Men's Basketball Opens Difficult Stretch At Home Against USF On Saturday Night
Game No. 4
Saturday, November 30, 2002 at 7:00 p.m.
UC Santa Barbara Gauchos vs. University of San Francisco Dons
at UCSB's Thunderdome
Game No. 5
Tuesday, December 3, 2002 at 7:00 p.m.
UC Santa Barbara Gauchos vs. USC Trojans
at UCSB's Thunderdome
The Gaucho Record
UC Santa Barbara enters Saturday's game against the University of San Francisco with a record of 1-2. After opening the BP Top of the World Classic with losses to Weber State and Jacksonville State, the Gauchos beat Centenary on the final day. In the opener, Santa Barbara led for
UCSB Begins Difficult Stretch With USF
UCSB will open one of its most difficult schedule segments in many years this weekend. The Gauchos host the University of San Francisco in a game at the Thunderdome on Saturday night at 7:00 p.m. Following that, UCSB will take on four consecutive opponents that advanced to postseason play last season. On Tuesday, December 3, the Gauchos host USC, an NCAA Tournament qualifier last season, in a 7:00 p.m. contest. Santa Barbara then travels to Pepperdine (December 7), Cal (December 10) and BYU (December 21). Mixed in will be a December 18 home exhibition game against Westmont College. Following the game at BYU, the Gauchos will be off for Christmas before heading to Tempe, Arizona to take part in the azcentral.com/Arizona State Classic. UCSB will play Nebraska in the first round on December 27.
The Gauchos On The Radio
All UC Santa Barbara basketball games are broadcast live on KEYT radio, 1250 AM in Santa Barbara. Brock Bowling is in his first season as the play-by-play announcer and Don Ford is in his sixth year as the primary color announcer. Much to the consternation of the listening public, UCSB Director of Athletic Media Relations Bill Mahoney will handle the color for selected road broadcasts.
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-plus seasons in Santa Barbara, Williams' teams have posted a 63-55 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 252-155 at four-year schools.
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.
Home Sweet Home
UCSB is glad to be home. Fairbanks? Santa Barbara? You do the math. But the Gauchos are happy to be home for more reasons than just the weather. Last season, the Gauchos posted a 10-2 record in games at the Thunderdome, its best home record since 1989-90 when they went 11-2. UCSB's only two home losses last season came at the hands of Big West opponents Utah State and UC Irvine. The Gauchos were unbeaten in non-conference home games in 2001-02, recording wins over Pepperdine, BYU, St. Mary's and Westmont College.
UCSB and USF have played 29 times over the years and the Dons hold a hefty 22-7 advantage. Last year, however, the Gauchos blasted USF in The City by the Bay, 69-49. The last time UCSB and USF met in Santa Barbara, was November 21, 2000, when the Dons posted a 77-74 overtime victory. The Gauchos and USC have met 11 times over the years and the Trojans have won all ten games. Last season, USC beat UCSB in Los Angeles by a score of 73-62. The last times the teams met in Santa Barbara, on December 9, 2000, the Trojans edged the Gauchos, 75-73.
Possible Starters - Notes
G - Jacoby Atako - Had eight assists in Sunday's win over Centenary.
G - Nick Jones - Selected to the all-tournament team in Alaska, after averaging 16.7 ppg.
G - Branduinn Fullove - Shot 61.1% in the final two games of the tournament.
F - Mark Hull - Has 1,194 career points and needs six to move into tenth all-time.
F - Bryan Whitehead - Had career high three blocked shots vs. Centenary.
Probable Reserves - Notes
G - B.J. Ward - Averaged 11.7 minutes per game in Alaska.
G - Chrismen Oliver - Attempted just one shot in 30 minutes in Alaska.
G - Cecil Brown - Scored 25 points in just 40 minutes over the weekend.
G - Josh Davis - Played four positions in first three games.
F - Bray Skultety - Torn ACL in left knee will sideline him for the season.
F - Casey Cook - Scored a career-high 16 points in win over Centenary.
F - Glenn Turner - Is slated to redshirt his first season at UCSB.
F - Scott Rainey - Saw his first action in Sunday's win over Centenary.
F - Derek Wheeler - Walk-on saw his first playing time against Centenary.
Senior forward Mark Hull and junior guard Nick Jones were the only two Gaucho players to score in double-figures in each of the first three games. Hull scored 23, ten and 11, while Jones went for 20, 20 and ten in the three games. Junior Branduinn Fullove scored in double-digits in the final two games, going for 16 and 22.
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, started all three games in Alaska. While Whitehead got the starting nod in the first three games, redshirt sophomore Casey Cook actually played more minutes, 63-to-60. Additionally, there were brief moments in the final two games when UCSB essentially played without a post player, going with Hull and four backcourt players. The duo of Whitehead and Cook struggled with their rebounding, combining for just 14 in 123 minutes, but they did score 37 points in the three games. In the final game, a win over Centenary, the duo actually scored 21 points and pulled down seven rebounds. Additionally, Whitehead blocked a career-best three shots in the win.
