March 11, 2001
Santa Clara Men's Basketball Ends Memorable Season
March 11, 2001
SANTA CLARA, Calif. -
The Santa Clara University men's basketball team completed the 2000-2001 season last week winning six of its last seven games and advancing to the championship game of the West Coast Conference Tournament.
However, the Broncos were not invited to the NCAA Tournament nor the National Invitation Tournament, despite a 20-win season and its fourth 10-win conference record in the last seven years. Gonzaga earned the league's automatic berth in the NCAA Tournament, while Pepperdine will represent the league in the NIT.
"The most discouraging thing is our seniors not having a chance to go to postseason play," said Head Coach Dick Davey, the WCC's winningest active coach and the first Bronco mentor to lead Santa Clara to four 10-plus win seasons in WCC play. "Obviously, they aren't the only ones that contributed to what we did this year. But, they are the ones that ended their careers this season. They didn't get a chance to experience what I think is a real high in college basketball.
"Not going to postseason is discouraging, there is no doubt about that. The object of the game is to win and to get into postseason play and we didn't do that.
Seven teams from the state of California and three teams from the Bay Area earned berths into the NCAA Tournament. Gonzaga, by virtue of its 80-77 win over the Broncos in the WCC championship game, will represent the league in the annual March affair.
"We always root hard for the teams in our conference. We want our conference to do well. Not only that, we want the Bay Area to do well. We are also rooting for Cal and Stanford to be successful as well as for Fresno State coming out of this area. We like to have the teams in California show themselves well in the tournament."
The 2000-2001 season will be memorable for Bronco followers for a variety of reasons.
Santa Clara's opened the new Leavey Center on Dec. 13. The Broncos faced Fresno State in front of a near-capacity crowd in the first-ever game in the newly-renovated arena.
Senior Brian Jones surpassed Steve Nash's school record for assists. In the process, he became the first player in WCC history as well as the first ever at a Division I institution in the state of California to register 1,500 points, 500 rebounds and 500 assists in career.
Jones finished the season as a three-time all-WCC selection and led the league in steals and finished second in assists and fourth in scoring. He ended his career ranked among the all-time leaders at Santa Clara in almost every category.
"Brian Jones is one of the most accomplished college players ever to go through our program," said Davey. "He is an incredible competitor and he left his heart out on the floor every time out."
Santa Clara won six of its last seven games and owned a six-game win streak during that time that included victories over Gonzaga and Pepperdine.
Junior transfer Steve Ross joined Jones on the WCC all-tournament team and was one of the team's clutch performers during the final part of the regular-season.
Senior Jamie Holmes joined Jones on the all-WCC first-team and was the league's second-best rebounder. After dropping nearly 20 pounds during the offseason, he was one of the team's clutch offensive and defensive performers and became one of the WCC's top players.
Freshman Kyle Bailey was edged-out of the WCC Freshman of the Year voting after completing one of the top seasons ever for a Bronco freshman. His clutch three-point shooting helped the Broncos become the league's hottest team during the last half of the season. His 'Cool Hand Luke' shot at the buzzer gave the Broncos a dramatic win over Idaho State in the Leavey Center.
The Broncos won 20 games for the third time in Davey's nine seasons and went 14-5 since the 78-63 loss to Stanford in the Cable Car Classic championship game.
Junior Justin Holbrook shot an incredible 69 percent from the field and 58 percent from beyond the three-point arc in the WCC Tournament. He averaged 11.3 points in 18.3 minutes in the three games. Bronco fans won't soon forget his last-second three-pointer that gave SCU an emotional win at San Diego.
The Broncos recorded a 5-1 mark against teams from the Bay Area with the only blemish being a 15-point loss to then No. 2-ranked Stanford.
Santa Clara played one of the toughest non-conference schedules in the nation. The slate included six teams that advanced to the NCAA Tournament as well as traditionally-tough Tulsa and Purdue. The Bronco schedule was rated as high as the 14th-toughest in the nation at the end of December.