The UCSB men’s basketball team can learn a lot about itself today.

A decision by the NCAA to determine the status of senior guard Nick Jones’ season is expected today. After launching a probe on Jones’ involvement in an unsanctioned summer league basketball team in Mexico, the NCAA will rule to either punish Jones for the rules violations or excuse the act as an innocent slip-up. Simply put, UCSB will know today whether Jones will play this season or not.

The Gauchos will also see how much progress they’ve made in practice over the last few weeks when they hit the hardwood again tonight at 7 at the Thunderdome for an exhibition test against Ratiopharm Ulm, a professional basketball team from Germany. Santa Barbara handed the EA Sports All-Stars a 91-62 pounding on Nov. 5 in the Thunderdome in its first exhibition game.

“[The exhibition games] serve a couple of purposes,” UCSB Assistant Coach David Campbell said. “They get rid of those first-game nerves. Then we can go to the film and see what we need to work on for the season.”

Jones, the senior leader from Oxnard, practiced with the team this week and looked extremely sharp, but he will watch tonight’s contest from the sidelines. Regardless of the NCAA decision, Jones will not play in the exhibition game. With Jones potentially ineligible this season, the UCSB coaching staff has had to reconsider some of its roster moves. UCSB Head Coach Bob Williams originally wanted to redshirt sophomore guard Josh Davis to let him develop his game for next season, but he may be forced to use Davis, since Jones’ status is pending.

In addition, sophomore guard Cecil Brown, who started in Jones’ absence in last Wednesday night’s win, could see more minutes this season. Brown showed his versatility against the All-Stars, driving the lane and hitting his perimeter shots to lead the Gauchos with 15 points in 30 minutes. Brown was sidelined during Monday’s practice due to a slightly bruised heel and will be a game-time decision tonight.

The Thunderdome is pit stop number two for Ratiopharm Ulm on its six-game, two-week tour of NCAA schools in the United States. Ulm lost to the University of the Pacific 74-57 on Nov. 7 and will face Pepperdine, Loyola Marymount, Grand Canyon University and Arizona State in the next week. Point guard Michael Bree – from Sligo, Ireland – averaged 10 points and over four assists in his senior season for Davidson College last year.

Santa Barbara’s regular season opener against the University of Hawaii in Honolulu is just nine days away, and the Gauchos realize that tonight’s contest will be more of a test of progress than a must-win game.

“We’re just trying to get better during these exhibition games,” sophomore forward Cameron Goettsche said. “The coaching staff doesn’t really stress wins or losses. We’re just trying to improve every single day.”