Men's Basketball Looks To Bounce Back At UC Riverside And At Home Against Loyola Marymount

Men's Basketball Looks To Bounce Back At UC Riverside And At Home Against Loyola Marymount

Dec. 26, 2000

This release is available in PDF format on the UCSB men's basketball main page.

The Schedule
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

The Gaucho Record
On Friday, December 22 UC Santa Barbara gave St. Mary's an early Christmas gift, losing at Moraga, 71-63. The defeat to the Gaels 13 days after UCSB's last game, a heartbreaking 75-73 loss to nationally-ranked USC. To be more blunt, the Gauchos played arguably their worst game of the season following their best game. Santa Barbara enters the week with an overall record of 2-6. Since losing their home opener in overtime to USF, the Gauchos have won two of their last three games at the Thunderdome, but they are 0-4 on the road. While UCSB is winless on the road, 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 31-33 overall record. In his career, which includes stops at UC Davis and Menlo College, he now has a 220-133 record.

Gauchos On The Radio
All UC Santa Barbara men's basketball games are broadcast live on KEYT NewsRadio, 1250 AM in Santa Barbara. The legendary Randy Lee handles the play-by-play and, for most games, former UCSB player and Los Angeles Laker Don Ford, handles the color analysis.

Probable Starters - Notes
G - B.J. Ward - Leads the team with 34 assists and 12 steals.
G - LaRon Bryant - Has made only 5-of-22 three-pointers in the last three games.
F - Mark Hull - Has tallied in double-figures in six of the last seven games.
F - Juliano Jordani - Had season-high 15 points (5-of-11 FGs) and had nine rebounds. vs. SMC.
F - Mike Vukovich - Scored in double-figures two times in first 54 games. Has done so in last three.

Possible Reserves - Notes
G - Jacoby Atako - Has 26 assists and only 12 turnovers in his eight games.
G - Branduinn Fullove - Went 0-for-6 from the field in loss at St. Mary's.
G - Nick Jones - Has played ten or more minutes in seven of eight games.
F - Casey Cook - Missed all three of his field goal attempts at St. Mary's.
F - J.J. Todd - After playing in five straight games, he did not play at St. Mary's.
G - LaDonte King - Has yet to play in first eight games.
F - Adama Ndiaye - Remains sidelined with fractured ring finger on left hand.

The Tiresome Injury List
People, I must be honest with you, I am tired of talking about injuries. To my knowledge, most of the injuries suffered by Gaucho players this season have healed to the point that they can play. Unless something happened over Christmas, while was enjoying oodles of food and fun with my wife and child, the only player absent from the lineup when UCSB takes the court at UC Riverside, will be the only player who has missed every game this year, Adama Ndiaye. Three days before the season-opener at Pepperdine, Ndiaye suffered a fractured left ring finger. He had a pin placed in the injured digit and he remains in street clothes.

The Opponents
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.

Forget The Post-Christmas Blues
All of the presents have been opened. The food has been eaten and the pounds have been tacked on. The Christmas buildup got us all excited and now, here we are, after Christmas with a few pounds to shed and more clutter for the closet in the extra bedroom. Bah, humbug. The post-Christmas blues are upon us, right? Not if you are Bob Williams and the Gauchos. In his two-plus seasons as head coach at UCSB, Williams has found the going pretty tough in games prior to Christmas Day. Including this season, since he came on-board after a successful stint at UC Davis, the Williams-led Gauchos have recorded a pre-Christmas record of 5-20 (.200) and a post-Christmas record of 26-13 (.667). Included among the early-season losses, are defeats at the hands of USC (three times), Stanford, UCLA, BYU (twice), Pepperdine (three times) and USF (three times). In addition, in those 20 losses, four were by one-point, one was by two-points, three were by three-points and two were by four-points. Overall, 13 were by fewer than ten-points.

