Winners of Five Out of Six Games, UCSB Opens Big West Conference Action at Long Beach State and UC Irvine
Dec. 31, 2003
Game No. 10
Saturday, January 3, 2004 at 7:30 p.m.
UC Santa Barbara Gauchos at Long Beach State 49ers
at LBSU's Pyramid (5,000)
Radio: KTLK 1340 AM
Game No. 11
Monday, January 5, 2004 at 7:00 p.m.
UC Santa Barbara Gauchos at UC Irvine Anteaters
at UCI's Bren Events Center (5,000)
Radio: KTLK 1340 AM
UC Santa Barbara enters Big West Conference play having won five of its last six games. In its last outing, on December 21 at the Dodge Holiday Classic in Reno, the Gauchos topped Alabama State 63-53. One night earlier, on December 20, UCSB had a four-game winning streak snapped by then seventh-ranked Kansas, 72-52. The Gauchos' four-game winning streak was their longest non-conference winning streak under Bob Williams. The run of four consecutive wins included victories over Pepperdine (65-62), Westmont (66-36), San Diego (90-70) and it culminated with a road win over UCLA (61-60). The win over the Bruins was the first in the program's history.
Many Happy Returns As Gauchos Close Preseason With A Win
UCSB ended its preseason on December 21 with a 63-53 win over Alabama State at the Dodge Holiday Classic in Reno, Nevada. The win was just a small part of the story, however, as the game also marked the return of senior guard Nick Jones, who served an eight-game suspension, and the return of the real Branduinn Fullove, who struggled in his first three games after coming back from an ankle injury that forced him to miss UCSB's first five games of the year. Fullove entered the Alabama State game having made just 3-of-18 shots from the field, but against the Hornets, he hit 8-of-12 shots from the floor, including 2-of-5 from three-point range, and he finished with a season-high 23 points. Jones also had a solid performance in his first outing of the year, making 5-of-10 shots from the field, including 2-of-3 from three-point territory, to finish with 12 points in 22 minutes. Although they shot just 43.4% for the game, the Gauchos had a season-low eight turnovers and they limited Alabama State to just 37.5% shooting for the game. In addition, UCSB had six different players with at least three rebounds.
UCSB Will Take Full Roster Into Big West Play
Unless something happens before UCSB opens Big West Conference play at Long Beach State on Saturday night, the Gauchos should have a full roster available for the first time this season. Sophomore guard Cecil Brown, who sprained an ankle in practice just prior Santa Barbara's win at UCLA and then re-injured it in the first half against the Bruins, has returned to practice and is expected to be available for the game against the 49ers. Although he played briefly in UCSB's game against Kansas on December 20, Brown was not in uniform the next night against Alabama State. Senior guard Nick Jones, who was suspended for the first eight games of the season after playing in an unsanctioned summer league, was available for the first time against Alabama State. Senior guard Branduinn Fullove injured his left ankle in the team's exhibition finale on November 12 and missed the first five games of the regular season. He has played since, but struggled in his first three appearances before having a breakout game against Alabama State. Finally, freshman forward Glenn Turner missed three games after he suffered a concussion on December 10 against Westmont College. Like Jones, Turner returned in UCSB's win over Alabama State.
UCSB Equals Best Preseason Record Under Williams
Despite playing without two of its top returnees for most of the preseason, UCSB's 6-3 non-conference record equaled the best preseason record by the Gauchos under head coach Bob Williams. The 2001-02 UCSB team also posted a 6-3 preseason record. The last time a Gaucho team had a better record entering Big West play was in 1992-93 when they entered league action with a 6-1 mark.
