November 14, 2003

Men's Basketball Shoots for Success

Nov. 13, 2003

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    Grant Hughes
    The Santa Clara

    Santa Clara men's basketball kicks into gear for the 2003-04 season Monday, with an exhibition game against San Francisco's Olympic Club. This will be the first chance to see the team that hopes to bounce back from last year's injury-plagued 13-15 campaign.

    "With some key players returning from injuries, and our younger guys having another year under their belts, this will be a good test against a very good, smart, experienced Olympic Club team," said Head Coach Dick Davey.

    The Olympic Club, comprised of former Division I and II college players, defeated the Broncos last season 65-64 in the Leavey Center. With former Broncos David Emslie ('02) and John Woolery ('94), the Olympic Club may look familiar to some fans. The Olympic Club has relied most heavily on the sharpshooting of Stanford alumnus, Chris Weems.

    "Weems is definitely a guy who can fill it up and hurt you if you don't take care to limit his touches," said Davey.

    The Broncos hope to showcase their own high-scoring threat from the guard position with the return of redshirt junior Kyle Bailey.

    "He's a guy we're really looking forward to having back," said sophomore guard Brandon Rohe. "He's an all-conference level player, and is a great leader."

    Bailey, who missed all but six of the Broncos' games in 2002-2003 because of injuries, looks to be the team's most explosive offensive threat.

    Helping out in the scoring department will be Rohe and junior swingman Ethan Rohde. Rohe played a significant role last season as a true freshman, breaking former Bronco Steve Nash's freshman record for three-point field goals made.

    "I'd like to develop into an all-conference player, and try to get this team to the conference championship," said Rohe.

    Rohde, who earned a scholarship last year after initially making the team as a freshman walk-on, looks to add to last season's 9.3 points per game.

    Junior transfer Doron Perkins could potentially make huge contributions in the scoring and rebounding departments.

    "He's going to come in and start right away," said first-year Assistant Coach Lloyd Pierce. "He's definitely the most athletic guy we've got. He'll be asked to take on some tough assignments on defense and even distribute the ball when Kyle's on the bench."

    Having averaged 25 points, 9.9 rebounds and 6.5 assists per game at Southwestern Oregon Community College in Coos Bay, Ore., Perkins stands to add some serious firepower.

    "Doron is an excellent scorer, and a very good rebounder from the guard position," said Davey. "He can definitely be a leader on offense. A lot depends on how quickly he picks up our schemes and little differences we have here, versus the way his other team may have played."

    Senior captain Jim Howell praised Perkins' quick absorption of the schemes Davey discussed.

    "It's not often you see a guy transfer and pick up our sets as quickly as Doron has," said Howell. "He's not just an athlete, he really does know basketball, he gets it."

    With the depth of the Santa Clara team residing in the backcourt, fans can expect a slight change in style this year. The Broncos will look to go small more often than last year, with a point guard, two wings and two big men down low on offense. This lineup should allow for a more uptempo attack, wherein the Broncos can get shots up a little more quickly, and hopefully get out on the break and score in transition.

    "We're looking to score at a faster pace this season, and ideally get our points per game up from 68 last year to around 74," said Davey. "But that doesn't mean we're not going to hit the boards. We've got to have balance, which means the guards are going to have to rebound, and more responsibility will be placed on our inside guys."

    6-foot-8-inchers junior Jordan Legge and Howell will take on more responsibilities in the paint. Howell, who Davey has described as the "heart and soul of the team," will bring toughness and leadership, along with some heavy work on the glass.

    "Our big point this year is going to be rebounding, and I think that once we get the kinks out, our transition game is really going to benefit, too," said Howell.

    Legge, who had knee surgery over a year ago, is a skilled big man who will block shots and provide solid scoring and rebounding numbers.

    Monday will give fans their first taste of a squad that has been pegged as the "mystery team" in the WCC by the conference's website. Success will hinge on returns from injury and the emergence of a potential star in Perkins.

    If last year's injuries are a thing of the past, the Leavey Center could be treated to a very surprising Bronco team this season.