Men's Basketball Completes Exhibition Schedule At 2-0, Prepares For Season Opener At Pepperdine On Sunday

Men's Basketball Completes Exhibition Schedule At 2-0, Prepares For Season Opener At Pepperdine On Sunday

Nov. 16, 2000

The Schedule
Game No. 1
Sunday, November 19, 2000 at 1:00 p.m.

UC Santa Barbara Gauchos at Pepperdine University Waves
at Pepperdine's Firestone Fieldhouse
Television: Fox Sports Net 2

Game No. 2
Tuesday, November 21, 2000 at 7:00 p.m.

UC Santa Barbara Gauchos vs. USF Dons
at UCSB's Thunderdome

The Gaucho Record
UC Santa Barbara will enter its regular season opener with an overall record of 0-0, which should be a surprise to nobody. The Gauchos did, however, go 2-0 in their exhibition season. On November 3 they defeated Team Concept by a score of 76-64 and on November 14, they topped the California Southwest All-Stars by a 70-63 tally. Last year UCSB finished the year at 14-14 overall and 10-6 in Big West play. After a n 0-4, 2-7 and 4-10 start, they finished-up by going 10-4 to balance the books.

Williams Enters Third Season
Bob Williams enters 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. In two seasons at UCSB, Williams has posted a 29-27 overall record. In his career, which includes stops at UC Davis and Menlo College, he now has a 218-127 record.

Probable Starters - Notes
G - B.J. Ward - Played in all 28 games last season, averaging 13.3 mpg.
G - LaRon Bryant - In final 17 games he was 27-of-51 from 3-pt. range.
F - Mark Hull - The team's top returning scorer at 10.3 ppg.
F - Juliano Jordani - Averaged 9.5 ppg and 7.5 rpg in exhibitions.
F - Adama Ndiaye - Top returning rebounder and shot blocker.

Possible Reserves - Notes
G - Jacoby Atako - Averaged 9.0 ppg, 4.5 apg and 2.5 spg in exhibitions.
G - Branduinn Fullove - Had 11 points and five boards in final exhibition
G - Nick Jones - Had 12 points and nine rebounds in 23 exhibition minutes.
F - Casey Cook - Shot 55.6% from two-point range in exhibition games.
F - Mike Vukovich - Averaged 4.5 ppg and 4.5 rpg in exhibitions.
F - J.J. Todd - Played four minutes in two exhibition games.
G - LaDonte King - Returns after sitting out last season.

The Opponents
Entering their opener, the Gauchos are 28-32 against Pepperdine. Last year, the Waves defeated UCSB in Santa Barbara by a score of 68-64. In fact, Pepperdine has won the last five contests in the series that dates back to 1940. USF leads Santa Barbara by a 21-6 count. Last year the Dons defeated the Gauchos in San Francisco by a score of 78-67. The last time the teams met in Santa Barbara, 1998, USF won 71-70. USF has won the last three meetings.

The Gauchos On The Radio
All UC Santa Barbara men's basketball games are carried live on KEYT Newsradio 1250-AM. Randy Lee calls the play-by-play with former Gaucho-great and Los Angeles Laker Don Ford handling the color.

The Gauchos In Openers
Tracking the history of UCSB season-openers under head coach Bob Williams is a simple task. He is 0-2 with a 1998 loss at Pepperdine and a 1999 loss at home to powerful Stanford. The 0-2 mark in openers comes after UCSB had won seven openers in succession. Overall, in 60 openers, the Gauchos have a 39-21 record.

Ndiaye: Sure Thing One
Barring injuries, Adama Ndiaye (pronounced Odd-a-muh Knee-eye) will be inked, not penciled, into the starting lineup. At just over 6-foot-9 and 230 pounds, he is bigger and stronger than he has been in his previous two seasons. He is the Gauchos' top returning rebounder and shot blocker and his 1999-2000 scoring average of 9.3 points per game is second among returnees. Ndiaye averaged 7.5 rebounds and 1.7 blocked shots to go along with his scoring average of 9.3 points per game. He closed the season with a rush too, averaging 11.2 points. 8.0 rebounds and 2.0 blocked shots over the final 11 games of the season. In fact, while Ndiaye shot a solid 49.7% from the floor, he shot 53.0% over the final 24 games. In two exhibition games this year, he averaged 11.0 points and 7.0 rebounds per game. If the native of Dakar, Senegal can make the same progress this year that he made last year, he has the chance to be one of the top frontcourt players in the Big West Conference.

Hull: Sure Thing Two
If Ndiaye is Sure Thing One, Mark Hull (pronounced Mark Hull) is Sure Thing Two. He is UCSB's top returning scorer at 10.3 points per game and he is its second-leading returning rebounder at 5.0 per game. Following his freshman season, the 6-foot-6 Hull was named to the Big West All-Freshman Team. In fact, he had one of the finest first seasons in Gaucho history. In addition to his scoring and rebounding numbers, Hull shot 46.3% from the field, 78.5% from the free throw line and 37.5% from three-point range. Despite the fact that he was a freshman, Hull was probably the most consistent player on the team in 1999-2000. He scored in double-figures 16 times in 28 game overall and 11 times in the last 16 games. Last season, Hull began the year at the three spot, or the small forward position on the wing. Due to a variety of injuries to teammates, specifically Juliano Jordani, he was forced to play the majority of the second half of the season at the four spot, or the power forward position. This year, depending on Jordani's ability to stay healthy, Hull will probably move back to the small forward position for the majority of his playing time. He was the lone Gaucho to score in double-figures in each of the exhibition games, averaging 10.5 points and 4.5 rebounds per game. While Hull shot only 44.4% in the two games, he did hit 4-of-8 three-point shots, 50.0%.

