UC Santa Barbara Gauchos
| MESSAGE BOARD
RECORD: 25 - 6
REGION: East SEED: 11
COACH: Mark French CONFERENCE: Big West
Road to the Final Four ...................................................................................
|PLAYER TO WATCH|
Though the 6-foot-8 senior center failed to repeat as Big West Player of the Year, she's still one of the country's most lethal players in the paint. Taylor, who scored 25 points in the Big West final to become the Gauchos' all-time scoring leader with 1,733 career points, averaged 16.1 points and 7.3 rebounds while shooting 55.3 percent from the field and 71.4 percent at the foul line in the regular season. Taylor, who was an AP honorable mention All-American last season, is just the third player in UCSB history to garner All-Big West honors all four seasons of her career.
ANALYSIS BY ESPN'S STACEY DALES-SCHUMAN
If you happen to catch UC Santa Barbara in action during this year's tournament, you'll see seven-time Big West Coach of the Year Mark French and a sizeable group of Gaucho women who love to get things done in the red zone. Moreover, you'll take immediate notice of 6-foot-8 senior middle woman Lindsay Taylor.
It's not necessarily Taylor's size that will catch you; rather, it's the way she moves and operates as a go-to for her team. Though battling through nagging chronic back pain, Achilles soreness, and the brutal double- and triple-team beatings she receives on the court, Taylor has managed to tally 16 points and seven boards on a nightly basis. Although she does shoot a decent mark of 72 percent from the charity stripe, she receives what you might call "Hack-a-Shaq" treatment. Consequently, her mental toughness has blossomed and served as a good example for younger teammates to follow.
UCSB's inside game wouldn't be complete without the play of junior Kristen Mann. An All-Big West first-team pick, many say Mann might be the most improved Gaucho. A better boarder, defender and shooter, Mann has clearly benefited from a summer with USA Basketball. All that said, it is the 6-foot-2 forward's ability to use both hands off the bounce that makes her unique -- yet another area of improvement.
As the cliché goes, one's inside game is only as good as its outside game. Finally able to play after transferring from Tennessee, senior point guard April McDivitt has provided difference-making minutes, accounting for nearly 10 points and five assists. Complementing McDivitt in the backcourt is junior guard Mia Fisher, one of those players who loves to penetrate and challenge at the basket, as illustrated by her 51 percent field-goal accuracy. With fewer than 15 attempts on the entire season from downtown, you know this is a player who thrives on getting to the hoop. The Gauchos will need her to efficiently work the dribble in order to break down a defense and draw pressure away from the team's strong post play.
Defensively, look for UCSB to execute zone principles under a coach who, like many, takes great pride in this category. Though numbers don't show it, the Gauchos have had slight trouble defending the arc this season and will have to be much better in the tournament.
On an offensive note, the team attempts a mere two 3-pointers per match. They boast a thick inside game and truly look to exploit it.