Men's Basketball, Picked To Win The Big West, Opens 2002-03 Campaign At BP Top Of The World Classic In Alaska

The Schedule
Game No. 1
BP Top of the World Classic - First Round
Friday, November 23 at 8:00 p.m. (PST)
UC Santa Barbara vs. Weber State
at The Carlson Center - Fairbanks, Alaska

Game No. 2
BP Top of the World Classic - Second Round
Saturday, November 24 at 3:00 p.m. or 9:00 p.m. (PST)
UC Santa Barbara vs. Jacksonville State/Ball State
at The Carlson Center - Fairbanks, Alaska

Game No. 3
BP Top of the World Classic - Third Round
Sunday, November 25 at TBA
UC Santa Barbara vs. Wisconsin-Green Bay/Alaska-Fairbanks/Centenary/Nebraska
at The Carlson Center - Fairbanks, Alaska

Gauchos Head To Alaska To Open 2002-03 Season
UC Santa Barbara is set to open the 2002-03 season in the eight-team BP Top of the World Classic in Fairbanks, Alaska. While the tournament starts on Thursday, November 21, the Gauchos will open on Friday, November 22. UCSB opens the tournament against Weber State. This will mark the first time Santa Barbara has played off the U.S. mainland since December of 1993 when they played in the Rainbow Classic in Honolulu, Hawaii.

UCSB Picked To Win Big West By Coaches & Media

Coaches                              Media
1.  UCSB (6)               77        1.  UCSB (14)             246
2.  Utah State (3)         73        2.  Utah State (9)        231
3.  UC Irvine (1)          69        3.  UC Irvine (3)         217
4.  Cal State Northridge   47        4.  Cal State Northridge  157
5.  Pacific                40        5.  Pacific               144
6.  Long Beach State       39        6.  Cal Poly              134
    Cal State Fullerton    39        7.  Long Beach State      114
8.  Cal Poly               36        8.  Cal State Fullerton    94
9.  Idaho                  21        9.  Idaho                  54
10. UC Riverside            9        10. UC Riverside           39

Hull & Fullove Named Preseason All-Big West
Senior forward Mark Hull and junior guard Branduinn Fullove were selected to the Big West's Preseason All-Conference Team. Hull, a First Team All-Big West choice last season, is the league's top returning three-point shooter and one of the top scorers. Fullove, a Second Team All-Big West selection last season, is also one of the top returning three-point shooters and scorers. The Gauchos were the only team in the league to have more than one player chosen to the team.

For Openers...
UCSB will be opening its fifth season under head coach Bob Williams. The Gauchos are 1-3 in openers under Williams. Last year, they posted a 51-42 season-opening win over Westmont College. In the three previous openers, UCSB dropped a home game against Stanford, which was ranked second in the nation at the time, and two at Pepperdine. Historically, the Gauchos are 40-22 in season openers, dating back to the 1937-38 season. Included among the 40 wins were victories over 20th Century Fox, Camp Pendleton Marines, Camp Cook and Fall River Navy.

What About Bob?
Bob Williams is in his fifth season as the head coach at UC Santa Barbara. Last year, he guided the Gauchos to a 20-11 overall record and an 11-7 mark in Big West Conference play. It was the school's first 20-win season since 1992. Most importantly, however, Williams led UCSB to its first Big West Conference Tournament Championship ever and first NCAA Tournament appearance in 12 years. In his first four seasons in Santa Barbara, Williams' teams have posted a 62-53 overall record and a 42-24 record in Big West games. In 1998-99, his first year, the Gauchos went 15-13 overall and 12-4 in the Big West, winning the league's Western Division championship. That year, they closed the campaign by going 15-5 and Williams was selected Big West Coach of the Year. Prior to his arrival at UCSB, he spent eight years at UC Davis and in those eight years, his teams recorded 20 or more wins five times and a 158-76 record. In each of his last four seasons, the Aggies advanced to the NCAA Tournament and in 1997-98, Williams' final season, they went 31-2, won the NCAA Division II National Championship and he was named NABC Division II Coach of the Year. Including two seasons at Menlo College, Williams has a record of 251-153 at four-year schools.

Possible Starters - Notes
G - Jacoby Atako - Enters the season with 51 straight starts at the point.
G - Nick Jones - For the first time in his three seasons, he begins the year as a starter.
G - Branduinn Fullove - Returning from strained left knee, should be ready for Alaska.
F - Mark Hull - Has 1,150 points, needs 50 to enter UCSB's all-time top-ten.
F - Bryan Whitehead - Limited action last season, but will be depended on this year.

Probable Reserves - Notes
G - B.J. Ward - Three-year point guard will see action at the off-guard this season.
G - Chrismen Oliver - Walk-on will open the season as primary backup at the point.
G - Cecil Brown - Explosive redshirt freshman can score inside and out.
G - Josh Davis - True freshman could see action at the one, two or three.
F - Bray Skultety - Torn ACL in left knee will sideline him for the season.
F - Casey Cook - After injury redshirt last season, he will play at the four and five.
F - Glenn Turner - Is slated to redshirt his first season at UCSB.
F - Scott Rainey - Tallest Gaucho had his role increase with the injury to Skultety.
F - Derek Wheeler - Walk-on is expected to see very limited action this year.