Hull Nears Scoring Top-Ten List
Senior forward Mark Hull scored 44 points in the three games at the BP Top of the World Classic, including a 23-point effort in the opener against Weber State. The 44 points gives him a career total of 1,194, the 12th highest career total in school history. Hull now needs just six points to hit the 1,200 point mark and move into tenth place on the all-time list. Once he moves into tenth, barring injury, he will have several other targets in his sights. In fact, Hull needs just 54 points to move past six players and into sixth place on the list. His 23-point performance against Weber State equaled the fifth-highest total of his career. He also made seven three-point baskets in the first three games and now has 154 in his career, the fourth most in UCSB history. In addition to his offensive exploits, Hull is leading the Gauchos in rebounding through three games, averaging 5.7 per game. He had a high of eight against Weber State and added seven against Jacksonville State.
In The Nick Of Time
For the first time in his career at UCSB, junior guard Nick Jones began the season as a starter. In each of his first two years, Jones began the season as a spark off the bench and he ended each campaign as a spark in the starting lineup. Jones is taking advantage of his early starting opportunity. In three games at the BP Top of the World Classic, Jones averaged 16.7 points and 5.0 rebounds per game. He made 17-of-27 field goals overall (63.0%) and an outstanding 7-of-11 from three-point range, 63.6%. In the first two games of the tourney, against Weber State and Jacksonville State, Jones scored 20 points and had seven rebounds. It marked the first time in his career that he had scored 20 or more points in back-to-back games, and the 20 points rank as Jones' fourth-highest scoring efforts ever. The seven rebounds in each of the two games also rank has his fourth highest ever. Following the tournament, Jones was named to the All-Tournament Team. Last year, as a sophomore, he averaged 9.9 points and 3.8 rebounds per game. Jones' production last season really picked-up at the end and it culminated when he was selected the MVP of the Big West Tournament after leading the Gauchos to their first league crown ever.
Fullove Bounces Back
Junior guard Branduinn Fullove strained his knee and missed more than two weeks of practice. During that time, UCSB played its only exhibition game. Fullove returned to practice just a couple of days before the Gauchos boarded several planes and took off for the BP Top of the World Classic in Fairbanks, Alaska. Despite his rustiness and the fact that he did not play in the team's exhibition, Fullove was in the starting lineup when the first ball of 2002-03 was tossed in the air. The rustiness showed in that first game, a loss to Weber State, as Fullove had an un-Fullovelike game, making just 1-of-8 shots from the field and just 6-of-10 from the free throw line. In fact, after making his first three charity attempts against Weber State, he made just 3-of-7 to end the game. Fullove's lone field goal in the opener was a three-pointer as the buzzer sounded to end the first half. While he did lead the Gauchos with six assists in the opener, he had just nine points and two rebounds as UCSB lost 91-82. Fullove, however, showed signs of the old Fullove in game two, making 5-of-9 shots from the field and scoring 16 points against Jacksonville State, and then in the finale against Centenary, he bounce back all the way. In win over the Gents, Fullove scored 22 points in just 24 minutes, 19 of which came in the first half, he made 6-of-9 field goals overall, 4-of-6 from three-point range, and he was a perfect 6-of-6 at the free throw line. He enters this weekend's game as the Gauchos' second-leading scorer at 15.7 points per game. Fullove also enters Saturday's game needing just 25 points to hit the 800-point mark for his career and with 93 three-point baskets in his career, he needs just seven more to become the sixth Santa Barbara player in history to eclipse the 100 three-point basket mark.
Early in the 2002-03 season, sophomore forward Casey Cook has been thrust into a more significant role than even he expected. With the season-ending knee injury to senior Bray Skultety, Cook went from being a backup at the four and five spots, to one of the primary players at the five. In his first three games, the Sacramento native had his moments. While he didn't collect a great many rebounds, pulling down just five in the three games, he did play well offensively and defensively. After scoring four and five points in the first two games of the tournament, Cook had the best offensive game of his career in the final game, making 6-of-7 shots from the field and all three of his free throws en route to a career-high 16 points. The most impressive thing about the 16-point effort was how Cook scored the points. He made a variety of shots, including short jumpers, jump hooks and even a three-pointer. In addition, he was returning to regular season action for the first time in a while. Last year, Cook partially tore ligaments in his right thumb and after he played in the season's first six games, it was decided that he just couldn't function well with the injury and the Gauchos petitioned the NCAA for an injury redshirt season. Cook was granted the redshirt and is once again starting his sophomore season. Interestingly, before he was forced to the sidelines last year, his two best games came against UCSB's next two opponents, USF and USC. Against the Dons, with the rest of the Gaucho big men in foul trouble, Cook played 21 minutes, scoring five points, pulling down a team-high eight rebounds and blocking one shot. In the next game, against USC, Cook also played 21 minutes, and contributed eight points and six rebounds. As a freshman in 2000-01, he had ten points and seven rebounds against the Trojans.
