Pastorek is the whole enchilada

Jan. 6, 2011

Justin Joyner figured Jon Pastorek to be one-dimensional even at 6-foot-10 when he moved into his Isla Vista apartment three years ago.

"His diet never changes," Joyner observed. "His mom gives him these burritos. She packs them all up and there are a million of them in the freezer. He thaws them out and that's the main thing he eats.

"He has a lot of clothes, too, but it's two of everything. He wears one shirt, and then the next day he'll wear another one and it looks exactly like the shirt he just wore."

But looks and diet have both proved deceiving with Sheryl Pastorek's big boy, the utility man of the UCSB basketball team.

"He does a lot of things well," coach Bob Williams said. "He shoots it, he's a good defender and his No. 1 strength is the way he rebounds the ball.

"When we first saw him play in high school, he was so versatile that we thought he could become the heir apparent to Mark Hull."

Pastorek wanted to be the next star for San Diego State, however, after he came out of Anaheim's Canyon High School.

As a Gaucho bounce-back, he's more a throw-back to the era when athletes weren't as specialized.

"Basketball-wise, it just wasn't a good fit for me there," said Pastorek, who played power forward for the Aztecs at just 210 pounds. "Just the system, and playing the four in that conference. I was guarding guys who are 6-10, 6-11 and 250 pounds.

"I'm just trying to help this team in any way I can -- passing, defensively. The points will come when they're there. Whatever I can do to help this team is what I want to do."

He's helping the Gauchos more than ever now, averaging 7.3 points over UCSB's last three games and getting 13 of his 18 assists in the last four.

And UCSB needs Pastorek more than ever now, with starting center Jaime Serna unavailable for tonight's game at UC Davis with groin and hip injuries.

"We might have Jon play a little bit at the five now," Williams said. "We'd be really small, in our book, but really mobile."

At 6-10, Pastorek presents match-up problems for most opponents. He makes the open 3-pointer -- he's 5-for-7 so far this year -- and is averaging 3.4 rebounds in 18.2 minutes of action.

"I've got the green light when I've got my feet set and am in a good rhythm," he said. "I'm looking for my shot a little more when I'm open, but it's really just the same thing for me: Playing defense, getting assists and rebounds, and steals when they're there. Just not trying to do too much."

Pastorek did a lot even during his red-shirt year, playing on the scout team with his new roomie, as well as with future Big West MVP Orlando Johnson.

"I just got a real great feel playing with J.J. and Orlando, and getting a feel for the system," he said. "There were some days when we'd out-play the other squad."

Williams is convinced that the scout team of Pastorek, Johnson, Joyner, Seth Kamphoefner and Jacob Mercer helped his 2008-09 team win eight of its last 10 games after starting just 5-9.

"They made our guys compete," he said. "The freshmen in particular grew up playing against such good players -- five guys who took a lot of pride in what they were doing.

"They prepared the scout and came out and basically kicked the starters' rear ends."

It was a different story for Pastorek when he was a starter for the first four games of the following season.

"I was just trying to do too much," he said. "I was shooting bad shots, I was turning the ball over a lot, and my minutes went down.

"As the season went on and we moved into conference, I kind of found my niche, which was defense, passing the ball, shooting when I was open. That's how I got back into the rotation, and that's kind of what I'm trying to build on this year."

His greatest value might be as the point man for the Gauchos' 1-3-1 zone defense.

"He's a big reason why we even put in that defense," Williams said. "It complements his skill set, because he moves really well, and that allows his length to be really effective."

Pastorek gets a surge of adrenalin every time Williams calls for the 1-3-1.

"Coach is always encouraging me to play hard, give a lot of effort and just kind of create havoc up there for guys," he said.

Joyner said Pastorek is not as good at cleaning up the dishes as he is the backboards, but he's still a good roommate.

"Jon's a joy to have on the team," he said. "He's one of those guys who gets along with everybody."

Mrs. Patorek's burritos don't hurt.

"We all like to steal them," Joyner said, "even though he always notices."