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Talented Gauchos must come together to get back on top of Big West

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The Gauchos are working hard to get back to the NCAA Tournament.

UC SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - It's summer but UCSB head basketball coach Joe Pasternack is giving his players a big chemistry lesson.

"Talent alone isn't enough," says Pasternack. " The Los Angeles Lakers are an example, you have Anthony Davis, LeBron James, Russell Westbrook (and they missed the playoffs) so chemistry is a big deal we are working really, really hard on chemistry right now and our culture because that really is what a championship organization has and that is going to be the key for us."

The 2022-'23 Gauchos have plenty of talent and experience.

Point guard Ajay Mitchell was the Big West Freshman of the Year last season and he is much bigger and stronger now having grown an inch and gained more than 20 pounds than when he arrived last summer.

"With him working out at P3 and with our strength coach, in eight weeks in the spring his vertical jump went up four inches which is unbelievable," said Pasternack. "I think he is going to have a tremendous year."

Newcomer Andre Kelly will be a load for Big West opponents.

After a successful four years at Cal, the 6'8 Kelly transferred to UCSB to pursue a master's degree.

He was second in the Pac-12 last season in rebounds averaging 8.4 per game. He also scored over 13 points per game.

"He was excited to come to a school where he can win and hopefully win big," said Pasternack.

Miles Norris and Ajare Sanni have All-Big West talent and they return for their final season at UCSB.

Other key members include Josh Pierre-Louis, Calvin Wishart, Cole Anderson and Zach Harvey.

UCSB was knocked out of the Big West Tournament last season on a buzzer-beater by Long Beach State in the semifinals.

Pasternack says his Gauchos are motivated to get back on top of the league. "There's a chip on our shoulder, I think were very hungry to get back to the NCAA Tournament."

Article Topic Follows: College Sports
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Mike Klan

Mike Klan is the sports director for News Channel 3-12. To learn more about Mike, click here.


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