The scorched nets at S.B. City College’s Sports Pavilion gave testimony to the talent of the Santa Barbara Breakers last Friday night, but the subsequent cooling off showed that the International Basketball League team is a work in progress. The Breakers made 72 percent of their shots while whipping the Seattle Mountaineers, 135-105, in their home debut, but they lost to the same team 24 hours later, 118-113, when they failed to execute down the stretch.
“We’re not a team yet,” said Curt Pickering, the Breakers’ general manager and coach. “The crowd pumped us up in the first game, but our confidence wavered when we got in a tight situation the next night.”
The announced attendance on opening night was 1,686, and Pickering said he’s more confident than ever that this professional basketball experiment will prove successful in Santa Barbara. He cited two reasons: The IBL season is not overly long (a tidy 20 games through June), and the timing is ideal for players who want to be invited to NBA tryouts or land international contracts in the summer.
Two such players are Toby Bailey and Billy Knight, who combined to score 60 points for the Breakers in the home opener. ESPN commentator Steve Lavin, who coached both of them during his 12 years at UCLA (seven as the head man), watched Friday’s game from a courtside seat. “Billy was always an excellent marksman from three-point range,” Lavin said. “He’s a stronger and more complete player now. He puts the ball on the floor, gets to the free-throw line, leads the break-he had a nice dump-off to Toby-and how about that dunk on a follow shot?”
Bailey, who led the Bruins to the 1995 NCAA championship and played two seasons with the Phoenix Suns, wants to make another run at the NBA at age 31. “Toby is playing with a lot of confidence,” Lavin said. “It’s a mystery to me why he’s not on an NBA team. There’s an element of timing and fate. Look at Steve Nash. He didn’t start to shine until he got into the right system with a coach who believed in him, and the MVP honors came rolling.”
Lavin was sitting Friday with Westmont College coach John Moore, his brother-in-law, and aspiring actress Mary Ann Jarou, his fiancee. The couple will be married in August, and although Moore is part of Lavin’s family, he will take a back seat to Lavin’s best man, another coach of some repute-John Wooden.
The Breakers, meanwhile, will be back in action at SBCC on Friday night, April 20, against the Tri-Valley Titans from Livermore.
WEEKEND HITS: UCSB clinched a home match in the postseason men’s volleyball playoffs by sweeping USC last week. The Gauchos will host UCLA at 7 p.m. on Saturday, April 21, at Robertson Gym. UCLA has won 99 NCAA championships-19 of them in volleyball-and has been trying to notch No. 100 for the past year. The Bruins soccer team was on the verge last December, but UCSB upset them 2-1 in the championship game. Will the Gauchos frustrate UCLA again?
There will be a benefit screening of the movie Quantum Hoops at 11 a.m. on Sunday, April 22, at the Riviera Theatre. Proceeds will go to the B-Rad Fund, which is helping in the recovery of Dos Pueblos High School football player Brad Ebner from a traumatic brain injury. Quantum Hoops, the story of Caltech’s brainy and persistent basketball team, was well received at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival, and director Rick Greenwald will appear at Sunday’s showing. Tickets cost $15 and can be purchased in advance by calling 965-9720 or by email to firstname.lastname@example.org.