Experienced, Talented and Deep, Gauchos Open Practice for 2003-04 Season
Oct. 17, 2003
The Sounds Of The Season
Beginning Saturday, October 18, the sounds of bouncing balls and squeaking shoes will once again emanate from the Thunderdome as the 2003-04 UC Santa Barbara men's basketball team begins practice. Saturday marks the first time that coaches and players are allowed on the floor simultaneously.
Gauchos Start With Exhibition Against EA Sports
The first opportunity UCSB fans will have to witness a familiar, but improved, UCSB team will be Wednesday, November 5, at 7:00 p.m. as Santa Barbara takes on the EA Sports All-Stars in an exhibition game at the Thunderdome. EA Sports is a team comprised of former college basketball players, most of whom attended colleges on the West Coast. On November 12, UCSB will play its final exhibition game against Ratiopharm Ulm, a German club.
Sunny Start To Pre-Season
The Gauchos will officially begin their march towards March in Honolulu, Hawaii as they take on the University of Hawaii in the regular season opener on November 21. After spending some time in the sun UCSB will embark for colder terrain as they head to the Montana Holiday Classic to play the University of Montana, and then the winner of a St. Mary's/Southeastern Missouri match-up.
Gauchos Ride The Wave
UCSB will return to the Thunderdome on Wednesday, December 3 to play its first regular season home game, a non-conference contest with coastal rival Pepperdine. In last season's battle with the Waves, Santa Barbara dropped a heartbreaker in Malibu. However, the game marked the emergence of some of the young and exciting players, most notably Josh Davis and Cecil Brown.
Williams Returns For Sixth Season
Head coach Bob Williams returns for his sixth season at UC Santa Barbara and enters this year as the reigning Big West Coach of the Year. Williams has had significant success at UCSB since his arrival from UC Davis in 1998. His career record at the helm of the Gauchos is 80-67, and he has been voted Coach of the Year twice, earning the honor in 1998-99 as well as last season. Additionally, Williams has taken UCSB into the post season two years in a row including an appearance in the NCAA Tournament in 2002, the first for Santa Barbara in 12 years. Over the course of his 15-year career, Williams has a record of 269-167, a winning percentage of .620. His success landed him an NCAA Division II Championship while he paced the sidelines at UC Davis.
Leading the Pack
Among the familiar faces leading the drills as practice opens will be the 2003 Big West Player of the Year Branduinn Fullove. The 6-foot-4 senior guard is coming off his best season as a Gaucho, and enters the year in position to rewrite much of UCSB's record-book. Joining Fullove in the backcourt will be two other familiar faces, Jacoby Atako and Nick Jones. All three players are four-year letterwinners and starters. Following last season, Atako was chosen as the Big West Defensive Player of the Year and Jones was selected the co-winner of the Big West Hustle Award.
Help Down Low
Entering the 2003-04 season the Gauchos look to have the deepest bench they have had since the introduction of Bob Williams as Head Coach. Joining Fullove, Atako and Jones as returning starters are Casey Cook and Bryan Whitehead who divided the starts at the five spot last year. Both forwards have been on the floor at the tip and both have seen significant time coming off the bench. Most importantly, Cook and Whitehead are experienced veterans and have improved with each year. This season, Cook makes the shift back to his more familiar four spot. Whitehead will remain at the five. Aided by the return of Bray Skultety, a forward who was granted a sixth season after a medical redshirt, and redshirt freshman Glenn Turner, the Gauchos have significantly improved their depth in the post.
For most people, four or five years of college are enough. But six years sounds rather nice when your senior year was disrupted and cut short by a season ending injury. For Bray Skultety that was the case. A knee injury prior to games last year forced him to the sideline for the entire season. The NCAA, however, granted him a sixth year of eligibility. Skultety walked-on at UCSB after being discovered in a pick-up game by a couple Gaucho players, and he has become an inspirational leader for the team as a key member of the frontcourt. Skultety should make an impact as an outstanding rebounder and a solid shot blocker.
Cecil Brown and Josh Davis return to the floor for their sophomore seasons at UCSB. Brown and Davis emerged last season as a freshman tandem that fueled excitement for Santa Barbara virtually every time they stepped onto the floor. The duo is poised to make an even greater impact this season. Brown is bigger and stronger than he was as a freshman and is expected to see significantly more playing time. Davis, an outstanding defender in his first season, should see his role expand.
Indeed UC Santa Barbara returns all but two of the players that helped the school win its first regular season Big West Championship, however, there are many new faces that will be checking in at the scorer's table come this 2003-04 season. Most notable are sophomores Cameron Goettsche, a transfer from Salt Lake Community College who originally went to the University of Utah, and guard Joe See, a transfer from Oregon State. Goettsche, a 6-foot-9 forward, has tremendous athleticism and a firm understanding of the game. See is a sharp-shooting guard who has tremendous three-point range. Additionally, redshirt freshman Glenn Turner, a 6-foot-9 forward, and true freshman Chris Devine, a 6-foot-8 forward, could contribute.