The Williams File
Bob Williams is in his sixth season as the head coach at UC Santa Barbara. Last year, he guided the Gauchos to an 18-14 overall record and a 14-4 mark in Big West Conference play. The Big West mark earned Santa Barbara its first-ever regular season championship along with a postseason trip to the National Invitation Tournament. In addition, the success earned Williams his second Big West Coach of the Year award, his first coming after an impressive 1999 campaign. In 2001-02, Williams led UCSB to its first Big West Conference Tournament Championship ever and first NCAA Tournament appearance in 12 years. In his five-plus seasons in Santa Barbara, Williams' teams have posted an 86-70 overall record and a 56-28 record in Big West games. 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 Williams' final season, the Aggies 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 275-170 at four-year schools.
Possible Starters - Notes
G - Jacoby Atako - His 333 career assists ranks him seventh on UCSB's all-time list.
G - Branduinn Fullove - Scored a season-high 23 points in the win over Alabama State.
G - Josh Davis - Since going 0-for-8 from the field in opener, he has gone 26-of-52, 50.0%.
F - Cameron Goettsche - Since scoring 17 vs. San Diego, he has tallied 15 in the last three games.
F - Casey Cook - All five of his double-figure scoring efforts this year have come away from home.
Probable Reserves - Notes
G - Nick Jones - Made first appearance of season vs. Alabama State, scored 12 points in 22 minutes.
G - Cecil Brown - Missed the December 21 game against Alabama State with an ankle sprain.
G - Joe See - Had a career-high five assists in the win over Alabama State.
G - Chrismen Oliver - Had three assists in each of the last two games.
F - Bryan Whitehead - He has had five or more rebounds in six of the last seven games.
F - Bray Skultety - Had season-highs of five points and six rebounds vs. Alabama State.
F - Glenn Turner - Returned to the fold against Alabama State after missing three games with concussion.
F - David Kennedy - Walk-on forward has played in two games this season.
F - Derek Wheeler - Has yet to play in a game.
UCSB Picked To Repeat As Big West Regular Season Champions
UCSB will open defense of its first-ever Big West regular season championship this week. Last season, the Gauchos won the regular season title with a 14-4 record. UCSB opened the year by splitting it first four games, but then went 12-2 the rest of the way to win the title. At the league's annual media day in November, the Gauchos were selected to repeat as champions by both the coaches and the media.
Coaches Poll Results Media Poll Results Pl. Team (First-place votes) Points Pl. Team (First-place votes) Points 1. UC Santa Barbara (6) 78 1. UC Santa Barbara (22) 271 2. Utah State (3) 74 2. Utah State (4) 246 3. UC Irvine (1) 67 3. UC Irvine (3) 224 4. Cal Poly 50 4. Cal Poly 192 5. Idaho 40 5. UC Riverside 132 6. Pacific 38 6. Idaho 118 7. UC Riverside 37 7. Cal State Northridge 108 8. Cal State Northridge 28 8. Pacific 102 9. Cal State Fullerton 24 9. Cal State Fullerton 84 10. Long Beach State 14 10. Long Beach State 63
Successful Balancing Act
Based on scoring average, UCSB has two players averaging in double-figures. Senior guard Nick Jones, who has played all of one game, leads the team at 12.0 points per game. Let's forget Jones for a second, the team's leading scorer to this point is junior forward Casey Cook at 11.6 points per outing. In reality, he is the only Gaucho player averaging ten or more per game. Sophomore guard Cecil Brown, who has been limited to 32 minutes in the last three games, missing the last game entirely, was averaging in double-figures before spraining his left ankle in practice before the win at UCLA, but he is now averaging 9.5 points per game. Senior guard Branduinn Fullove has played in four games, but before scoring 23 in his last game against Alabama State, he had struggled and he is currently averaging 8.8 points per game. Overall, not including Jones, UCSB has seven players averaging 6.7 points or more. Nine different players have had at least one double-figure scoring game and six have scored 15 or more in a game. Fullove's 23-point effort in the last game was most points scored by a Santa Barbara player this season. Finally, through nine games, five different players have led the team in scoring and only Cook (four times) and Brown (twice) have led the way more than once.
