Men's Basketball Returns To Action After Lengthy Layoff, St. Mary's Is Up First

Note: A PDF version of this release is available on the Men's Basketball page of the site.

Dec. 18, 2000

The Schedule
Game No. 8
Friday, December 22, 2000 at 7:30 p.m.
UC Santa Barbara Gauchos at St. Mary's College Gaels
at SMC's McKeon Pavilion

Game No. 9
Wednesday, December 27, 2000 at 7:00 p.m.
UC Santa Barbara Gauchos at UC Riverside Highlanders
at UCR's Student Recreation Center

Game No. 10
Saturday, December 30, 2000 at 7:00 p.m.
UC Santa Barbara Gauchos vs. Loyola Marymount Lions
at UCSB's Thunderdome

Nov. 19 - at Pepperdine 64, UCSB 53
Nov. 21 - USF 77, UCSB 74 (OT)
Nov. 25 - at BYU 67, UCSB 53
Nov. 29 - at UCLA 83, UCSB 77
Dec. 2 - UCSB 57, Westmont College 50 (OT)
Dec. 6 - UCSB 80, San Diego State 77 (3 OT)
Dec. 9 - USC 75, UCSB 73
Dec. 22 - at St. Mary's - 7:30 p.m.
Dec. 27 - at UC Riverside - 7:00 p.m.
Dec. 30 - Loyola Marymount - 7:00 p.m.
Jan. 4 - *Boise State - 7:00 p.m.
Jan. 11 - *at Cal State Fullerton - 7:00 p.m.
Jan. 13 - *at UC Irvine - 7:00 p.m.
Jan. 18 - *Long Beach State - 9:00 p.m.
Jan. 20 - *at Idaho - 7:00 p.m.
Jan. 25 - *UC Irvine - 5:30 p.m.
Jan. 27 - *Cal State Fullerton - 7:00 p.m.
Feb. 1 - *at Long Beach State - 5:30 p.m.
Feb. 3 - *at Pacific - 7:00 p.m.
Feb. 8 - *Idaho - 7:00 p.m.
Feb. 10 - *Cal Poly - 7:00 p.m.
Feb. 15 - *Utah State - 7:00 p.m.
Feb. 17 - UC Riverside - 7:00 p.m.
Feb. 22 - *at Cal Poly - 7:00 p.m.
Feb. 24 - *Pacific - 3:00 p.m.
Mar. 1 - *at Utah State
Mar. 3 - *at Boise State
Mar. 8-10 - Big West Tournament

The Gauchos On The Radio
All UC Santa Barbara basketball games are broadcast live on KEYT radio, 1250 AM in Santa Barbara. Randy Lee is back for his fourth season as the play-by-play announcer and Don Ford returns for his fifth year as the primary color announcer. Much to the chagrin of the listening public, UCSB Director of Athletic Media Relations Bill Mahoney will handle the color for selected road broadcasts.

The Gauchos On
In addition to KEYT radio, all UCSB basketball broadcasts can be accessed on the internet at either or at UCSB's official athletic website,

UCSB On The Internet
The Official Athletic Site of UC Santa Barbara is UCSB is part of the FANSonly network.

The UCSB Coaches Show
The Gaucho Coaches Show, hosted by Randy Lee, can be heard every Tuesday night during the basketball season at 6:30 p.m. on KEYT Newsradio, 1250 AM.

The Gaucho Record
On Saturday, December 9 UC Santa Barbara lost a 75-73 heartbreaker to 13th-ranked USC, they have not played since and will return to action on December 22 with an overall record of 2-5. The Gauchos have won two of their last three games after an 0-4 start. While UCSB is winless on the road at 0-3, they have not played cupcakes. The Gauchos have dropped games at Pepperdine, at BYU and at UCLA.

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 31-32 overall record. In his career, which includes stops at UC Davis and Menlo College, he now has a 220-132 record.

Probable Starters - Notes
G - B.J. Ward - Scored a season-low one point in the loss to USC.
G - LaRon Bryant - Has averaged 14.0 ppg in the last three games.
F - Mark Hull - 31 of his 36 points in last two games have come in 2nd half and OT.
F - Juliano Jordani - Has made only 4-of-18 shots in last three games, 22.2%.
F - Mike Vukovich - Scored career-high 18 points vs. USC.

