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title icon Breakers ride wave of success in IBL debut

Bailey, Vinson named co-MVPs after guiding SB to West final

Dave Loveton – 7/12/2007

Pro sports teams have been few and far between in Santa Barbara. The Dodgers once played minor-league baseball here, the Santa Barbara Spikers had a brief run in the International
Volleyball Association, and the pro basketball Islanders of the CBA barely made it through one season.

But Curt Pickering, the GM of the Islanders back in 1990, had a dream and he wasn’t going to let the past affect his vision of the future. Pickering, a veteran basketball coach with international experience, believed that Santa Barbarans would support a quality pro franchise. In Oct., 2006, he became an owner in the International Basketball League, a high-scoring circuit for ex-college players and aspiring pros that would start its third season in April, 2007.

“I didn’t have high or low expectations,” said Pickering, whose team was named the Santa Barbara Breakers by a public contest that drew 1,000 entries. “It was a new business and I was prepared for whatever growth rate we had.” Pickering, the owner and president of the Breakers, added “head coach” to his long list of duties when the original coach took another job. Eric Burkhardt, the former boys basketball coach at Laguna Blanca High, came on board as the assistant coach.

The Breakers drew an impressive crowd of nearly 1,700 to SBCC’s Sports Pavilion in their home opener and beat Seattle 135-105 on April 13. Eight games into the 20-game season, however, they were just 4-4 and trying to find their identity. Pickering signed several ex-NBA players from the Los Angeles area, including Toby Bailey (UCLA, Phoenix Suns), Fred Vinson (Seattle Sonics) and 6-10 Samaki Walker (Lakers, Mavericks). Santa Barbara’s season turned around when Bailey and Vinson decided to play in the road games, one day after a tough 107-104 loss at home.

On May 26 at Tri Valley in Pleasanton, Bailey tossed in 29 points and Vinson added 12 in a 129-108 win that ignited a season-high 11-game win streak. Vinson broke the IBL record for 3-pointers three times with an astonishing total of 10, 14 and 15 triples in three different games. The last one came in the penultimate game of the regular season when the knocked down 15-of-26 from the college 3-point line and scored 46 points in a 133-117 win over the Vancouver Volcanoes. Three weeks earlier, Vinson set the Breakers scoring record with 56 points on 14-21 long-range shooting in an overtime win over Eugene, Ore. The Breakers outscored their opponents 133-122 this year with a single-game high of 166 in the opening round of the IBL West playoffs.

“I’m pleased with all aspects of the season,” said Pickering. “The most important thing when you start a race is to finish it. And you don’t look at how you’re doing during the race.”
Santa Barbara averaged 933 fans for 12 home games — the third-highest total in the 22-team IBL. Five Breakers were named to the IBL All-Star team, led by former L.A. Clipper Lamond Murray (27.8 ppg). Bailey, Vinson, Allan Purnell and ex-UCLA star Billy Knight also made the squad.

Santa Barbara (17-6) won two playoff games in Portland, Ore., before falling to the Portland Chinooks 119-106 in the IBL West championship.

TEAM HONORS: Toby Bailey and Fred Vinson were named co-MVPs this week with Trayvon Lathan earning Rookie of the Year honors. Lamond Murray, the team’s top scorer in five
appearances, was the Best Offensive player, Purnell was the Best Defensive and Santa Barbara High product Mike Garrett was Most Improved. Billy Knight garnered the Sixth-Man award.

Bailey finished second on the team in scoring (24.8), fourth in rebounding (7.8), first in assists (5.9) and first in steals (1.7). Vinson’s 97 hits from 3-point range were No. 2 in the league while Purnell was third in 3-point accuracy at 56.3.

The Breakers had a strong presence in the community, conducting basketball clinics at elementary schools and creating an alliance with the Unity Shoppe. Their final regular-season
game drew a sellout crowd of 1,994 and was televised locally on Cox 8.

“From a marketing standpoint, we will be even more visible,” declared Pickering when asked about next season. “On the court, we’ll have an even greater defensive presence.”

BOYS OF SUMMER: Lamond Murray and Toby Bailey, the top two scorers on the Breakers this

season, are off to good starts in the NBA Las Vegas Summer League. The nine-day session ends

on Sunday (July 15).

Murray, 34, is trying to resume an 11-year NBA career that began in 1994 when he was chosen

seventh overall by the L.A. Clippers. The 6-7 forward is averaging 9.7 points and 6.7 rebounds for

the Denver Nuggets.

The 31-year-old Bailey, who played 73 games for the Phoenix Suns in 1998-2000, is averaging

11.7 points on 54.2 percent shooting for the Golden State Warriors. Bailey has an eye-popping

77.8 percentage from 3-point land, making 7-of-9 in three games.

BREAKERS TEAM AWARDS

Co-MVPs — Toby Bailey, Fred Vinson
Rookie of the Year — Trayvon Lathan
Best offensive — Lamond Murray (27.6 ppg)
Best defensive — Allan Purnell
Most improved — Mike Garrett
Sixth-man award — Billy Knight
Ironman (most minutes) — Toby Bailey (36.3 avg.)

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