The Young And The Restless
Through eight games, UCSB is utilizing its underclassmen (freshmen and sophomores) at a very high rate. Freshmen have recorded 592 of the team's 1,725 total minutes, 34.3%. Sophomores have played 510 minutes, 29.6%. Combined, the UCSB underclassmen have played 1,102 minutes, 63.9% of this season's available minutes.

The Lids Returned To The Down Position
After some moderate improvement in their shooting from the field, the Gauchos suffered through a horrible second-half in their loss at St. Mary's on Friday. While UCSB shot a solid, if not holiday-worthy, 45.2% in the first half at Moraga, they slumped to a frigid 7-of-31, 22.6%, in the second half. It was easily the team's worst shooting half of the season and it gave them a game-ending 33.9% mark, the third worst mark of the season (they shot 29.4% at BYU) and it was the fourth time they had shot under 35.0% for a game. UCSB has yet to hit 50.0% of its shots in any one game. The best percentage recorded by the Gauchos this season was the 49.1% they made in a loss at UCLA. In fact, that was the only time that UCSB has shot better than 43.1% in a game this season.

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 Comes To A Screeching Halt
While UCSB has still made more three-point baskets than its opponents (50-49), they had easily their worst game of the season from beyond the three-point arc when they made a mere 3-of-21 in the defeat at St. Mary's. The Gauchos mark of 14.3% from three-point range was worse than the 21.4% they shot in a loss at BYU. In fact, on the year, UCSB has been pretty decent from long range even after the dismal performance at Moraga, they are shooting 32.7%. UCSB is out-shooting its opposition from three-point territory. UCSB has made 50-of-153 three-pointers, as mentioned earlier, 32.7%, while opposing teams have made only 49-of-172, a lowly 28.5%. Of Santa Barbara's 50 three-point buckets, 37 have come in the last five 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%. LaRon Bryant leads the team with 18 three-pointers. Mark Hull is second on the squad with 14. 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 6.2 per game. Last year's team made 33.5% from beyond the arc as opposed to this year's 32.7%. 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 eight games at 15.6 points per game. He has been in double-figures six times in eight games, including six of the last seven 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 47 points in the first half of games, an average of 5.9 points per first half, and 78 points in the second halves and overtimes, an average of 9.9 after the half. At St. Mary's, Hull made 5-of-8 from two-point range, but suffered through his worst three-point shooting game of the season, making only 1-of-7. Still, he has led or tied for the team-lead in scoring four times this year. Hull also easily paces UCSB in minutes played with 284, an average of 35.5 per game. He is 44 minutes ahead of the second-place Gaucho, LaRon Bryant, who has played 240 minutes.

The New And Improved 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 three 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. In last week's loss at St. Mary's, he fouled out on more than one bad call, but still managed to record his third straight double-digit scoring performance, going for 12 points on 4-of-6 shooting from the floor and 2-for-2 from the free throw line. So, after scoring a total of 27 in the first five games, Vukovich has scored 40 in the last three, an average of 13.3 per game, and after pulling down a total of 20 rebounds in the first five, he has pulled down 22 in the last three, an average of 7.3 per game. Additionally, Vukovich has made 15-of-22 field goal attempts in the last three, 68.2%, and 10-of-11 free throw attempts, 90.9%. On the year, he is the only player on the roster shooting better than 50.0% overall at 51.0% and he is now third on the team in scoring at 8.4 points per game and he has moved into second-place among Gaucho rebounders at 5.2 per game. Vukovich leads the team in blocked shots with 13, an average of 1.6 per game, second in the Big West Conference. Finally, after scoring in double-figures in his first 54 games as a Gaucho (49 in his first two seasons and the first five this season), Vukovich has turned the trick in each of the last three games.

