will definitely be a factor.
4. What is the plan to slow down Wyoming’s leading scorer Justin James?
Despite coaching under Arizona’s Sean Miller for quite some time, Joe Pasternack’s team struggled immensely on defense last season. Nevertheless, one holdover from Pasternack’s stint at Arizona is that the Gauchos will only play a pack-line, man-to-man defense.
Expect either athletic junior guard Christian Terrell (who was UCSB’s best defender last year) or experienced Alabama grad transfer Ar’Mond Davis to try staying on James throughout the game.
5. How do you see this game playing out?
Personally, I wouldn’t mind if Heidegger and Justin James throw defense out the window and trade buckets throughout the game, but this probably won’t happen. I see this being a close game that’ll come down to guard play and which team makes the least amount of mistakes on defense. I’m a Big West homer, so I like Heidegger making some shots down the stretch to lead UCSB to an 81-76 win.