Oct. 8, 2000
SANTA CLARA, Calif. - As the first official day of practice, Saturday, October 14 signals the start of the season for college basketball teams around the country as well as the much-anticipated unveiling of the 2000-2001 version of the Santa Clara Broncos.
With an All-America candidate at the guard position, an improved and bulked-up front line and a talented class of newcomers, optimism runs high for close followers of the Santa Clara basketball program.
The Broncos will conduct 18 practices and two exhibition games prior to its season opener against Utah State on Nov. 17 in the Top of the World Classic. Due to renovation in the Leavey Event Center, Santa Clara will conduct preseason practices in the Pat Malley Fitness and Recreation Center. Both exhibition contests will take place in the gymnasium at Bellarmine College Prep.
After finishing the 1999-2000 season with a 19-12 record and semifinal appearance in the West Coast Conference Tournament, the Broncos are looking forward to getting the new season underway. If there is a theme to this year's squad, it appears to be of a physical nature.
"We are counting on being a team that, by nature, will be very aggressive defensively," said Dick Davey, who enters his ninth season as head coach of the Broncos. "This team is probably the most physical basketball team I have had in my tenure as head coach here at Santa Clara."
Seniors Brian Jones and Jaime Holmes will serve as the team's captains this season. Jones is one of the top returning players in the West Coast Conference and could easily gain All-America attention. Holmes worked hard during the offseason to drop some weight and improve his strength and should be one of the better big players in the WCC.
"Brian Jones is one of the best players in this league and has a legitimate shot at being one of the better players in the nation," said Davey, a three-time WCC coach of the year recipient. "He is a legitimate All-America candidate. Probably his greatest asset is his toughmindedness as a player. He is a very bold player in his approach to the game and he is physically very, very strong.
"I am really proud of the fact that Jamie has worked so hard to get himself into condition. Jaime leads by example. He lost about 20 pounds during the offseason and is at a weight now that is going to allow him to be a much better player in our program. He and Brian are the types of individuals who want to win and are going to support and encourage their teammates. They are both very deserving of being the team captains this year."
As is the custom of the Santa Clara program over the last several years, the Broncos will play one of the more difficult non-conference schedules in the country. Davey's squad will open the season in the Top of the World Classic in Fairbanks, Alaska. Road games at Big Ten Conference opponents Purdue and Iowa will be strong tests for the squad. The home schedule includes the annual Cable Car Classic, featuring George Mason, Fordham and Stanford. The Broncos will open their home schedule against Fresno State on Dec. 13 in the newly-renovated Leavey Event Center.
"We have always taken the approach that we need to play a fairly aggressive schedule," said Davey, who has four NCAA Tournament appearances and four wins over top-25 teams during his tenure at SCU. "The object is to win your league and get the No. 1 seed in the tournament. I think our schedule prepares our team to be able to go into any hostile environment and not be surprised or intimidated by it."
Santa Clara basketball fans will notice a new home for Bronco basketball. Well, sort of... The Leavey Event Center (formerly Toso Pavilion) well debut on Dec. 13 when SCU takes on Fresno State. The building was opened in 1975 with an air-supported, fabric roof and was popularly known as "The Bubble."
On April 4, the bubble was deflated and construction began on a roughly $15 million renovation project. The project is scheduled to be completed in three phases. Fans attending the Dec. 13 contest will notice a new roof, floor, bleachers and seating, scoreboard, sound system, lighting, restrooms, entrances and an impressive two-story glass wall around the entire arena.
Season and individual game tickets are scheduled to go on sale to the general public on Monday, October 16. They can be purchased by calling the athletic ticket office at 408/554-4660 or by going online at www.SantaClaraBroncos.com.