January 26, 2001

Second Chance

Jan. 26, 2001

By DAVID DUNCH
Ass't Sports Editor, The Santa Clara

SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- A lot of us don't get second chances to do something we love. From the looks of things, Steve Ross is one of the lucky ones.

It's been a long road for the junior transfer from the University of San Diego to get where he's at now, which is starting at the small forward position for the Broncos. After sitting out the first eight games this year because of NCAA regulations, Ross has made an immediate impact, averaging 11.2 points and 5.1 rebounds in 11 games. And it almost never happened.

After a freshman season with the Toreros in which he saw limited action, Ross played in one exhibition game his sophomore year before suffering an injury, which is where the controversy over his eligibility lies. As it stands now, Ross lost his entire sophomore year of eligibility because of that one game. With the help of members of the Santa Clara athletic department, Ross is currently fighting to get that year back. Regardless, he knew San Diego wasn't the place for him anymore.

"It was a bunch of things [that led to the transfer]," Ross said. "There was a problem with chemistry with the coaching staff. It just wasn't the right fit, and I knew that during my freshman season, but I decided to go back and give it more time. Eventually I knew it was time to go. Everything has worked out great though. Now I'm at a place that I really want to be at."

But before he landed here, Ross made a pit stop back home, which just happens to be in another country. Like former Bronco and current Dallas Maverick Steve Nash, Ross is from Canada. In order to not have to sit out a year after the transfer, he a junior college near his home in Victoria, British Columbia, not really sure of what was going to happen next.

"I was wondering where I was going to end up," Ross said. "But Coach Davey expressed interest in me and this is where I am."

"We were hoping for the best with Steve," Head Coach Dick Davey said. "But he hadn't really played for two seasons so we didn't know what to expect. We knew he was a good athlete, and he's really responded in a positive manner for us."

After a layoff to begin the season, Ross quickly found himself in the starting lineup, knocking down jumpers against the likes of No. 1 Stanford and helping the Broncos to a 3-1 record thus far in conference play.

"He has a great work ethic," Davey said. "He spends a lot of extra time making himself better, and that's something that has really helped him to adjust quickly. He still needs to continue to improve, especially defensively and rebounding, but he's maturing into the position. He hasn't nearly reached his potential yet."

Ross knew there were no guarantees coming in.

"Coach Davey didn't make me any promises," he said. "He told me I would have a chance to contribute with it being a young team, so I just went hard in practice and gave it all I had."

And it's paid off, both for Ross and his teammates.

"We have a lot to prove," he said. "People counted us out, picking us to finish like fifth or sixth in the conference, but we know we're better than that. Now we're going to go out and show it." That sounds like a guy with a second lease on his basketball life - and so far, he's making the most of it.