Men's Basketball Completes Homestand With Games Against San Diego State & 12th-Ranked USC

Men's Basketball Completes Homestand With Games Against San Diego State & 12th-Ranked USC

Dec. 4, 2000

The Schedule
Game No. 6
Wednesday, December 6, 2000 at 7:05 p.m.

UC Santa Barbara Gauchos vs. San Diego State Aztecs
at UCSB's Thunderdome

Game No. 7
Saturday, December 9, 2000 at 7:05 p.m.

UC Santa Barbara vs. USC Trojans
at UCSB's Thunderdome

The Gaucho Record
UC Santa Barbara improved its record to 1-4 with a 57-50 overtime victory over Westmont College. The Gauchos opened the year at 0-4 with losses at UCLA, Pepperdine and BYU and at home to USF.

What About Bob?
Bob Williams is in his third season as head coach at UCSB. Last year he guided the Gauchos to a 14-14 overall record and a solid 10-6 mark in Big West play. He is the first coach in UCSB history to open his career with back-to-back seasons of .500 or better. In addition, he has led the Gauchos to a two-year record of 22-10 in league play, a winning percentage of .687, the best two-year league mark in school history. In his first season, Williams led UCSB to the Big West's Western Division championship, a 15-13 record overall and a 12-4 record in league. He was named Big West Coach of the Year in 1999. Williams has posted a 30-31 overall record. In his career, which includes stops at UC Davis and Menlo College, he now has a 219-131 record.

Probable Starters - Notes
G - B.J. Ward - Scored a career-high 15 points against Westmont.
G - LaRon Bryant - 13 of his 16 baskets have been three-pointers.
F - Mark Hull - Had a season-low four points vs. Westmont.
F - Juliano Jordani - Leads the team in rebounding at 7.2 per game.
F - Mike Vukovich - Has fouled out of four out of five games.

Possible Reserves - Notes
G - Jacoby Atako - Has 21 assists and ten turnovers in first five games.
G - Nick Jones - Playing on sore ankle, still went 11 minutes Saturday.
F - Casey Cook - Has averaged 6.0 points and 5.2 rebounds in last four.
F - J.J. Todd - Has played 26 minutes in last three games.
G - LaDonte King - Has yet to play in first five games.
F - Adama Ndiaye - Out at least four more weeks with fractured finger.
G - Branduinn Fullove - Returned and played 26 minutes vs. Westmont.

Injured List Dwindles To One
Freshman guard Branduinn Fullove returned to the court on Saturday, 13 days after spraining his ankle at Pepperdine. While he had limited mobility, he did score six points and grab seven rebounds in 26 minutes. Another freshman guard, Nick Jones, played for the second straight game with a gimpy ankle and he went 11 minutes. The lone injury holdout remains Adama Ndiaye. Ndiaye fractured the ring finger on his left hand three days before the season-opener at Pepperdine, had a pin inserted the next day and he is still sidelined for a minimum of four more weeks.

The Opponents
Santa Barbara and San Diego State have played 73 times with the Aztecs holding a 39-34 advantage. SDSU defeated the Gauchos in San Diego last year by a score of 60-57. USC leads the series with UCSB by a 9-0 count. The Trojans beat the Gauchos in Los Angeles last season, 94-73.

Youth Is Served
Through five games, UCSB is utilizing its underclassmen (freshmen and sophomores) at a very high rate. Freshmen have recorded 361 of the team's 1,050 total minutes, 34.4%. Sophomores have played 311 minutes, 29.6%. Combined, the UCSB underclassmen, not to be confused with the underclass, have played 672 minutes, 64.0% of this season's available minutes. Last year, Mark Hull became the first freshman to lead the Gauchos in minutes played and this season he is once more leading the way. Hull has logged 174 minutes in five games, an average of 34.8 per contest. Statistically, sophomores and freshmen have combined for 68.2% of UCSB's points (214 of 314).

The Baskets Don't Have Lids Afterall
After three games, UCSB was having some serious problems with its field goal shooting. The Gauchos had made just 36.2% of their shots. They had a peak of 43.1% in an overtime loss to USF and a low of 29.4% at BYU. In their first six halves of basketball, they made 50.0% or better just one time, the first half against USF when they made exactly half of their shots. In last Wednesday's effort at UCLA, things changed somewhat. The first half was UCSB's best offensive half of the season as they made 15-of-27 shots (55.6%) and, despite going 14-of-30 (43.3%) in the second half, they finished with a season-best 49.1% from the floor. After shooting 36.2% in their first three games, UCSB has shot a respectable, if not spectacular, 45.5%.

Three-Point Explosion
In three games prior to the UCLA contest, Santa Barbara had made only 13-of-44 shots from three-point range, a dismal 29.5%. At Westwood, however, the Gauchos exploded, nearly doubling their three-point production for the season. For the game, UCSB made 12-of-22 points from beyond the three-point arc 54.5%. They followed that up with a solid 7-of-19 (36.8) performance against Westmont. In the last two games, the Gauchos have combined to go 19-of-41, 46.3%.

