October 19, 1999
UCSB Men's Hoops Exhibition Season Starts November 7
Oct. 19, 1999
First Things First
The UC Santa Barbara men's basketball team opened practice Saturday, October 16 with 13 active players. The Gauchos will open the exhibition season November 7 with game a 3:00 p.m. game against the Mount Gambier Pioneers of Australia. The regular season will open on November 20 at home against Stanford.
Bell Sidelined As Practice Opens
Point guard Larry Bell, who led the Gauchos in assists last season, opened practice Saturday with a cast on his right foot. Bell is sidelined after surgery to repair a broken bone. He injured the foot October 1 and had surgery October 7. Unless something unexpected occurs, the senior from Compton should be sidelined about six weeks. Bell is expected to begin swimming and riding a stationary bicycle possibly as early as next week. After a slow start last season, Bell became a permanent starter at midseason and wound up as the team's leader in assists (4.3 per game) and one of its best defensive players.
Williams Returns For Second Season
Bob Williams returns for his second season as head coach of the Gauchos. Last year he guided the Gauchos to a 15-13 overall record and an outstanding 12-4 mark in Big West play. After guiding the squad to the league's Western Division championship, Williams was selected Big West Coach of the Year and National Association of Basketball Coaches District 15 Coach of the Year. Williams will enter the season, his 12th as a head coach, with a career record of 204-113. His teams have won either a league, division or National Championship in five straight seasons.
Backcourt Returnees Lead The Way
When Larry Bell does return from injury, the Gauchos will have virtually their entire backcourt back from last season. In addition to Bell, UCSB returns starters Derrick Allen and Erick Ashe. Allen, who played both the point and a wing spot last season, will be permanently entrenched at the point until Bell's return. There is no slippage with Allen at the point. Last season, he averaged 6.7 points, 4.2 assists, 4.4 rebounds and a Big West-leading 2.4 steals per game. Ashe is UCSB's top returning scorer at 10.6 points per game. He also averaged 2.6 assists and 1.4 steals per contest. In addition to the trio of starters, the Gauchos return junior Brandon Payton who came off the bench for most of last season and averaged 9.1 points, 2.9 rebounds and 1.0 assists per game.
Ndiaye The Lone Frontcourt Returnee
Junior Adama Ndiaye is the only frontcourt returnee for the Gauchos. While his season was hampered by a "lower abdominal" injury, he played in 23 games averaging 3.3 points and 4.0 rebounds per game. He also led the Gauchos and was among the Big West leaders in blocked shots with 25 (1.1 per game). This year he returns with about 25 more pounds on his 6-foot-9 frame. Additionally, he spent the summer at a pair of big man camps that the coaching staff hopes will pay off.
The Redshirts Are Coming! The Redshirts Are Coming!
In addition to five returnees from last year's active roster, the Gauchos will welcome four players that redshirted last season. Sophomore Mike Vukovich played as a freshman two years ago. The 6-foot-9 Vukovich averaged 2.8 points and 2.5 rebounds in 1997-98. Junior Ross Carmichael, a 6-foot-9 transfer from Texas Tech, will not become eligible until the end of the Fall Quarter, but he started 12 of 27 games as a sophomore for the Red Raiders and averaged 3.5 points and 4.4 rebounds per game. He should play a key role for the Gauchos. Freshmen Mark Hull (Hoover HS in Glendale, CA) and Eric Hare (McKinney HS in McKinney, TX) will also be added to the mix. the 6-foot-7 Hull will play a wing position and the 6-foot-5 Hare will play at the four spot.
JC Transfers To Fill The Gaps
The Gaucho coaching staff will also plug in a pair of junior college transfers to fill the gaps left by departed players. Juliano Jordani, a 6-foot-7 forward out of the College of Southern Idaho, is big and tough and an outstanding outside shooter who will compete for playing time at the four spot. LaRon Bryant, a long-distance shooting specialist out of American River College, will be particularly important during the absence of Larry Bell.