Possible Reserves - Notes
G - Jacoby Atako - Has 24 assists and only 11 turnovers in his seven games.
G - Branduinn Fullove - Averaging 11.0 ppg in the last two games.
G - Nick Jones - Played a season-low seven minutes vs. USC.
F - Casey Cook - Scored career-high ten points vs. USC.
F - J.J. Todd - Has played 35 minutes in last five games.
G - LaDonte King - Has yet to play in first seven games.
F - Adama Ndiaye - Remains sidelined with fractured ring finger on left hand.

The Shrinking Injured List
To the relief of the coaching staff, the Gaucho injured list continues to shrink. The injured ankles of freshmen Branduinn Fullove, Nick Jones and Jacoby Atako seem to have healed sufficiently and they are playing relatively near full strength. As for Adama Ndiaye's fractured left ring finger, that is another story. When he had the finger repaired on November 17, the original prognosis was four to six weeks, but here we are four weeks later and the healing has not gone as well as hoped. Ndiaye remains out of the Gaucho lineup for at least the next three to four weeks.

The Opponents
UCSB leads its all-time series against St. Mary's by a 20-10 margin. The Gauchos defeated the Gaels in Santa Barbara last year by a score of 68-57. The last time the teams met in Moraga was in December of 1998 and St. Mary's won on a last-second lay-up, 66-65. The Gauchos and UC Riverside have met six times and UCSB has won all six games. Santa Barbara and Riverside have not played since 1971 when the Gauchos won 69-66. UCSB and Loyola Marymount have played 75 times since the first meeting between the schools in 1937. LMU holds a 43-32 advantage. The Gauchos won last season in Los Angeles, 73-63.

The Young And The Restless
Through seven games, UCSB is utilizing its underclassmen (freshmen and sophomores) at a very high rate. Freshmen have recorded 520 of the team's 1,525 total minutes, 34.1%. Sophomores have played 449 minutes, 29.4%. Combined, the UCSB underclassmen have played 969 minutes, 63.5% of this season's available minutes.

The Lids Are Up, The Lids Are Down
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 a November 29 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. On December 2, against Westmont, the Gauchos shot 42.0%, not good, but not horrible. In the win over San Diego State, the lids were once again down. The Gauchos shot only 33.3% from the field (24-of-72). Despite their poor shooting performance against the Aztecs, UCSB scored a season-high 80 points...of course they needed 55 minutes to do so. In their last outing, against USC, the Gauchos made 41.3% from the field and they now shooting 39.0% on the year. They have been under the 40.0% mark three times and over the 40.0% mark four times, including three of the last four games.

Playing It Close To The Vest In Home Games
UCSB has played four home games this year and they have all been close calls. Three of the four games, in fact, have gone to overtime and one of those went triple overtime. The Gauchos are 2-2 in home games and the margins in those games have been three, three, two and seven (in overtime). The last time UCSB played three OT games in a season was in 1982-83. In 1981-82, they set a school record with four.

Three-Point Explosion
The Gauchos are out-shooting their opposition from three-point territory. UCSB has made 47-of-132 three-pointers, a decent 35.6%, while opposing teams have made only 43-of-151, a lowly 28.5%. Of Santa Barbara's 47 three-point buckets, 34 have come in the last four contests. The Gauchos made a season-high 12 (in 22 attempts) at UCLA on November 29 and then they had seven against Westmont, eight against San Diego State and seven against USC. In the first three games of the year, UCSB hit 13-of-44 from beyond the three-point arc, a mark of 29.5%. In the last four games, they have made 34-of-88, 38.6%. LaRon Bryant leads the team with 17 three-pointers. Mark Hull is second on the squad with 13. Eight of the nine Gauchos who have logged more than 50 minutes this season have made at least two three-pointers. Mike Vukovich is the lone exception and he has yet to attempt one and chances are if he does launch one, it will be his last. Anyway, last year UCSB set a school record with 171 three-point baskets, an average of 6.1 per game. This season, the Gauchos are averaging 6.7 per game. Last year's team made 33.5% from beyond the arc as opposed to this year's 35.6%. Finally, only six players on the 1999-2000 team made even one three-pointer as opposed to this season's eight players.

