Nov. 26, 2001
After winning the last four and seven of eight, Santa Clara doesn't take the annual "Clash of the County" with San Jose State as a yearly victory. Steve Barnes is taking baby steps to get better every year and will make Tuesday's game at Leavey an ugly, grind-it-out affair. Barnes has said he doesn't expect the big payoff in year three with a new collection of players. But that doesn't mean Coach Dick Davey goes along with the idea that SJS is no longer a rival.
"I wouldn't agree with that at all. I think it's a big game every time we take the court to beat anybody. Particularly, now that we're 0-3, you need a victory to get your team going in the right direction. It'll be a tough one for us because we're not performing. We're not as confident or experienced and we are not a tough enough group yet to count on anything happening for us. We're hoping those things will develop for us in these early season games. After this we go on the road and it doesn't get any easier. We're going to have to buckle down and be a little more tougher-minded."
Davey says the team hasn't played well in the 2nd half in any of the first three games. The numbers don't lie: blown 21 point lead against UOP, 3 point game at Cal turns to a 16 point deficit early in the 2nd and a three point spread balloons to a 20 point loss at Washington. During the deciding moments in Seattle, the Broncos missed three straight front ends of one and ones.
"If we were a veteran, seasoned team with kids that had been around it a lot, I'd say its probably not a major concern," says Davey. "With a team that's not quite as veteran, we're going to take our share of lumps on the road, until they figure out how to get tougher. Officiating isn't always going to be how you want it to be and we're not ready yet to fight through those kinds of adversities. The San Jose State game is an important one for us. It is every year. I hope we play well and hope we can win a game."
The one silver lining has been the play of freshman Jordan Legge from Mesa, Ariz. He started the first game of the season because of Justin Holbrook's abdominal injury but now may be hard to get out of the lineup. Saturday, he scored six points on 3-for-4 shooting with seven rebounds in 25 minutes. Last week at Cal it dawned on me that I was seeing the second coming of Kevin Dunne. His demeanor and intelligence remind Davey and I of those guys who played in three NCAA tournaments in four years.
"He reminds me a lot of that group, players from that team. Nash, Dunne, Sedlock, Zurek and those guys were all thinkers on the floor, understood the game, knew how to play it. Maybe some of them didn't have as much ability as others, but they were smart enough to work through things and contribute to the team. Surely, Jordan falls in that category."
There's still a long way to go for Legge and this year's team. They were picked as high as second in the conference for a reason. Look no further than last year's group who returned from Indiana following the worst back-to-back losses in school history to reach the conference title game.
In Tuesday's "Clash of the County", look for game that wasn't what Dr. Naismith had in mind in 1891. No one can predict how teams will shoot, but both are capable of defensive efforts that should keep the score in the 60s. It may not be a classic like the February 21, 1969 contest when Dick Garibaldi's team, featuring Awtrey and the Ogdens, lost in double overtime. However, it will be competitive and hard fought. That's how it goes in a rivalry.