Rebounding By Committee
Last year, for the first time in Bob Williams' tenure as head coach at UCSB, the Gauchos were outrebounded by their opponents. This season, Santa Barbara is making a strong pitch to get back into the black when it comes to rebound margin. Through nine games, the Gauchos are outrebounding their opposition by a margin of 3.4 rebounds per game. UCSB has outrebounded seven of nine opponents, going 6-1 in those games, and they have lost the rebounding battle just twice, to St. Mary's and Kansas. As is the case with the scoring load, the rebounds have become a committee item as well. Casey Cook is the team-leader at 5.9 rebounds per game, but he just one of five players averaging 3.0 rebounds per game or more. Sophomore forward Cameron Goettsche and senior forward Bryan Whitehead are second on the team to Cook, averaging 5.4 rebounds per game each. Overall, five different UCSB players have had at least five rebounds in a game this season and nine have had at least four in a game.
Gauchos Move To 15th In Mid-Major Poll
UCSB has moved to 15th in the December 29 CollegeInsider.com Mid-Major Top-25 Poll. The Gauchos opened the season at 11th, but after a win at Hawaii, they lost a pair of games at the Doubletree Montana Holiday Classic and drifted down to 23rd. Wins in five of the last six games, however, has vaulted Santa Barbara back into the top-15. Gonzaga remains the unanimous number one team in the poll and Utah State, ranked sixth, is the highest ranked Big West team. Cal Poly and UC Irvine, also Big West Conference members, have received votes in the latest poll. UCSB, Utah State and Gonzaga are the only western schools ranked among the top-25.
UCSB and Long Beach State have one of the best long-term rivalries in the Big West Conference. The Gauchos and 49ers have met 90 times in a series that dates back to 1952 and each team has won 45 games. Last season each team won on its home court, the 49ers winning 68-67 in Long Beach and the Gauchos winning 70-46 in Santa Barbara. UCSB and UC Irvine have played 56 times since the schools first played in 1968. The Gauchos hold a 34-22 advantage and they have won three consecutive games. Last season, UCSB swept the two games, winning at Irvine 70-54 and at the Thunderdome, 67-51.
UCSB On The Road
UCSB is 2-0 on the road this season and 1-3 in neutral court games. The Gauchos opened the season with a win at Hawaii before dropping games to St. Mary's and Southeast Missouri State at the Doubletree Montana Holiday Classic. On December 17, UCSB edged UCLA, 61-60 at Pauley Pavilion. Last year, the Gauchos recorded an 8-12 record away from the Thunderdome. Included in the 8-12 was a 2-5 record on neutral courts and a 6-6 record in true road games. After getting off the mark slowly, the Gauchos closed the year by winning seven of their final 12 games away from home.
Don't Call Them Free
To call them "free throws" is a bit misleading in the case of UCSB. The Gauchos are shooting a miserable 61.8% from the free throw line, a major drop-off from last year's outstanding mark of 74.1%. Branduinn Fullove, one of the best free throw shooters in the school's history, is doing his part since returning from injury, hitting 11-of-12, but with his numbers subtracted from the equation, UCSB has gone 86-of-145, 59.3%. Since shooting 71.0% through the first three games of the year, the Gauchos have gone 63-for-109, 57.8%. In games against Pepperdine, Westmont and Kansas, UCSB made 47.4% or below. The free throw struggles have infected just about everyone on the team. In fact, since he opened the season by making 11 straight free throws, Casey Cook has hit just 11-of-22, 50.0%.
UCSB's opponents are shooting 41.5% from the field overall and 32.7% from three-point range. The Gauchos have held seven of nine opponents below the 50.0% mark from the floor and one of the teams that shot better than 50.0%, UCLA at 52.3%, lost. Santa Barbara has held its opponents below the 40.0% level four times this year and they have won all four games. In a December 10 win, the Gauchos held Westmont to 36 points, 24.1% shooting from the field overall and no three-pointers. It marked the first time since January of 1998 that UCSB had held an opponent without a three-point basket. Another solid defensive effort came in the first half against Kansas, which was ranked eighth in the nation at the time. The Gauchos limited the Jayhawks to 9-of-37 shooting in the first 20 minutes, 24.3%, their lowest mark of the season. Granted, Kansas shot 62.1% in the second half, but for 20 minutes it was a great effort by UCSB.
