The University of California, Santa Barbara, may be the most picturesque location the Boilers will travel to during the 20002-2003 season. While the university has well known departments and faculty--including two Nobel Prize winners in 2000--it's the beauty of the campus that shines through its official website. The home of the Gauchos is bordered by the Santa Ynez Mountains and the Pacific Ocean, clearly showed in one of the pictures on a slideshow presentation. A person really couldn't blame the Boilermakers if they got a little carried away gawking at the sights; traveling to East Lansing, Champaign, and Iowa City pales in comparison. Give yourself a break this holiday season and leave the cold temperatures of Lafayette/West Lafayette (at least temporarily at 12 seconds per photo) and check out some campus scenes at the following address:
The Gauchos are a perennial power in the Big West Conference, the same home to former Purdue opponent University of the Pacific. Already UCSB has a 3-1 record with wins over North Carolina State, Florida, and Loyola Marymount and a loss to Michigan in Ann Arbor. Originally ranked in the top 25 in the nation, UCSB is no stranger to close games this year as three of their four games were decided by six points of less. Their victory over Loyola Marymount, a 13-point affair, was the largest margin of any game this year. The key to the Gauchos this year is their balance, with four players averaging more than 12 points per game and eight players starting at least one game. One of their top players, Kristen Mann, didn't play against Loyola Marymount due to an injury, but she'll be tough to handle if she's healthy. As with IU, the Gauchos are a strong rebounding team, averaging more than four rebounds more than their opponents each game. With a defense that forces more than 20 turnovers a game and a collective FT% of more than 70%, the sole Achilles heel of the Gauchos may be their shooting from three-point range, a mere 23.3% Mark French's teams, however, are always strong especially during the NCAA tournament where they stunned Louisiana Tech last year in the first round and gave Purdue fits in the first round during its Final Four run during Kristy's second season. With high graduation rates, an amazing turnaround in winning percentage since his tenure began at UCSB, and top-25 rankings following season after season, French is rightfully credited with being one of the great head coaches this year and one of the most underrated in this article by womenscollegehoops.com:
Lindsay Taylor is a name well known to Boilermaker fans these past few years. Only a junior, Taylor has played big in both of the previous Gaucho/Boiler matchups. The two-time All-Big West 2nd team member is yet another tough center for the Boilers to match up with this year. At 6'8", she is easily the tallest and perhaps one of the most efficient with a career shooting percentage above 55%. With the depth the Gauchos can throw at teams, Taylor currently averages less than 26 minutes per game but she is a dominating force both offensively (12.5 points per game) and defensively (9.5 rebounds per game and more than two blocks per game). With her shooting skills plus great contributions from players like guard Mia Fisher (60% from the floor) and Jess Hansen (45.5% from the floor), maybe the Gauchos don't need to be much better from 3-point range. Read more about Lindsay Taylor as she prepares for her third stint against Purdue in her short career to date.
So here's the deal: Purdue's defeated the Gauchos twice in the past two years. Neither game, however, was decided until very late and both required the Boilermakers to come back from huge deficits to pull out a victory. Perhaps a key to those games were that both took place in Indiana. This matchup, however, will take place in one of the best venues for college basketball in the country, the 6000-seat-capacity Thunderdome. The Santa Barbara community is looking forward to the affair, too, as the game will serve as a fundraiser for the Make-A-Wish Foundation. Just bubbling under the nation's top 25 status, the Gauchos are a threat to every team they play this year with their outstanding balance and strong inside game. Perhaps it sounds like the same song/second verse, but the Boilermakers must be prepared to face a difficult team in a difficult atmosphere if to pull out an eighth consecutive victory. Kristy's scheduled a monster preseason for her squad and this may be one of the two toughest true away games on the entire 2002-2003 schedule.
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