Ladies and gentlemen, the curtains have opened. Get ready for a show this season.
In its first exhibition game of the 2003-04 season, the UCSB men’s basketball team showed why it’s the favorite to win the Big West Conference. The Gauchos dismantled the EA Sports All-Stars 91-62 on Wednesday night in the Thunderdome, marking an impressive first showing.
“I know it’s just exhibition, but I thought we played pretty well,” sophomore guard Cecil Brown said. Brown led all scorers with 15 points and showed tremendous leaping ability and long-range capability. Brown registered 13 in the first half after starting in place of senior guard Nick Jones. Jones, a Big West Honorable Mention selection last year and 2002 Big West Tournament MVP, did not suit up after the coaching staff decided to sit him while the NCAA investigates a pending case involving Jones’ participation in a summer league team in Mexico.
Five Gauchos dropped double figures in points to complete the scoring frenzy. Senior guard Branduinn Fullove, an honorable mention All-American selection last year, scored 11 points on 3-6 shooting, all from behind the three-point line, while dishing out five assists.
” There are just more weapons out there,” UCSB Head Coach Bob Williams said. “Branduinn’s all about winning. In the past, he has been frustrated when he would give the ball to guys that couldn’t finish. He’s always been an excellent passer.”
Senior center Bray Skultety started the game, seeing his first action since the 2001-02 season. Skultety, a sixth-year senior, used last season as a medical redshirt campaign. The former walk-on showed aggressive defensive tenacity by diving for loose balls, showing no signs of favoring his injured knee.
“Watching Bray get up and down the court and get into the flow was nice,” Williams said. “I also liked to see freshman center Glenn Turner get in after redshirting last year with the injury.”
The EA Sports All-Stars, comprised of former college and NBA players, couldn’t hang defensively with the youthful and high-tempo Gauchos. Former UCLA stars Ed O’Bannon, Matt Barnes and Ray Young suited up but combined for just 9 of 36 from the field. Ricky Anderson, the starting power forward for the same University of Arizona team that closely nipped Santa Barbara in the first round of the NCAA Tournament two years ago, played 15 minutes last night and netted only three points.
Two Gaucho newcomers showed the Thunderdome faithful some firework highlights. Sophomore guard Joe See, a transfer from Oregon State University, ran the fast-break point with promise, dishing for dunks and kicking it out for the perimeter shot. Sophomore forward Cameron Goettsche, a 6’9″ former University of Utah player, was usually on the receiving end of See’s brilliant passes. Goettsche elevated better than anybody on the court, throwing home several monster jams and inciting the Thunderdome faithful to give him a standing ovation when Williams gave him a breather. After starring at Salt Lake City Community College last season, Goettsche seems to have finally found his niche here as a Gaucho.
“I’m really happy to be here at Santa Barbara. The area’s amazing,” Goettsche said. “It’s got the total package…. There’s not a better place to play in the country.”
The Gauchos realize that they have a long way to go to attain mid-season form. The Gauchos shot 53 percent from the field but turned the ball over 22 times.
“The guys feel good to get the first game out of their system,” Williams said. “But we are light years away from where we would like to be.”