Cooking Up Experience
Senior forward Casey Cook is UC Santa Barbara's only returning two-year starter. As a sophomore, he played almost exclusively at the five spot, starting 23 games. Last year, he started 18 times in 25 appearances. This year, once again, Cook is expected to be one of the Gauchos' most dependable and stable frontcourt players. In addition, he will be looked to as one of the team's leaders, although a quiet one. He leads more by example than with words.
The odds were stacked against the Gauchos in their opener at Hawaii last season. UCSB was playing without an injured Branduinn Fullove and a suspended Nick Jones. They were taking-on a talented Hawaii team had been virtually unbeatable at home the previous three seasons. Somebody had to step-up just to give the Gauchos a chance. In fact, several players stepped up, but none more than Cook who had the best game of his career. He played a career-high 31 minutes and recorded career-highs in points with 16 and rebounds with 12. Cook made 6-of-11 shots from the floor and 4-of-4 from the free throw line, many down the stretch as UCSB pulled away. Finally, the game was not only Cook's first double-double ever, but the 12 rebounds was the highest total by a Gaucho in 2003-04.
A Close Second
While it would be tough to argue against Cook's effort against Hawaii being the best all-around performance of his career, his game at UCLA on December 17, 2003, would have to rank a close second. This time, however, it wasn't just the numbers. Sure, his statistics were good, 15 points, 6-of-10 from the field, six rebounds and a steal, but he made all the big plays down the stretch to help UCSB to its first win ever over UCLA. Trailing by one, 60-59, Cook made a pair of free throws with less than 19 seconds remaining to give the Gauchos a 61-60 lead. He then made it stand up in the final seconds by stealing a Bruin inbounds pass and heaving the ball to half court as time ran out.
Mr. Clutch III
There was actually a third installment in Cook's late-game heroic chronicles in 2003-04. Although he didn't have a particularly great game in a home win over Pepperdine, he did save his best for last. Cook finished the December 3 game against the Waves with just seven points and five rebounds. He made 3-of-7 shots overall and 1-of-1 from three-point range. The three-pointer was one of just three that he made all season, but this one came at the buzzer and gave UCSB a 65-62 win.
Nobody loves the road more than Cook. As a junior, he was second on the team in scoring at 9.9 points per game. He scored ten or more points 11 times in his 25 games, with nine of the double-figure efforts coming away from the Thunderdome. In fact, Cook scored 13 or more points eight times...all away from home. On the year, he scored 166 points in his 14 games away from home, 11.9 per game, and 81 points in 11 appearances at home, 7.4 per game.
Free Throw Upswing II
As a sophomore in 2002-03, Cook shot a solid 73.1% from the free throw line. At midseason he was hitting just 48.0% from the stripe, but he finished the year making 37-of-42, 88.1%. Last season things were similar for Cook. When he made 1-of-6 from the line in a loss at Idaho, he was making just 58.0%. Over the final nine games, however, Cook made 33-of-37, 89.2%, to finish at 71.3% for the year. In fact, he finished the year by making 24 in a row.
Casey Cook Notes
Senior forward Casey Cook returns as the starter at the four spot...One of the most consistent UCSB players last season, Cook will be expected to take more of a leadership role this season as the most experienced player on the team.
Cook averaged a career-high 9.9 points and 4.6 rebounds per game as a junior...He started 18 of the 25 games he played in...Missed three full games during the Big West season with a leg injury...In addition to ranking second on the team in scoring and rebounding average, Cook led all regulars in field goal percentage at 49.7%...Scored in double-figures 11 times, going for a career-high 16 in games at Hawaii, vs. Southeast Missouri State and vs. Kansas...Cook also scored 15 points three times, including once in UCSB's first victory ever over UCLA...In the Gauchos 61-60 win over the Bruins, Cook made a pair of critical free throws in the final half minute and then had a game-clinching steal in the waning seconds...In UCSB's 65-62 decision over Pepperdine, Cook nailed a buzzer-beating three-pointer for the win...In a season-opening win at Hawaii, he not only had a career-high16 points, but he added a career-high 12 rebounds for the first double-double of his career...After his 12-rebound game at Hawaii, Cook never had more than six in any other game, but he did have five or more 12 times...Made 71.3% of his free throw attempts...Made his first 11 free throw attempts on the season and his final 24, but in between he made just 27-of-52, 51.9%...Despite missing three full games and playing a limited amount of minutes in four others because of his leg injury, Cook led the team with 87 free throw attempts.
As a sophomore, Cook played in all 32 games for the Gauchos, starting the final 23...Because of injuries, he was forced to play at the five spot instead of his more natural four spot...Averaged 5.2 points and 2.5 rebounds per game...Scored a season-high 16 points in a win over Centenary...Overall, Cook scored in double-digits four times, including three times during one four game stretch at the outset of the Big West season...Probably had his best overall game when he went for 14 points and seven rebounds in a home win over Cal State Northridge...Produced a season-high eight rebounds against UC Riverside...Cook had five or more rebounds eight times...Shot 45.2% from the field, but during a five-game stretch in the middle of the year he hit just 5-of-26 shots, 19.2%. In the other 27 games, he shot 52.0%...In his 16-point outing against Centenary, Cook made 6-of-7 shots from the field and in his 14-point game against Cal State Northridge, he made 5-of-6 shots...While he shot 73.1% from the free throw line, Cook made 33-of-38, 86.8%, to end the season...Had a career-high 15 steals on the season, going for two in three games.
Cook redshirted the 2001-02 season after partially tearing ligaments in his right thumb...While his statistics will not count, he did play six games before the decision to redshirt him...Had five points and a team-high eight rebounds in a win at USF...Scored eight points and had six rebounds at USC.
Cook finished his freshman year with averages of 4.1 points and 3.1 rebounds per game...He scored in double-figures twice, going for a career-high 14 in a home win over Cal State Fullerton, and tossing in ten in a narrow home loss to USC...Also had eight points on the road at Utah State...Cook had five or more points 11 times...He struggled with his shooting early, but in the last 13 games, he made 24-of-48, 50.0%, to improve to 36.1% by the end of the season...While he made just 36.1% of his field goal attempts overall, he did hit 41.0% of his two-point attempts...Additionally, while he made 58.1% of his free throws, he did make his final 11 of the season to end on a high note...Had a career-high of nine rebounds at home against USF...Pulled down eight rebounds against UC Irvine...Also had a pair of seven rebound performances...Had five or more rebounds six times...In his final 11 games, Cook averaged just 1.6 rebounds per game...He hit a trio of three-point baskets on the season...Averaged 14.1 minutes per game, and played 15 or more in ten games, including the season's first eight.
Prepped at El Camino High School in Sacramento, CA...As a senior, Cook averaged 20.0 points, 10.0 rebounds, 3.0 assists and 2.0 blocked shots per game...Named All-CIF, All-City and All-Capital Athletic League following his senior season...Nominated for McDonald's All-American...Named to the Orange County Register's Fab 15 third team, recognizing him as one of the top 45 players in the West...Scored a career-high 31 points against Kennedy HS...Had a career-high 20 rebounds against Valley HS...Hit five three-pointers in a game against Foothill HS...Averaged 16.0 points and 10.0 rebounds per game as a junior...Named All-City as a junior as well...As a sophomore he averaged 14.7 points and 8.0 rebounds per game...Coached by Justin Clymo.
Casey Patrick Cook was born May 14, 1982 in Roseville, CA...Sociology major...Also played baseball at El Camino HS and was an All-Capital Athletic League choice as a senior... His most memorable moment in sports was when he played on a traveling basketball team that competed in Italy and France...The son of Brenda and Patrick Cook.