UCSB is hoping for a return of the large crowd and rowdy atmosphere it stirred for last year’s home finale against Hawai’i when it opens its men’s basketball season at the Thunderdome Monday night against San Francisco State. (UCSB Athletics Photo)

Coach Joe Pasternack’s ambitions for this year’s UC Santa Barbara men’s basketball season include a large and loud welcoming party for the team’s first home game.

That party will get started with a “Blue Out” when the Gauchos play host to San Francisco State on Monday at 7 p.m.

Each UCSB student in attendance will receive a free blue shirt, plus a coupon for a Freebirds burrito. Community members are also encouraged to wear blue in support of the Gauchos.

“It’s our goal to get the place sold out,” he said. “That first game sets the tone for the season. That’d be the biggest thing, getting the students and the community to come out.”

UCSB, which returns six of its top eight scorers from last year, was picked to win the Big West Conference in a vote of the league’s coaches.

Among those back from last season’s 17-11 team are 6-5 sophomore point guard Ajay Mitchell, who won first-team all-league honors and the Big West’s Freshman of the Year Award, and 6-10 honorable mention pick Miles Norris.

Norris, 6-9 Cal transfer Andre Kelly, and guards Calvin Wishart, Josh Pierre-Louis, and Ajare Sanni will all be starting their final seasons in college basketball.

“It’s their last year, so individually they’re hungry,” Pasternack said. “And as a team they’re hungry.

“For us, it’s not all about talking about championships, it’s about being a champion every day. It’s about honoring our process, every single day, and the results will take care of themselves. That’s how we really focus. That’s our mantra.”

He said he’s still searching for a leader from his team of veterans.

“It’s a leadership by committee right now,” Pasternack said. “We do have a leadership council.

“But I think Calvin and Ajare are doing a really good job of leading right now, and Ajay and Miles and Andre are leading more by example.”

The Gauchos will hit the road after Monday’s contest, facing Fresno State on Friday at 2 p.m. at the arena used by the Golden State Warriors’ G League team in Santa Cruz. They will also travel to Northern Arizona for a 6 p.m. PST game on Nov. 18 before returning home to play Hampton on Nov. 21.