It wasn't the type of homecoming California-Santa Barbara men's basketball coach was expecting, but the results were certainly favorable as the Gauchos defeated University of Louisiana IN Lafayette on December 29, 2019 85-77.
"It was great being able to play before family members," said Pasternack, who was born in Ferriday before his family moved to New Orleans when he was a young child. "It's always nice coming back home."
The win came despite spending nearly 14 hours in airplanes, buses and airports, resulting in a 1:30 a.m. arrival at its hotel in New Orleans.
The Gauchos were supposed to be on an 11:30 flight from Santa Barbara to Dallas and then a connecting flight to Lafyette on Saturday, but things didn't go as planned. After a long delay due to severe weather in Dallas, the team boarded its flight, but after sitting on the plane for about half an hour, everyone was asked to disembark and, ultimately, the flight was cancelled.
UCSB's staff scrambled to make other arrangements and finally settled on a late-afternoon bus trip to Los Angeles International Airport and a 7:30 p.m flight from there to New Orleans, which landed at nearly 1:00 a.m. The team finally arrived at its hotel at 1:30 a.m. and got to bed, in preparation for the two-and-a-half hour drive from New Orleans to Lafayette on Sunday.
"We could have flown to Italy," Pasternack joked.
UC Santa Barbara settled in after an up-and-down first half to post an 85-77 win at Louisiana-Lafayette on Sunday.
The Gauchos led the Ragin' Cajuns 32-31 at halftime, but until scoring 40 points in the final 12:44, transforming a 45-45 tie into the 85-77 win, they didn't seem to be hitting on all cylinders.
UCSB finished with 53 points in the second half, making 17-of-24 (70.8%) field goals overall, 4-of-10 (40.0%) from three-point distance and 15-of-18 (83.3%) from the free throw line.
"We scored 53 of our 85 points in the second half and we did it in a lot of different ways," Pasternack said. "Playing on the road is always difficult, but you can only control what you do. You can't control the other team, the fans or the officials, so to come on the road and close out a game like that is very good."
Since that game, the Gauchos have won two of three games, falling to Long Beach 55-52 Saturday night. The Gauchos (12-5, 1-1) had their six game winning streak snapped.
"We've had to deal with some injuries," Pasternack said. "But I have been pleased with our play for the most part."
Last year, the Gauchos went 22-10 overall and 10-6 in the Big West Conference, good for second-place. They advanced to the semifinals of the Big West Tournament for the second consecutive season.
Pasternack's first season as the head basketball coach at UC Santa Barbara was nothing short of remarkable.
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. Finally, the program went 12-2 at home equaling the best Thunderdome record in school history and it won a school record 11-straight home games to open a season.
Overall, in his first two years at the helm of the UCSB program, Pasternack has recorded a 45-19 record for a winning percentage of .703, the best in school history.
Pasternack, who played basketball at Country Day in Metairie 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.
Pasternack 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.
Pasternack said he doesn't look at previous seasons as motivation for his current teams.
"Each year each team is different," Pasternack said. "You have different players and have to adjust to their style."
Adjusting and competing is something Pasternack has done very well.