The Hull Truth, Nothing But
Sophomore Mark Hull is leading the Gauchos in scoring through seven games at 15.9 points per game. He has been in double-figures five times in seven games, including five of the last six games. In addition, Hull has tallied 20 points or better three times, doing so at BYU (21), at UCLA (23) and against San Diego State (21). His 23-point performance against UCLA was a career-high and it was the best offensive performance of his career in more ways than one. The 6-foot-6 swingman from Glendale made 9-of-12 shots against the Bruins, including a career-best 5-of-6 from three-point territory. In the game against San Diego State, Hull was fairly quiet in the first half, going for five points. In the second half and overtimes, he rallied, scoring 16 points, including the last seven in the third OT. Against USC, he had a similar outing, getting shutout in the first half only to bounce back with 15 in the second half, helping UCSB rally. In fact, this season, Hull has scored 38 points in the first half of games, an average of 5.4 points per first half, and 73 points in the second halfs and overtimes, an average of 10.4 after the half. Hull scored 27 of his 38 first half points in two games, going for 15 at UCLA and 12 at BYU.

The Re-Birth Of Mike Vukovich
Through five games this season, junior forward Mike Vukovich had scored 27 points and grabbed 20 rebounds. In those first five games, he fouled out four times and averaged 21.6 minutes per game and hit only 39.3% from the field and 50.0% from the free throw line. In the last two games, a different Vukovich has shown up. Against San Diego State, he played a career-high 33 minutes, scored ten points and set career-bests in rebounds (13) and blocked shots (4). He made 4-of-5 shots from the field and both of his free throws. In the narrow loss to USC, he scored a career-high 18, had seven boards, hit 7-of-11 shots from the floor and 4-of-5 from the free throw line. So, after scoring a total of 27 in the first five games, Vukovich has scored 28 in the last two, an average of 14.0 per game, and after pulling down a total of 20 rebounds in the first five, he has pulled down 20 in the last two, an average of 10.0 per game. Additionally, Vukovich has made 11-of-16 field goal attempts in the last two, 68.7%, and 6-of-7 free throw attempts, 85.7%. On the year, he is now fourth on the team in scoring at 7.9 points per game and he has moved into second-place among Gaucho rebounders at 5.7 per game. Vukovich leads the team in blocked shots with 12, an average of 1.7 per game, second in the Big West Conference.

What's Cooking?
Perhaps the most unsung member of the current freshman class has been 6-foot-8 Casey Cook. Branduinn Fullove and Jacoby Atako entered the season with high expectations, but Cook entered the year as the number four guy in the frontcourt. With the injury to Adama Ndiaye, however, that has all changed. While Cook has yet to heat up from the field (14-of-50, 28.0%), his overall game has been outstanding. He is averaging 5.3 points and 4.7 rebounds per game. In the narrow loss to USC, Cook scored a career-high ten points, pulled down seven rebounds and had one steal. Since going scoreless with two rebounds in the opener at Pepperdine, he has averaged 6.2 points and 5.2 rebounds per game. Cook has scored six or more points four times and he has pulled down five or more rebounds three times, including a season-best nine in an overtime loss to USF. He ranks second on the team in defensive rebounds with 25 and he is averaging 20.3 minutes per game. In fact, Cook has played at least 16 minutes in all seven games and he has gone 20 or more minutes three times.

For Starters, Consistency
Despite all of UCSB's injury troubles this season, Bob Willliams has put the same starting five on the court in all seven games. The five Gauchos to have started every game are B.J. Ward, LaRon Bryant, Mark Hull, Juliano Jordani and Mike Vukovich. UCSB has nine players averaging at least 14 minutes per game and two (Hull and Bryant) who are averaging 30 or more. Last year, not one Gaucho averaged more than Hull's 28.6 per game.

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. Mike Vukovich is making a pitch to become Mr. Inside. Clearly, LaRon Bryant is Mr. Outside. Bryant set his career-high with 19 points on December 6 against San Diego State. While he hit only 3-of-12 shots from three-point territory, he hit a couple of huge shots during the overtime periods. On Saturday against USC, he had eight points, making 1-of-5 shots from three-point range. On the season, he has now hit 17-of-44 (38.6%) from that distance. In fact, 17 of Bryant's 25 baskets on the season have been three-pointers. He has made at least one three-pointer in all seven games, two or more in five out of the seven games and three or more three times. The five he nailed against Westmont on December 2 was a career-high. In his two seasons, he has now made 48-of-119, 40.3%. 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 44-of-97, 45.4%. Also, in his two years, he has made 48 threes and 23 twos. Finally, in his last three games, Bryant has averaged 14.0 points per game.