Freshmen Give Preview Of What To Expect
While it is early in the season, it seems safe to say that, barring injury, the freshman guard duo of Josh Davis and Cecil Brown could prove to be one of the best in a while. Actually, it will be tough to beat the freshman duo of 2000-01, Branduinn Fullove and Nick Jones, but Davis and Brown are already showing that they are pretty good. In the season-opener, Brown, a redshirt freshman, made 4-of-5 shots overall, including 3-of-4 from three-point range, and finished with 12 points in just ten minutes, and while he went scoreless in 11 minutes of game two, he bounced back with eight points in 19 minutes in the finale against Centenary. Davis, a true freshman, had six points and a pair of assists in 15 minutes against Weber State. He had four points in each of the final two games. On the weekend, Davis also tied for the team-lead with three steals. Combined, Davis and Brown played a total of 83 minutes, scoring 34 points. They made 11-of-20 shots overall, 55.0%, and 3-of-6 from three-point range. As a senior at Canoga Park High School, Brown averaged more than 34 points per game and early-on, he has shown that those numbers were no fluke. In his career at Elk Grove High School in Sacramento, Davis earned a reputation as a versatile guard who can play several positions. In his first weekend as a Gaucho, he played the one, two and three spots, showing that his reputation was well-earned.
Field Goal Percentage, The Good And The Bad
What do you want first, the good news or the bad news? Okay, I'll decide. First, you get the good news. In their first three games, the Gauchos made 53.8% of their field goal attempts. The 44.9% they made in their second game against Jacksonville State was the lowpoint, but they hit 53.7% against Weber State and a scalding 64.3% against Centenary. In addition, as mentioned in column to the left, UCSB hit 50.9% from three-point territory in the first three games. Now, the bad news. While the Gauchos were making high percentage of their shots, so too were their opponents. In the first game of the season, Weber State scored 91 points, making 59.3% of its shots overall and 56.2% from three-point range. Both the 91-point scoring total and the 59.3% mark from the field, were higher than any opponent posted against UCSB last season, and while things improved in the next two games, they were still a bit alarming. In the three games, the Gaucho opponents made 73-of-144 shots overall, 50.7%, and they hit 19-of-37 from three-point range, 51.4%. The three opponents also averaged 77.7 points, almost 17 more points per game than the Gauchos allowed last season.
Atako Rides The Rollercoaster
Junior point guard Jacoby Atako went scoreless in two of the three games in Alaska. In the opener against Weber State, he went scoreless and did not play well, passing off for just two assists and turning the ball over three times. He did, however, get better. In the second game, against Jacksonville State, Atako scored eight points, making both of his three-point attempts, and he had four assists and two turnovers. In the final game, although he did not score, he ran the offense well, passing off for eight assists, and he turned the ball over only one time. The eight assists against Centenary equaled the second-highest total of Atako's career. In the three games, he finished with 14 assists and six turnovers.
It is no secret that rebounding is going to be a challenge for UCSB all season. The Gauchos were outrebounded in each of the three games at the BP Top of the World Classic, but they weren't killed on the boards. Santa Barbara was outrebounded by margins of two, four and one, a total of seven rebounds over three games. Possibly the biggest negative in terms of rebounding was the number of offensive rebounds that the Gauchos gave up. In the three games, they allowed the opposition to collect 27 offensive rebounds, a particularly high total when you factor in that the opposition shot 50.7% from the field in the three games.
Three For All
UCSB has picked-up where it left off last season. The Gauchos ended last year by making 16 three-point baskets in an NCAA Tournament loss to Arizona. The 16 threes in the game against the Wildcats gave UCSB a school-record 201 for the season. In their first three contests of the 2002-03 season, the Gauchos didn't skip a beat when it came to three-point baskets. Santa Barbara made nine three-point baskets in each of the three games, improving with each game. In the games against Weber State, Jacksonville State and Centenary, the Gauchos went 9-of-23 (39.1%), 9-of-18 (50.0%) and 9-of-12 (75.0%) respectively. Combined, UCSB hit 27-of-53 from beyond the arc, an outstanding 50.3%. During last year's school-record three-point run, the Gauchos averaged 6.5 three-pointers per game and shot 40.3%. In the first three games this season, six different players hit at least one three-pointer, and five players (Nick Jones, Mark Hull, Branduinn Fullove, Jacoby Atako and Cecil Brown) hit at least two in a game.
Free, But Costly
Another trait of last season's UCSB team was its ability to make free throws. As a team, the 2001-02 Gauchos hit 75.6% from the free throw line, the 13th-best mark in the nation and the third highest percentage in school history. Last weekend, UCSB had some major ups-and-downs at the charity stripe. In the opener against Weber State, the Gauchos blew a six-point second half lead, in part, because they couldn't make free throws. In that game, Santa Barbara went 15-of-28 from the line, 53.6%. Even more depressing, was the fact that they were 3-of-10 in the second half of the Weber State game, including missing the front end of two one-and-ones down the stretch. In the second game, against Jacksonville State, the Gauchos improved a bit, making 13-of-19, 68.4%, and in the finale against Centenary, things seemed back to normal as they hit 21-of-23, 91.3%.
On The Horizon
Following the games against USF and USC, the Gauchos will travel to Pepperdine on Saturday, December 7 for a 5:30 p.m. game that will be televised by Fox Sports Net 2.