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UCSB, UH have divergent scheduling philosophies

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What we have tonight are opposite ends of the Big West Conference basketball coaching spectrum, Hawaii’s Eran Ganot and UC Santa Barbara’s Bob Williams.

It is the still wet-behind-the-iPad rookie with a 12-2 record vs. the been there, done that 18-year dean of the conference at 294-231.

And nowhere do their philosophies diverge more than in the approaches to the preconference schedules that have brought the preseason No. 2 (UCSB) and No. 3 (UH) picks in the conference coaches’ poll here to the Stan Sheriff Center.

In this first weekend of Big West competition, the Gauchos arrive at 6-7, having played what the NCAA rates as the sixth toughest schedule among the 351 schools in Division I. UH, meanwhile, has played the 222nd-ranked preconference schedule.

Both will tell you the aim of their nonconference scheduling is to get their teams ready for what has become a de facto all-or-nothing Big West Conference season. In a conference that hasn’t had an at-large entry in more than a decade, the only sure path to the NCAA Tournament is by winning the conference tournament.

Failing that, winning the conference regular season assures an NIT appearance.

“As a program our philosophy is to play tough preseason opponents because it’s the best way to get ready for league,” Williams said.

“Anybody we can get in the Pac-12 or West Coast Conference we can get (to play), we take automatic,” Williams said. “That’s my rule. We will go to any Pac-12 place. You can’t not play the Pac-12, if you get the opportunity.”

Which is part of the reason the Gauchos played five Pac-12 Conference opponents. While UCSB was playing USC and Washington, UH was up against Arkansas Pine Bluff and Mississippi Valley State.

UCSB has played just two home games, while UH, which leads the conference with 13 home appearances, has played but one road contest.

The Gauchos are partially driven by the need to support the overall athletic department coffers, which is why they annually play multiple so-called “guarantee” games for the $225,000-$350,000 total they bring in each year before expenses.

UH has played one, Texas Tech — its lone road appearance to date — which produced $87,000 before expenses.

UCSB is not alone in its play-up philosophy and certainly not the most ambitious. Long Beach State (7-9) is the national poster player for aiming high with what the NCAA has rated as the toughest nonconference schedule in the country. Its opponents, including Duke, Arizona, Oregon, UCLA, Oklahoma State (twice), Virginia, Seton Hall and San Diego State, have gone a collective 104-46.

With the 49ers, it is also about economics, since portions of the “guarantee” money are routed to pay its coach, Dan Monson, and help underwrite the athletic department.

“The bottom line,” Williams said, “is that you do what you feel is best for your program. That’s what a coach is responsible for.”

All of which makes for interesting comparison as the conference season plays out and we wait to see which approach is validated by the results.


(National ranking in pre-conference strength of schedule)

Rank School Record Pct.
1. Long Beach State 104-46 .693
6. UC Santa Barbara 101-49 .673
54. Cal Poly 80-56 .588
65. UC Irvine 96-70 .578
135. UC Davis 60-54 .526
222. Hawaii 62-68 .477
262. CS Northridge 64-76 .457
292. CS Fullerton 64-76 .429
342. UC Riverside 57-101 .361

Source: NCAA.

Reach Ferd Lewis at or 529-4820.

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  • “And nowhere do their philosophies diverge more than in the approaches to the preconference schedules…”

    By this statement I have to assume Ganot is responsible for scheduling the lesser opponents that Hawaii has played this year, and that it is his philosophy to do so. But why? I’d like to hear the reasoning behind such scheduling. Someone should ask him.

    • Not Ganot’s fault although he probably is enjoying the hype for now and it won’t last. “Athletic director David Matlin has said he’s cut Eran Ganot some slack on this year’s schedule, which was completed late with the coaching changeover and has received some criticism for its overall strength.” Per Mcinnis. Valdez is in one of his down streaks and UCSB has a solid front line although UH favored by almost 10.

      • Matlin also said he was the one who signed off on UH paying $$$ to drop out of that tournament. Those games actually looked totally winnable now. And we totally killed our SOS and have two division II teams. The team is amazing but the schedule needs to be fixed–part of the reason why attendance is so low.

  • I think that the easier schedule gives both the players and coaches a chance to experiment real game time exposure before the league games come down.

  • Uh don’t we have the results? UCSB’s OOC RPI was #50, Hawaii’s was #90. (Thanks Nicholls, Pine Bluff and MVSU)

    At this point the RPI is a public formula and it’s well known how to position yourself to have a solid RPI.

    Ganot, like his previous predecessors are clearly scheduling for wins–which isn’t a bad idea. Like you said traditionally only the Big West tourney winner goes to the Big Dance anyway. But–I do suspect that if Ganot could go back in time and see how well team is playing now–that maybe he could have scheduled up a little harder–just in case..

  • Annnnd Hawaii still beat them, and is the better team. So your article , which clearly showed you expected a Gauchos win and thought you would be vindicated by one, turned out to be all for nothing…who cares about their schedule, Hawaii played and beat good teams and almost beat one of the best teams….

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