Welcome Back Juliano
There was at a minimum, one bright spot in the loss at St. Mary's and that was the reappearance of senior forward Juliano Jordani. The native of Sao Paulo, Brazil scored a season-high 15 points and grabbed nine rebounds. The 15-point performance tied his second-best total ever (he had 15 in a Big West Tournament game against Nevada last season). Additionally, Jordani blocked a pair of shots, his first two of the season and numbers two and three in his career. On the season, the 6-foot-7 Jordani is now averaging 6.0 points and a team-leading 6.4 rebounds per game. In the game at Moraga, he hit 5-of-11 shots from the field, including 5-for-10 from inside the three-point arc. In the three games prior to the one at St. Mary's, Jordani had made only 4-of-18 shots, 22.2%. He is now making 32.7% of his shots overall, 41.2% from two-point range. Jordani is shooting only 13.3% from three-point range and on the year he is 2-for-15 from beyond the arc, with both three-pointers coming in the game at UCLA. With that game excluded, he has gone 0-for-12 from three-point territory, including 0-for-7 in the last four games. His nine-rebound performance at St. Mary's marked the fourth time this year that he had produced at least that many.

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 and Juliano Jordani's performance at St. Mary's throws his hat into the ring, but 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. While he has struggled from beyond the three-point arc in his last two outings (2-for-10, 20.0%), he remains the team-leader in three-point baskets with 18. Bryant has now hit 18-of-49 (36.7%) from that distance. In fact, 18 of Bryant's 28 baskets (64.3%) on the season have been three-pointers. He has made at least one three-pointer in all eight games, two or more in five out of the eight 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 49-of-124, 39.5%. In fact, since starting the 1999-2000 season by making only 4-of-22 shots from three-point range (18.2%), he has made 45-of-102, 44.1%. Also, in his two years, he has made 49 threes and 25 twos. Finally, in his last four games, Bryant has averaged 13.2 points per game.

Fullove's Full Plate
Freshman Branduinn Fullove made his first start as a Gaucho in the loss at St. Mary's and while he struggled offensively (0-for-6 shooting and his first scoreless outing), he did have six rebounds. While he did not have a stellar offensive game in his last outing, he was not alone and it doesn't diminish what he did his first four games. The biggest splash of Fullove's brief career came 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 seems to have bounced back from the badly sprained ankle he suffered while scoring 13 points to lead the team in the season-opener at Pepperdine. He is fourth on the team at 8.2 points per game and it would seem that he has a reasonable chance to become the first true freshman to average in double-figures for the Gauchos since Carrick DeHart did so in 1986-87. Mark Hull averaged in double-figures last year, but he was a redshirt freshman.

Point Guard Teeter-Totter
For UCSB's youthful point guard tandem of B.J. Ward (sophomore) and Jacoby Atako (freshman), the first eight games have been an up-and-down thing. Ward has started every game and he is averaging 7.4 points, 4.2 rebounds, 4.2 assists and 1.5 steals per game. Atako is averaging 4.2 points, 3.2 assists and 1.8 rebounds per game. Combined, the duo has come up with 60 assists and 42 turnovers. Ward has struggled a bit in the last three games, passing off for nine assists and producing 14 turnovers. Atako, on the year, has 26 assists and only 12 turnovers, a 2.2-to-1.0 ratio. In fact, only once this year has the freshman from Santa Monica had more turnovers than assists (four turnovers and one assist vs. Westmont).

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-53, 26.4.0%), his overall game has been good. He is averaging 4.8 points and 4.8 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 6.0 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 four times including each of the last two and he had a season-high nine boards vs. USF.

The End Of A Short Era
When freshman Branduinn Fullove started in place of junior Mike Vukovich at St. Mary's, it was the first change in UCSB's starting lineup this season. In the first seven games, the Gaucho starters were B.J. Ward, LaRon Bryant, Mark Hull, Juliano Jordani and Vukovich. Fullove got the nod at St. Mary's because the 6-foot-9 Vukovich had suffered from a case of the flu and missed two days of practice prior to the game.

No Block Party
With the absence of Adama Ndiaye, UCSB is hard-pressed to find many blocked shots. They have 19 in eight games. In contrast, the opponents have 43. UCSB has had more blocks than its opponent one time this season.