Entering the season, it seemed as if UCSB's hardwood fortunes were mainly in the hands of seniors. Circumstances, however, have turned that around. Just 28.9% of the Gauchos' points, 33.2% of their rebounds, 29.2% of their assists and 37.7% of their steals have come from seniors.
Plenty Of Turnover
UCSB and its opponents are turning the ball over at a pretty good clip this season. In their last two games, the Gauchos had a high and low mark for the season. In the loss to Kansas, Santa Barbara committed 26 turnovers and 24 hours later, they had a season-low of eight. UCSB has turned the ball over 138 times this year and it has forced 140.
Fullove Returned, And Now He Has Come Back
Senior guard Branduinn Fullove, the 2002-03 Big West Player of the Year, injured his left ankle in UCSB's second exhibition game. Originally, it was feared that he would be lost for the season, but he wasn't. Fullove missed the Gauchos' first five games of the year, returning for a December 13 victory over San Diego. In his first three games, however, Fullove struggled mightily. He just didn't seem to have his legs or his timing. In his first three games, against San Diego, UCLA and Kansas, he averaged 18.7 minutes per game, scored a total of 12 points (4.0 per game), made just 3-of-18 field goal attempts (16.7%), and missed all five of his three-point attempts. In his fourth game back, against Alabama State, he really came back. In the 63-53 win, Fullove played a season-high 29 minutes, scored UCSB's first 12 points and finished with a season-high 23 points, tying the second-highest total of his career. He made 8-of-12 shots overall, 2-of-5 from three-point territory and 5-of-6 from the free throw line. In the process of scoring 23 points, Fullove passed John Tschogl (1,197) and Dave Brown (1,199) to move into 11th-place on UCSB's all-time scoring list. He also became the 11th player to eclipse the 1,200 point mark and he has now scored 1,202 and needs 26 to pass Gary Gray (1,227) and move into the all-time top-ten.
In The Nick Of Time
Anyone who knows senior guard Nick Jones knows that he was going absolutely nuts during his eight-game suspension. Any player in his right mind would go a little crazy, but Jones is the Gauchos' Mr. Energy and forcing him to sit for any length of time meant torture. He made his return in UCSB's last game, a win over Alabama State, and although he was not in the starting lineup, he made his presence felt from the moment he stepped on the court. Jones played 22 minutes in his 2003-04 debut, scoring 12 points on 5-of-10 from the field and 2-of-3 from beyond the three-point arc. More than numbers, however, Jones brings Santa Barbara energy and enthusiasm unmatched by any of his teammates. In scoring 12 points, he also inched closer to becoming the 20th player in school history to score more than 1,000 in his career. Jones will enter Big West play with 989 career points, needing just 11 to hit the 1,000 point barrier.
Just In Casey
Junior forward Casey Cook was one of the main reasons that UCSB was able to stay afloat during the absence of Branduinn Fullove and Nick Jones. He has been Mr. Clutch for the Gauchos this season. In the season-opener at Hawaii, he had career-highs of 16 points and 12 rebounds to lead UCSB to a six-point win. On December 3 against Pepperdine, Cook hit his first three-pointer of the season with less than a second remaining in the game to give the Gauchos a 65-62 win over the Waves. On December 17, he scored UCSB's final four points, the last two on a pair of free throws with 18 seconds remaining, to give the Gauchos a narrow 61-60 win at UCLA. In addition, as the seconds counted down in the win over the Bruins, Cook stole an inbounds pass and lobbed the ball into the backcourt as the horn sounded. He finished with game-high totals of 15 points and six rebounds. In the next game, against nationally-ranked Kansas, he again led the way for UCSB with 16 points. Last week, Cook became the first Gaucho player this year to be named Big West Player of the Week. While he scored just eight points against Alabama State, he tied for team-high honors with six rebounds. Cook also remains the Gauchos' leading scorer at 11.6 points per game and their leading rebounder at 5.9 per game. Interestingly, Cook seems to like playing on the road. He has scored in double-figures five times this season, all five times coming away from the Thunderdome. In the Gauchos' six games away from Santa Barbara, he has made 31-of-59 shots from the field, 52.5%, and 21-of-28 shots from the free throw line, 75.0%. In those six games, he has averaged 14.0 points and 6.7 rebounds per game. In three home games, Cook has made 9-of-21 shots from the field, 42.9%, 1-of-5 from the free throw line, 20.0%, and he has averaged 6.7 points and 4.3 rebounds.
