Hoop Dreams

Sometime in April, a whistle will blow, a ball will be thrown in the air, and — as two tall bodies leap after it — professional basketball will once again be played in Santa Barbara. Curt Pickering  announced last week his plans to form a new S.B.-based team in the 2007 International Basketball League (IBL) season. Pickering founded the Montecito Basketball Academy and was  director of the short-lived Santa Barbara Islanders — a Continental Basketball Association (CBA) team that flared up and fizzled locally in the early 1990s.

Though the team still remains nameless and its home court undecided — Pickering is in negotiations with Santa Barbara City College to use the Sports Pavilion as home base — the roster is already three players deep with more on the way. Former UCSB standout Adama Ndiaye is signed to return to the local basketball landscape after two years playing pro ball in Europe. Also locked in are former USC player Sam Clancy and another Gaucho alum, Branduinn Fullove. Don Sellers, a 15-year veteran of basketball coaching and scouting, will leave his position as an assistant coach for a Utah-based CBA team to be head coach for the new S.B. squad.

The IBL is comprised of 25 teams from across the nation including California teams in Chico, Fremont, and Oakland. Essentially a professional minor league to the NBA, the IBL features two unique rule changes that speed up the game and promote high scoring. Unlike the NBA, which allows teams six timeouts per game, IBL teams only get one timeout per quarter. Additionally, the IBL has an immediate in-bounding rule. In most basketball games, after someone scores, the referee gets the ball, gives it to a player positioned out of bounds under the hoop, and that player passes the ball in. In the IBL, the ref gets the ball after the score and immediately throws it to the nearest already in-bounds player. Last year, IBL teams averaged just more than 126 points per game.

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