Joe Pasternack III is leading his UC Santa Barbara Men’s Basketball team to the Big Dance for the second time in three years.
And there’s no doubt who he is dedicating this year’s success to going into the Gauchos contest with Baylor on Friday at 12:30 p.m.
Last August, Pasternack’s father, Joe Pasternack Jr., died at the age of 90.
“I’ve been thinking about Dad a lot through this run,” Pasternack said. “I wish he could have seen it all. It’s kind of bittersweet.”
Joe Pasternack Jr., was a cornerstone of Ferriday for years as a civic and business leader.
Joe Pasternack III moved from Ferriday to New Orleans with his family at the age of five.
UC Santa Barbara is 26-7, finishing 15-5 in The Big West, and were the No. 2 seed in the Big West Tournament.
The Gauchos defeated last year’s tournament champion Cal-State Fullerton 72-62 in the finals.
“I am just so happy for our players to be able to experience March Madness; it is the greatest spectacle in all of sports, in my opinion,” Pasternack said. “With the adversity our guys went through this season: losing two of our top six players due to injury and losing three straight games because of that. The way our guys responded to that shows so much character and competitive spirt.”
The Gauchos are led by Big West Player of the Year Ajay Mitchell, who earned Big West Championship MVP honors, putting up 20 points in this game. Along with that, he added on four assists and four rebounds to round out his time in Henderson.
UC Santa Barbara defeated UC Riverside 92-87 in the semifinals, overcoming a 13-2 deficit to start the game.
“That was a tough deal,” Pasterncack said. “It was amazing. Our guys have fought all year, and just kept battling.”
The Gouchos are the No. 14 seed going up against Baylor, the No. 3 seed. The two teams meet Friday at 12:20 p.,m. In Denver. The game will be televised on TNT.
“It’s a tough draw, but that’s what happens when you get to this level,” Pasternack said. “You’re going to face a good team regardless. We’ll put together a plan and work hard to advance as far as we can go. We’re excited to be in it.”
Pasternack is in his fifth season at UC Santa Barbara.
In his first campaign at the helm, Pasternack’s Gauchos tied a school record for wins with 23 and equaled the NCAA’s largest increase in regular season victories from one season to the next, going from six wins in 2016-17 to 23 in 2017-18, a leap of 17. In addition to their 23-9 overall record, they narrowly missed winning the Big West Conference’s regular season title with an 11-5 league mark. UCSB also became just the third Big West school to go from single-digit wins one season to 20 or more the next.
In 2018-19, the Gauchos went 22-10 overall and 10-6 in the Big West Conference, good for second-place.
The 2020-21 season was far and away the most succesfull season of Pasternack’s tenure so far as the Gauchos posted a 22-5 record and 13-3 conference record to win the Big West regular season championship for the first time since 2010. Riding a ridiculous run through conference play the 2020-21 team broke the school record winning 13 straight games from January 1st to February 27th. The Gauchos also went an undefeated 11-0 at home and ended the year on an 18-2 run.
As the first seed in the 2020-21 Big West Tournament the Gauchos rode that momentum to their first Big West Tournament Championship since 2011, effectively punching their ticket to the NCAA Tournament for the first time in the Pasternack era and the sixth time in program history. This feat earned Pasternack his first Big West Coach of the Year award making him the first Gaucho head coach to earn the honor since 2010.
Overall, in his first five years at the helm of the UCSB program, Pasternack has posted a 115-41 record.
Pasternack had easily the most successful first season in Santa Barbara history at 23-9. The previous best record by a first-year coach was 15-10 by Art Gallon in 1957-58.
Pasternack joined the Gauchos’ program after spending four years as the Associate Head Coach at the University of Arizona.
Pasternack joined Sean Miller’s Arizona staff for the 2011-12 season and was promoted to the Associate Head Coach position in June of 2013. In his six seasons on the Wildcat bench, the team recorded a 174-47 overall record, including 124-23 over the last four seasons, while advancing to five NCAA Tournaments, two Sweet 16s and a pair of Elite Eights.
Prior to his six-year run at Arizona, Pasternack spent four years as the head coach at the University of New Orleans from 2007-11. He led the Privateers to 19 wins in his first season and he was credited with the Sun Belt Conference’s top recruiting class. In his final season at UNO, Pasternack guided the program to 16 wins despite losing the majority of his roster to transfer in the wake of the school’s decision to transition out of NCAA Division 1 due to financial hardships in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.
Before his tenure at UNO, Pasternack was on the staff at Cal from 2000-07 where he oversaw the Bears’ scouting and game preparation efforts, worked with the team’s guards on a daily basis and was involved in coordinating recruiting efforts that landed several top-25 classes.
Pasternack got his start in college basketball as a four-year manager under Bob Knight at Indiana University, where he broke down film and assisted in scouting opponents. He graduated from IU in 1999 with a degree in marketing. He played four years of varsity basketball at Metairie Park Country Day School in New Orleans. He and his wife, Lindsay, have a son, Joe IV, and a daughter, Lilly.
“It’s amazing,” Pasternack said of his time at UC Santa Barbara. “It’s been an unbelievable ride.”
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