Jordani Makes A Push To Become Sure Thing Two
If senior forward Juliano Jordani remains healthy, he could become the third sure thing in the UCSB starting lineup. The 6-foot-7 Jordani was a starter at the outset of the 1999-2000 season, but a variety of injuries sidelined him for four games and limited his effectiveness in several others. He finished the season with averages of 5.6 points and 3.8 rebounds per game. Jordani shot only 33.9% from the field overall and 37.0% from three-point range. Prior to his injury, Jordani was averaging 10.3 points and 7.0 rebounds per game. He had produced games of 19 points and 11 rebounds at USF, 13 points and eight rebounds against USC and 13 points and eight rebounds against Pepperdine. In the 17 games after the first injury, he averaged 3.4 points and shot 29.0% from the floor. In the season finale at Nevada, however, Jordani showed new life, making all six of his field goal attempts and scoring 15 points. In the exhibition finale against the California All-Stars, Jordani had 13 points, eight rebounds and a pair of assists. He also made all three of his three-point attempts. If he remains healthy this season, Jordani could make a major impact for the Gauchos.

More Fresh Faces
Jacoby Atako isn't the only freshman making an early impact for the Gauchos. Guards Branduinn Fullove (Simi Valley High School) and Nick Jones (Oxnard's Santa Clara High School) as well as forward Casey Cook (Sacramento's El Camino High School) should all receive significant minutes, both in quantity and quality. After struggling in his exhibition debut, the 6-foot-4 Fullove bounced back with an 11-point, five-rebound effort against the California Southwest All-Stars. In that one, he made 2-of-3 shots from three-point range. Jones averaged 6.0 points and 4.5 rebounds in the two contests and Cook averaged 5.0 points and 3.5 rebounds per game. In addition, another freshman, J.J. Todd, despite playing only four minutes in the two exhibitions, has shown steady improvement in practice.

Carpe Diem: Vukovich Steps Up
Junior forward Mike Vukovich played well in the team's two exhibitions. In his first two seasons of activity at UCSB (he redshirted the 1998-99 season), the 6-foot-9 Vukovich was plagued by inconsistency. In 24 minutes of play in the exhibition season, he scored nine points, had nine rebounds, a pair of steals and a block. The Gauchos hope that he will provide solid backup for Ndiaye this season and if the exhibitions were any indication, he may be ready to do just that.

Point Of Competition
With little question, the most riveting drama early-on for UCSB has been the duel for the starting spot and playing time at the point guard position. Well, it isn't really that dramatic, but it has been a pretty good competition. Returning sophomore B.J. Ward started both exhibitions. In game one, he got into quick foul trouble and was limited to 13 minutes, scoring two points, passing off for three assists and pulling down three rebounds. In the second exhibition, against the California Southwest All-Stars, he stayed out of trouble and had a far greater impact on the game, playing 22 minutes, scoring four points, passing off for five assists, pulling down four rebounds and having one steal. Ward's main competition for the spot at the point has come from freshman Jacoby Atako (Santa Monica High School) who stepped in for his foul-plagued teammate in the first exhibition, scoring 12 points, passing off for four assists, taking five steals and producing two rebounds. In game two, he played 18 minutes and had four points and five assists. In the two games, Atako averaged 9.0 points, 4.5 assists, 2.5 steals and 1.0 rebounds per game while shooting 62.5% (5-of-8). The promising part of the whole thing was their combined performance in the game against the California Southwest All-Stars. In that game, which included opposing point guards Tezale Archie (Pepperdine) and Darius Wright (Oregon), the Ward-Atako duo combined for eight points, four rebounds, ten assists, a steal and only three turnovers.

Bryant Emerges
There are two major differences in senior off-guard LaRon Bryant this year. First off, he has a great deal more hair than he had last year. Secondly, and most importantly, he is more in tune with the Gaucho offense. Last season, Bryant led UCSB in three-point field goal percentage at 41.3% and, in fact, after opening the year 1-for-11 from three-point territory, he finished up by making 30-of-64, an outstanding 46.9%. But while he was the team's most deadly three-point threat, he did not have the all-around game to match. In two exhibition starts, Bryant was up and down. He averaged 8.0 points and 2.5 rebounds while hitting 4-for-13 three-pointers (30.7%).

Could We Take A Step Back?
When UCSB goes to the free throw line in its opener, perhaps they should try to convince the officials to let them shoot from beyond the three-point arc. After hitting 80.0% from the free throw line and 18.2% from three-point range in the first half of the first exhibition game, the Gauchos proceeded to close out exhibition play by making 14-of-26 shots from three-point range (54.0%) and 17-of-34 free throws (50.0%). In last Tuesday's game against the California Southwest All-Stars, Santa Barbara made only 7-of-16 free throws (45.0%), including a dreary 1-for-6 (16.7%) in the first half.

On The Horizon
Following its home opener against USF on Tuesday, the Gauchos will take to the road for a pair of tough contests. On Saturday, November 25 they travel to Provo, Utah to take on BYU, a team that went to the NIT last year and returns virtually its entire roster. On Wednesday, November 29 they hit the 101 to the 405 to play at powerful UCLA in a 7:30 p.m. game at Pauley Pavilion. The Gauchos return hom for three in a row after that, hosting Westmont College (December 2), San Diego State (December 6) and USC (December 9).