Devine expected to lead second-best UCSB

IRVINE — After winning the Big West Conference regular season title and earning a postseason spot in the NIT last year, the UCSB men’s basketball team was picked to finish second in 2008-09 by both the league’s coaches and the media at Wednesday’s annual Big West Media Day. Cal State Northridge was the consensus first-place finisher, while Pacific was tabbed to take third in both polls. In addition, UCSB senior forward Chris Devine was named to the preseason all-conference team.

In the coaches poll, Northridge garnered 64 points and eight of nine first-place votes. UCSB was second with 56 points and one first-place vote, while Pacific totaled 48 points to place third. Following the Tigers, Cal State Fullerton was fourth, UC Davis fifth, Cal Poly and UC Irvine tied for sixth, Long Beach State eighth, and UC Riverside ninth.

The media poll was also topped by Cal State Northridge, which picked up 173 points and 14 of 20 first-place tallies. Santa Barbara had 156 points and three first-place votes to place second and Pacific took third with 127 points and a pair of first-place votes. Fullerton was again fourth and was trailed by Long Beach, UC Irvine, UC Davis, Cal Poly, and UC Riverside.

Cal State Northridge won a piece of last season’s Big West regular season title and finished 20-10 overall and 12-4 in league play. The Matadors return the Big West’s rebounding and blocks leader in Tremaine Townsend as well as Josh Jenkins, who led the conference in assists.

The Gauchos, who were picked to win the league last season, finished with a school-record 23 wins (23-9) and won a share of the Big West regular season crown with a 12-4 mark. UCSB punched its ticket to the National Invitation Tournament and saw senior guard Alex Harris tabbed the co-Big West Player of the Year.

Head Coach Bob Williams, entering his 10th year leading the Gauchos, returns three starters and eight letterwinners in 2008-09. Devine is the Big West’s active scoring leader with 1,143 career points. The 6-foot-8 Alaskan averaged 12.3 points and 5.4 rebounds last year, both ranked second on the team. He was also just one of two Gauchos to shoot over 50% from the floor.UCSB opens its campaign Nov. 8 with an exhibition against Cal State Dominguez Hills at the Thunderdome (7 p.m.), the first of four straight home games. The regular season kicks off Nov. 14 vs. Cal State Los Angeles and continues Nov. 17 against Utah State and Nov. 21 vs. powerhouse North Carolina.


2008-09 Preseason Big West Coaches Poll
1. Cal State Northridge, 64 points (8)
2. UC Santa Barbara, 56 (1)
3. Pacific, 48
4. Cal State Fullerton, 42
5. UC Davis, 28
6. Cal Poly, 23
6. UC Irvine, 23
8. Long Beach State, 21
9. UC Riverside, 19


2008-09 Preseason Big West Media Poll
1. Cal State Northridge, 173 points (14)
2. UC Santa Barbara, 156 (3)
3. Pacific, 127 (2)
4. Cal State Fullerton, 107 (1)
5. Long Beach State, 96
6. UC Irvine, 73
7. UC Davis, 65
8. Cal Poly, 54
9. UC Riverside, 49


( ) first place votes


2008-09 Preseason All-Big West Team
Josh Akognon, guard, senior, Cal State Fullerton
Anthony Brown, forward, senior, Pacific
Chris Devine, forward, senior, UC Santa Barbara
Donovan Morris, guard, senior, Long Beach State
Tremaine Townsend, forward, senior, Cal State Northridge
Deon Tresvant, guard, senior, Cal State Northridge