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Game #5: UCSB at Cal

<p class=txt>The Golden Bears are now 3-1, and look to a home game against UCSB to get right.

After a very tough overtime loss to Georgia in Los Angeles on Saturday, Cal returns to Haas Pavilion where they have won 20 straight contests against non-conference foes. The Bears were a perfect 9-0 last year in those such games, 8-0 in 2000-01, and 8-1 in 1999-00. In fact, the last time the Bears lost to a non-conference opponent at Haas Pavilion was on Dec 29th, 1999 (74-71 Penn). That is what Head Coach Bob Williams faces…

Williams is one of my favorite coaches from the Big West, and I believe he'll be one of the next coaches to be hired somewhere in the Pac-10. I became familiar with Williams when he was running a program approximately 10 minutes from my home here in Sacramento; UC Davis. Williams spent 8 Seasons guiding the Aggies, and concluded his tenure by winning the 1998 NCAA Division II Championship with a team that went 31-2. Two days after winning the NCAA Title and earning The 1998 National Association of Basketball Coaches Division II Coach of the Year Award, Williams was named the head man at UCSB. Last year, Williams led the Gauchos to their 1st taste of March Madness since 1990… posting a 20-11 record…and winning the Big West Tournament. It was the first Big West Tournament Title in UCSB History. In the 2002 NCAA Tournament, the Gauchos unfortunately drew the Arizona Wildcats in the first round…and managed to hang with Lute's club for the entire game…finally losing 86-81. 

Needless to say, Williams is a solid coach…and signed a 3 year extension in March of this year. 

Projected Starting Lineup: (Returning starters in Bold - 2002-03 Stats) 
PG- Jacoby Atako 6'1 180 Jr (4.3 ppg, 2.2 rpg, 4.2 apg, 1.2 spg)
SG- Branduinn Fullove 6'4 210 Jr (15.5 ppg, 3.0 rpg, 2.3 apg, 48% 3-Ptrs) 
SG/SF - Nick Jones 6'4 180 Jr - (16.3 ppg, 7.2 rpg, 1.3 apg, 59% 3-Ptrs)
PF- Mark Hull 6'7 210 Sr (14.7 ppg, 5.5 rpg, 2.5 apg, 47% 3-Ptrs)

C- Bryan Whitehead 6'8 245 Jr (3.7 ppg, 3.2 rpg, 1.2 apg) 

Cecil Brown 6'4, 185 Fr - (6.7 ppg, 2.0 rpg, 1.0 apg)
Casey Cook 6'8 220 So - (6.7 ppg, 2.8 rpg)
Scott Rainey 6'10 225 Fr - (0.0 ppg, 0.8 rpg) 
Josh Davis 6'5 200 Fr - (3.0 ppg, 0.8 rpg)
B.J Ward, 6'1 175 Sr - (1.7 ppg, 1.7 rpg, 1.0 apg)

The Bears and Gauchos certainly have a 'mirror-image' quality to them. You can see the UCSB primary scorers in the trio of SG Fullove, SF Jones, and PF Hull…with a defensive type PG in Atako, and a 'flash' type center in Bryan Whitehead. Sound familiar? It should be, as the Cal trio of SG Wethers, SF Shipp, and PF Tamir are the primary scorers. The Bears also match Atako with a defensive PG in Diggs, and a 'flash' type center in Gabe Hughes to line up with Whitehead. Both teams played in the NCAA Tournament one year ago, and both run very similar offenses. The only slight difference I can find between the two is that the Gauchos have 4 returning starters, and the Bears have 3. 

The Gaucho Backcourt is led by three juniors; point-man Jacoby Atako, shooting guard Branduinn Fullove, and combo Nick Jones. Jones & Fullove might be the best backcourt duo in the Big West this year, though I believe Jones is the steadier player overall, as Fullove can struggle from time to time. Still, Fullove was the Gauchos #2 scorer a year ago…and since both of them can trigger the 3-ball quite well (both Jones & Fullove shot over 42% last year), they are accomplished scorers. Behind this trio, the Bears will likely see some of B.J Ward (PG), Cecil Brown (SG), and Josh Davis (SF)…with the frosh Brown being the best out of the lot. Davis played locally here in Sacramento last year for Elk Grove HS. 

On the frontcourt, the Gauchos have one consistent threat…and his name is well known around the Big West. Mark Hull just might be the most underrated player on the left coast, and in one word I would simply label him as…Consistent. Hull has played 93 games for the Gauchos in his career, and he has started every single one of them (all under Bob Williams). Hull can play both inside and outside, and he's a pretty well rounded defensive guy too. He can also flat-out shoot the trifecta, and just ask Arizona last year when Hull shot 6 for 6 in the 1st half (being guarded by Luke Walton) leading the Gauchos to a 35-32 1st half lead in the 1st Round of the NCAA Tournament. Hull finished 8 of 11 from behind the arc in that contest, and 8 for 8 from the line…32 points. Obviously, Amit Tamir should have a very entertaining battle with one of the Pre-Season favorites for Big West Player of the Year. Along with Hull, Bryan Whitehead and Casey Cook will split time. Cook is one of my favorites, since he attended El Camino HS here in Sacramento…and I truly enjoy his game. Casey had to redshirt a year ago due to strained ligaments in his thumb, but is back this year as a 3rd year Sophomore. Overall, he's a good rebounder. Scott Rainey might play a few minutes too, but the freshman from Oregon is very raw. 

Santa Barbara has played a less than spectacular early season schedule, and I am a bit surprised they are only 3-3. The Gauchos opened their season in Alaska at the Top of the World Classic, losing to Weber State, Jacksonville State, and then finally beating Centenary (who lost to Div II Alaska-Anchorage in the 2nd Round). UCSB returned home after that trip and got well quickly though, slamming USF and USC by 33 points and 16 points, respectively. They followed that up with a 4-point loss at Pepperdine, a common opponent for the Gauchos over the past 10 years. So they've played well at home, but really haven't put things together on the road.

California 2002-03 Team
Projected Starting Lineup: (Returning Starters in Bold) 2002-03 Statistics
PG- A.J Diggs, 5'9 165 Jr. (6.0 ppg, 4.5 rpg, 3.8 apg, 3.8 spg) 
SG- Brian Wethers, 6'5 215 Sr. (15.0 ppg, 5.5 rpg, 2.0 apg) 
SF- Joe Shipp, 6'5 220 Sr. SF (21.5 ppg, 5.5 rpg, 2.3 apg, 1.5 spg, 61% 3-ptrs) 
F- Amit Tamir, 6'11 260 So. (16.0 ppg, 10.0 rpg, 4.3 apg, 50% 3-ptrs) 

C- Gabriel Hughes, 6'11 230 Jr. (2.5 ppg, 3.0 rpg) 

Richard Midgley, 6'1 200 Fr. (6.8 ppg, 3.8 rpg, 2.8 apg, 39% 3-ptrs) 
Erik Bond, 6'7 205 Fr. (3.0 ppg, 1.3 rpg,1.3 apg)
Conor Famulener, 6'6 230 Jr. (4.8 ppg, 3.8 rpg, 1.0 apg) 
David Paris, 6'9 260 Fr. (Limited Minutes)
Rod Benson, 6'10 195 Fr. (Limit Top Stories