Santa Barbara, CA – On January 4, 2014, mid-major NCAA Division I basketball team, University of California – Santa Barbara, scheduled a mid season match-up with an NAIA school, Masters College of Santa Clarita, California.
This is something that normally only happens in early season exhibitions, so why would this happen? The benefits for Masters College are obvious, this being a chance to showcase an 11-2 NAIA team in a Division I arena prior to the start of the Golden State Athletic Conference season, and give the players a chance to test themselves against Division I athletes. Plus, they received $3,500 from UCSB to cover the minor expenses of driving about an hour from Santa Clarita to Santa Barbara.
When questioning UCSB Coach Bob Williams on this subject, his reasons for scheduling the game made some sense. UCSB has a bye in the start of the Big West Conference season, which means they would have been idle for about two weeks, before their start of league play. (UCSB opens league play against Cal Poly on Saturday, January 11th.) In addition, they are currently ranked eighth among Mid-Major schools in strength of schedule, so another guaranteed win was desirable at this juncture.
When looking at a comparison of the two rosters, the difference between NAIA (equivalent to NCAA Division II) & NCAA Division I is obvious. At each position except point guard, UCSB’s players are 2-3 inches taller. The athleticism & size of the guards are close, but the athletic ability and strength of the power forwards and centers on Division I teams in general vastly overwhelms the NAIA players. In this game Masters started four guards and one 6’6″, 245 pound forward.
The game went about as expected, with UCSB holding a one point lead after eight minutes of play, when UCSB went on a 21-2 run to in effect close out the game before the first half ended. Center Alan Williams of UCSB highlighted the difference going for 23 points and 12 rebounds in just 22 minutes, while his counterpart from Masters College, starter Zach Stalin scored 1 point with 3 rebounds. Regardless of this result, it is expected that both teams will perform very well in their league play.
John Slavin is a Scout and Correspondent for NetScouts Basketball.