Brown Looks To Bounce Back
Sophomore guard Cecil Brown was rolling right along. He was averaging 12.0 points per game and he had a sweet-16 homestand, scoring exactly 16 points in three consecutive home wins. In practice the day before UCSB's win at UCLA, however, things took a downward turn. Brown sprained his left ankle and although he was in the starting lineup against the Bruins, he struggled to move well, re-sprained the ankle in the first half and was limited to 15 minutes of action. In the game against Kansas, he tried to give it a go, playing 17 minutes, but again he struggled, playing just 17 minutes. In the two games, totaling 32 minutes, Brown made just 2-of-8 shots overall, 25.0%, and he missed all three of his three-point attempts. In UCSB's last game, a win over Alabama State, he did not play at all. Brown may be the greatest benefactor of the team's 12 day layoff between the Alabama State game and the league opener against Long Beach State. By midweek, he seemed relatively healed and ready to go. In contrast to Casey Cook, Brown has found the going much better at home than on the road. In three home games, he made 17-of-32 shots overall, 53.1%, 6-of-13 from three-point range, 46.2%. In addition to averaging 16.0 points in the three home games, he averaged 4.0 rebounds and 2.0 assists per game. In his five games away from home, Brown made 13-of-41 shots from the field, 31.7%, 2-for-11 from three-point territory, 18.2%, and he averaged 5.6 points per game. Also, he averaged 1.8 rebounds and 1.2 assists per game away from home.
Senior Jacoby Atako has had a feast or famine year on the offensive end. Through nine games, he is averaging 6.7 points per game, eighth on the team, but in three of the games he has recorded either a career-high or the second-highest total of his career and in the other six he has scored a total of 11 points. In games against Hawaii, Southeast Missouri State and San Diego, he scored 13, 23 and 13 points respectively. The 23 points that he scored in the game against Southeast Missouri State was easily a career-high. In the other six games, he has scored totals of one, zero, two, four, and zero points. So, in games one, three and six, Atako made 15-of-22 shots from the field overall, 68.2%, 6-of-10 from beyond the three-point arc, 60.0%, and averaged 16.3 points per game. In the other six games, he made 3-of-18 shots from the field overall, 16.7%, 1-for-10 from three-point range and averaged 1.8 points per game. On the bright side, in the last six games, Atako has had 19 of his 23 assists on the year. In the win over Pepperdine, he had a season-high of six assists. In his career, he now has 333 career assists, seventh all-time. Also, while Atako has not had a steal in his last three games, he had a season-high four on December 13 against San Diego, becoming just the ninth UCSB player in history to hit the 100 steal mark. He now has 101 and ranks eighth all-time.