Re-Warding Effort
Sophomore point guard B.J. Ward was pushed by freshman Jacoby Atako during the preseason. In fact, he was pushed to the point that there was some question about who would ultimately wind up with the spot in the starting lineup. Five games into the season, Ward has left little doubt about who should be the starter. On Saturday against Westmont, it was his three-pointer at the buzzer that send the game into overtime and enabled UCSB to post its first win of the season. He finished with a career-high 15 points, including the first two three-point baskets of his career, and a game-high six assists. In five games, Ward has averaged 10.0 points, 5.0 assists and nearly two steals per game. Last year he had 39 assists and 54 turnovers in 372 minutes over 28 games, this year he has 25 assists and 16 turnovers in 137 minutes over five games. In addition to his career-best 15 points against Westmont, Ward played a career-high 31 minutes and after averaging only 13.3 minutes per game last year, he is averaging 27.4 per game this season. Finally, the team's leader in assists, Ward has collected five or more in four of the six games.

A Lull For Hull
After going for a career-best 23 points in last week's loss at UCLA, sophomore Mark Hull did not fare as well against Westmont, scoring only four points on 2-for-8 from the field and 0-for-2 from the free throw line. In fact, in the two games prior to Westmont, Hull recorded career-high performances, going for 21 at BYU. Though he had his troubles against Westmont, Hull remains UCSB's leading scorer at 15.0 per game. Clearly, the game at UCLA was the best offensive performance of his career. Not only did he score 23 points, but he made 9-of-12 shots overall and a career-best 5-of-6 three-pointers. The only area of struggle for Hull has been his free throw shooting. After making his first 12 at BYU, he missed his last one. Then last week at UCLA he missed both that he attempted and against Westmont he was 0-for-1. As was the case last year, Hull easily leads the team in minutes played. In five contests this season he has played 174 minutes, an average of 34.8 per game. The next closest player, LaRon Bryant, has played 139, 35 fewer than Hull. Finally, he has played 30 or more minutes in all five games and after entering the year with a career-high of 34 minutes played, he has played 34 or more in four of the five games.

Costly Throws
Believe me, to this point, the throws have not been free for the Gauchos, they've been very costly. While they have shot well in two games (88.9% against Pepperdine and 80.0% against BYU), the other three games were a struggle and in two of those contests, vs. USF and at UCLA, the inability of the Gauchos to make free throws may have cost them the respective games. UCSB went 13-of-25 from the costly throw line in an overtime loss to USF, they were 9-of-16 in a six-point loss at UCLA and in a win over Westmont they went 4-for-11. In those three games, the Gauchos were 26-of-52 from the line, 50.0%. On the year, UCSB has gone 62-of-95 from the line, 65.3%.

Mr. Outside
With the continued absence of Adama Ndiaye, UCSB continues to struggle to find someone to give them an offensive presence inside the key. While the Gauchos search for Mr. Inside, they will have to make due with LaRon Bryant, Mr. Outside. Bryant tied his career-high with 15 points against Westmont on Saturday, every point coming on three-point baskets. He was 5-for-10 from beyond the three-point arc and on the season, he has now hit 13-of-27 (48.1%) from that distance. In fact, 13 of Bryant's 16 buckets on the season have been three-pointers. He has made at least one three-pointer in all five games and two or more in four out of the five games. Bryant has tied his career-high of 15 twice this season, going for 15 vs. USF as well as Westmont. In his two seasons, he has now made 44-of-102, 43.1%. In fact, since starting the 1999-2000 season by making only 4-of-22 shots from three-point range (18.2%), he has made exactly 40-of-80, and it doesn't take a Nobel Prize winner (and if I needed to, I could get one on this campus) to figure out that is 50.0%. Also, in his two years, he has made 44 threes and 18 twos.

Another Good Point
B.J. Ward is not alone on the Gaucho point guard front. Freshman Jacoby Atako has had his moments as well. While he has yet to discover his shooting touch, Atako has been more than adequate at running the show. In five games he has played 105 minutes and passed off for 21 assists, an average of 4.2 per game. By contrast Atako has committed a mere ten turnovers. In fact, he and his backcourt running mate Ward have had some very good games in tandem. Last week at UCLA they combined for 12 assists and only two turnovers. On the year, the duo has gone for 46 assists (9.2 per game) and 26 turnovers (5.2 per game).

Fullove Not Fullstrength
Freshman guard Branduinn Fullove was not at full strength (incidentally, the typo in the headline was not an accident) in his return against Westmont, but at least he was in the lineup. Fullove had six points, seven rebounds and one assist in his first game since the opener at Pepperdine. In the game at Pepperdine, he led UCSB with 13 points, but with a couple minutes remaining, he sprained his ankle and missed the next three contests. On Saturday, he played 26 minutes, a considerable amount since he was not expected to return until the game against San Diego State.

Rebounding Woes Plague Gauchos
Since Bob Williams arrived at UCSB a couple of seasons ago, the Gauchos have earned a reputation as a pretty adept rebounding team. This year, rebounding has not been one of the team's strong points. After winning the Big West rebounding title a year ago, this year's version of the Gauchos is being outrebounded by a margin of 3.0 rebounds per game. In fact, UCSB has been outrebounded in three out of four games. They have outrebounded USF and BYU and been outrebounded by Pepperdine, UCLA and Westmont.

On The Docket
Following the completion of the current homestand, the Gauchos will take several days off for final exams. UCSB returns to the hardwood on December 22 for a 7:30 p.m. game at St. Mary's College.