Freshman Makes A Good Point
B.J. Ward is not alone on the Gaucho point guard front. Freshman Jacoby Atako has had his moments as well and while he had modest numbers in the narrow loss to USC, it was one of his best games. When Atako entered the game against the Trojans, the Gauchos trailed by 14, 18-4. When Atako left the game, the lead had been narrowed to three, 23-20. Despite nursing a sore ankle that allowed him to play only five minutes in the triple-overtime win over San Diego State, Atako played 21 minutes against the Trojans, finishing with five points, three assists, two steals and one rebound. On the season, the 6-foot-1 product of Santa Monica High School has passed off for 24 assists and turned the ball over only 11 times, a 2.2-to-1 assist to turnover ratio, the best on the team. Only one time this year has Atako had more turnovers in a game than assists, vs. Westmont when he had four turnovers and one assist. In games against Division I teams, he has 23 assists and only seven turnovers, a 3.3-to-1 ratio.

Fullove's Full Plate
Freshman Branduinn Fullove, still hobbled by a sprained right ankle, made the biggest splash of his brief career in the triple-overtime win over San Diego State. Playing three different positions, including point guard for the entire third overtime, Fullove did a little of everything. While he did not shoot well (1-for-6 from the field), he finished with a career-high-tying 13 points (including 10-for-12 from the free throw line), he had six rebounds, he had a career-high six assists and, for good measure, he blocked the first shot of his career. He followed his SDSU performance with another good outing against USC. In the game against the Trojans, Fullove logged 25 minutes, scored nine points (3-of-6 from the floor), had a pair of rebounds, two assists and another blocked shot. He is currently third on the team in scoring at 10.2 points per game and he has a reasonable chance to become the first Gaucho freshman to average in double-figures since 1986-87 when Carrick DeHart turned the trick.

Ward Of The Court
For the first time this season, sophomore point guard B.J. Ward will have to bounce back from a bad game. In the loss to USC, Ward played a season-low 19 minutes, scored only one point, had only two assists and committed a season-high seven turnovers. The subpar performance was an aberration for Ward, who has played well all year. He is tied for fourth on the team in scoring at 7.9 points per game, he is fifth in rebounding at 4.0 per game and he leads the team in both steals (10) and assists (4.6 per game). Ward has produced five or more assists in five of the team's seven games, including a career-high seven against USF. In the triple-overtime game against San Diego State, he played a career-high 44 minutes before fouling out, and he had a career-high ten rebounds.

Free At Last
After five games, UCSB was struggling from the free throw line. Despite a couple of standout performances (88.9% against Pepperdine and 80.0% against BYU), free throws had been very costly to the Gauchos. 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%. In the last two games, however, the tide seems to have changed. Against San Diego State, for the first time this season, Santa Barbara won a game at the line. The Gauchos made 24-of-31 charity shots, a very good 77.4%. In the three overtimes they hit 11-of-14 shots from the stripe, a helpful 78.6%. In the loss to USC, they made 14-of-20, 70.0%. In the last two games overall, UCSB made 38 out of 51 free throws, 74.5%. On the year, they are now at a season-best 68.5%.

A Steal At Any Price
Since Bob Williams arrived at UCSB a couple of seasons ago, the Gauchos have earned a reputation as a pretty good defensive team. This year, they have done little to hurt that reputation. Two years ago, the Gauchos set a school record with 236 steals, an average of 8.4 per game. Last year, they had 211 steals, an average of 7.5 per game. This year, through seven games, UCSB is once again putting up some pretty decent steal numbers with 46, an average of 6.6 per game. Nine of the ten Gauchos who have played have at least one steal and B.J. Ward is leading the way with ten. UCSB has produced four or more steals in six games and eight or more four times, including a season-high ten at BYU, nine vs. Pepperdine and eight apiece against USF and USC.