Sophomore guard Josh Davis thought he was going to redshirt the 2003-04 season, but the injury to Branduinn Fullove and the suspension of Nick Jones forced the UCSB coaching staff to change its plans. Obviously, Davis is not redshirting. In fact, he is one of three players to have started all nine games and he leads the team in minutes played with 247. He has played at least 23 minutes in each of the nine games and 28 or more six times. In the December 17 win over UCLA, Davis picked a great time to have one of the best games of his career. He made 5-of-6 shots, including all three of his three-point attempts, and scored 13 points, a season-high and the second-highest total of his career. He tallied 11 of his points in the first half to keep the Gauchos in the game. He followed that game up with a solid eight-point and four rebound game against Kansas. Since having his problems shooting the ball in the season-opener at Hawaii, Davis has gotten better and better. In the last eight games, he has averaged 8.0 points, 3.4 rebounds and 2.0 assists per game while making 26-of-52 shots from the field overall, 50.0%, and 7-of-13 from three-point range, 53.8%. In a December 10 win over Westmont, Davis passed-off for a career-high six assists, equaling the highest total by any Gaucho this year. Davis is now averaging 7.1 points per game and he has scored six or more in eight straight.
Cam I Am
Sophomore forward Cameron Goettsche needs only to gain some consistency to become one of the Gauchos' top offensive threats. Goettsche scored a career-high 17 points in just 20 minutes during UCSB's December 13 win over San Diego, but in the last three games, he scored a total of just 15 points and attempted just 13 shots in 63 minutes. On the year, he is now scoring 7.1 points per game and he is tied for second on the team in rebounding at 5.4 per game. Also, while Goettsche is shooting just 41.4% overall, he has made 18-of-37 shots in his last six games, 48.6%, and since collecting just six total rebounds in the first two games, he has averaged 6.2 per game in the last seven. He had a career-best 11 rebounds in the Gauchos' December 10 win over Westmont.
A Tranquil See
More and more, sophomore guard Joe See is spending time playing the point for UCSB. In the Gauchos' last game against Alabama State, he had a career-high five assists and many of his 22 minutes were spent running the offense. Such was also the case in UCSB's win over UCLA. In that game, See played 25 minutes, scoring seven points and passing-off for four assists. While See has averaged just 4.7 points per game in the last three, he is still at 7.6 per game overall, third among Gauchos who have played at least five games. He also continues to lead the team in three-point baskets with 15. He has made just two in the last three games combined, but in those three games he attempted just six total three-pointers. In the first six games of the year, he attempted 33, an average of 5.5 per game. Since opening the season by going 3-for-13 overall and 2-for-11 from beyond the three-point arc, See has gone 22-of-43 overall, 51.2%, and 13-of-28 from three-point range, 46.4%. He scored a personal-best of 15 points in a December 13 win over San Diego.
The Life Of Bryan
Senior forward Bryan Whitehead enters Big West play averaging 4.1 points and 5.4 rebounds per game. In the last seven games, he has improved his numbers, averaging 5.6 points and 6.3 rebounds per game. During the same span, Whitehead has made 12-of-24 shots from the floor, 50.0%, to improve his season mark to 45.2%. He collected a season-high eight rebounds in a win over Pepperdine and he has produced five or more six times, all within the last seven games.
Something Is Afoul With Skultety
Senior forward Bray Skultety had his best game of the season in UCSB's win over Alabama State. Skultety had a season-high five points, making 2-of-3 shots from the field, and he gathered a game-high and season-high six rebounds. He did all of his damage before fouling out in 12 minutes. In fact, in two games at the Dodge Holiday Classic, Skultety played 23 minutes and had a solid seven points and nine rebounds. He also had ten fouls, fouling out twice. While has played 90 minutes on the year, the fewest among the nine players who have played in five or more games, he easily leads the way in fouls with 29. Casey Cook is the next closet Gaucho with 25, but he has logged 229 minutes.
On The Horizon
Following UCSB's game at UC Irvine on Monday night, the Gauchos will return home for a pair of games. On Thursday, January 8, Santa Barbara will host Utah State in a showdown between last year's Big West regular season champ, the Gauchos, and the Big West Tournament champ, the Aggies. The Thunderdome tip-off will be at 7:00 p.m. On Saturday, January 10, UCSB hosts Idaho, also at 7:00 p.m.