Skultety's Season Ends With Knee Injury
For the first couple weeks of practice, senior forward Bray Skultety was making a very strong bid for the starting nod at the five spot. Skultety emerged over the final 25 games last season, becoming one of the Gauchos' top rebounders and a sparkplug off the bench. He was a great story. In only his second year of organized basketball, Skultety, a walk-on, had become a regular on a team that advanced to the NCAA Tournament. Awarded a scholarship prior to this season, Skultety's story kept getting better and better, but on November 1, the tale took a turn for the worse. In practice on that day Friday, Skultety tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee, ending his season and most likely his collegiate career. As a fifth-year senior, an injury redshirt year is a very remote possibility. In 2001-02, Skultety played in 26 games, starting one, averaging 2.5 points and 4.4 rebounds per game. He easily led the team in rebounds per 40 minutes played at 16.2, and despite his 6-foot-6 height, he ranked second on the team in blocked shots with 13.

The Rest Of The Health Report Improves
While Skultety's injury is a tough blow for UCSB, the rest of the health report has improved. While two regulars missed the Gauchos' exhibition game against Team Ezybonds (Australia), they are likely to return for the BP Top of the World Classic. Junior guard Branduinn Fullove, the team's second leading scorer a year ago, missed the exhibition loss with a strained left knee. He started practicing again this past weekend and should be good-to-go in Alaska. Last season, Fullove averaged 14.1 points and 4.2 rebounds per game, earning Second Team All-Big West honors. Also selected to the Big West All-Tournament Team, he made 58 three-point baskets as a sophomore and his 728 points is the highest freshman-sophomore total in school history. The other regular who missed the exhibition game, freshman guard Josh Davis, also returned to practice late last week and he too should be ready. Davis is expected to see action at the point as well as both wing positions. As a senior at Elk Grove High School in Sacramento, he averaged 23.0 points, 8.3 rebounds and 5.2 assists per game.

One-Two Punch Returns For Gauchos
The one-two combination of forward Mark Hull and guard Branduinn Fullove has become one of the most prolific in UCSB history. Last season, despite Fullove missing a game, the duo combined for 893 points, the fifth most productive one-two punch ever. It was the first time that the Gauchos had produced two players with 400 or more points since 1991. Hull paced the way with 471, while Fullove tallied 422. In addition to their scoring exploits, Hull and Fullove combined for 136 three-point baskets, the most ever by a two-player combination.

Hull Takes Target Practice
In 2002-03, Mark Hull will be taking target practice. Barring injury, the senior forward has several statistical targets that he will take aim at. The first target for Hull will be UCSB's all-time scoring top-ten. With 1,150 career points, he needs 50 to enter the top-ten and 202 to enter the top-five. Taking it a step further, Hull needs 285 points to move into second-place on the all-time scoring list. He also enters the year with 147 career three-point baskets, the fifth most in school history. Hull needs four three-pointers to move into fourth-place, 16 to move into third-place, 44 to move into second-place and 50 to become UCSB's all-time three-point field goal leader. While he has several other targets, those are the most significant for the two-time All-Big West selection.

For Starters, Jones Will Start
Junior guard Nick Jones has ended each of his first two seasons in the Gaucho starting lineup. This year, for the first time in his three seasons, he begins the season in the starting lineup. The 2002 Big West Tournament Most Valuable Player, Jones averaged 9.9 points and 3.8 rebounds per game last season. He came off the bench for the first 15 games of the season, but started the final 16. In his 16 starts, Jones averaged 12.3 points, 4.1 rebounds, 1.4 assists and 1.2 steals per game. He also hit 44.0% from the floor and 45.0% from three-point range as a starter. On the year, Jones' three-point percentage of 42.4% was the best on the team. Combined with Hull and Fullove, he gives the Gauchos one of the best three-player combinations in the Big West.

Post By Committee
Even before Bray Skultety injured his left knee, UCSB's situation at the five spot was up for grabs. Skultety's injury has thrust a few players into greater roles than had been anticipated. Junior Bryan Whitehead, who started 11 times last season, is expected to get the starting nod in the post. Whitehead is in much better shape this year than he was last and his play is expected to reflect that. Last year, he averaged 1.8 points and 2.3 rebounds per game. Sophomore Casey Cook, a natural forward, redshirted last year after partially tearing ligaments in his right thumb. Cook scored 15 points in UCSB's exhibition game and seems to have the ability to make the transition to playing with his back to the basket. Redshirt freshman Scott Rainey, at 6-foot-10 the tallest Gaucho, will have his opportunities as well. Chances are, Rainey will see very limited action early in the season with a chance to increase that as the year evolves. The other option in the post really isn't an option. Freshman Glenn Turner was earmarked to redshirt the 2002-03 campaign before Skultety's injury and that thought has not changed.

On The Horizon
Following the BP Top of the World Classic, the Gauchos will return home for two of their few non-conference home games. UCSB hosts USF on Saturday, November 30 at 7:00 p.m., and then, on Tuesday, December 3, they will welcome the USC Trojans to the Thunderdome for a 7:00 p.m. outing.