Nov. 17, 2005
By Jason Cohn
The Santa Clara
With fall quarter coming to a close and winter on its way, Santa Clara students can expect three things: cold, rain and basketball.
With the loss of five seniors to graduation, Santa Clara basketball has revamped its lineup with an infusion of new talent and size mixed with a few of the familiar faces from seasons past.
"The loss of Kyle Bailey and Doron Perkins is big from the standpoint that they were both really important players to our program for a long time. I think we feel comfortable with the fact that we have Brandon Rohe back and Brody Angley is a year older and more mature," head coach Dick Davey said, now entering his 14th season as Broncos coach.
After missing the last month of his sophomore year due to a back injury, Rohe was forced to redshirt last season in order to rehabilitate. Rohe was the team's leading scorer as a freshman in the 2002-03 season, while breaking Steve Nash's record for the most three-pointers made as a freshman.
With his back feeling better, Rohe is on the court again with his three-point stroke looking better than ever.
"It's been a lot of fun getting back on the court this year. I feel 100 percent right now and we've got a good team, and hopefully we can get a lot better," Rohe said.
While Davey is excited about having Rohe back on the roster, he is not going to take any chances with his health.
"We might have to give him time off throughout the season so that it's not a daily pounding for him, but he's back on the court so that's obviously an improvement from last year," said Davey. "He's a good shooter and a smart player, so we're hoping he can contribute in a big way this year."
Rohe isn't the only returning player who is expected to make big contributions. Sophomore point guard Brody Angley will be running the offense this season.
"We're going to be counting on Brody to do a lot. He's very smart, very aggressive defensively, he's a good passer and he's athletic," Davey said.
Angley had a break-out performance last season with 31 steals and 81 assists while shooting .393 from beyond the arc. These numbers earned him a spot on the WCC all-freshman team.
Lingering problems such as Rohe's health and whether or not Angley will be able to continue where he left off last year will continue to plague Davey throughout the season, but the bigger question is what the Broncos will be able to expect from their freshmen.
Johnson, a McDonald's All-American nominee in high school, led his team to the Texas Division 1A State Championship while averaging 22 points and 10 rebounds per game.
Bryant, a 6-foot-11, 320-pound center from Pinole Valley, was named one of the top 10 senior prospects in northern California last year and is expected to bring a great deal of strength to the Broncos' frontcourt.
"Big John has the size to dominate down low and Calvin has a sweet jumper from the outside. Obviously, they're freshmen, but they're gonna have to be playing like sophomores and juniors later in the year," said team captain Tristan Parham.
Parham, one of two seniors on the team, will be unable to play for the next three weeks due to a recent surgery on his knee. Although injured, Parham is optimistic about his team's upcoming season.
"Last year, we started strong, beating North Carolina and Stanford, and then we kind of fell off at the end of the season. But if we're playing smart and hard all season, I think we have the potential to win the WCC."
Conceivably the player who is going to be most important for Santa Clara to make a late-season run is senior forward Travis Niesen.
Niesen, who averaged 15 points and 4.5 rebounds last year came up big against North Carolina last season, scoring 26 points in 31 minutes, and exploded again against Stanford with 31 points and 11 rebounds.
He appears to be on track for another great season after leading the team with 21 points in their recent exhibition game against Holy Names.
While Holy Names is not an NCAA team and does not usually compete with teams on the same level as Santa Clara, the Broncos 99-47 blowout is a good omen for Davey and his team.
In his first collegiate game, Bryant dominated down low, putting in 18 points and 14 rebounds, while raising expectations even higher.
Although off to a good start, Bryant will come off the bench to share minutes with the more experienced and conditioned starting center, Sean Denison, who is happy to have some extra size supporting him.
"We play really good as a team. We move the ball, get lots of open shots and we've got a big team now, so hopefully we'll improve our post game and be a big threat," Denison said.
A former player for the Broncos, Scott Lamson '85, said he was impressed by the frontcourt's size and strength after watching exhibition play and an open practice on Saturday.
"They're a lot more athletic than we were (between '81 and '84). One of the key things is that they have strong senior leadership that will give them a big advantage towards the end of the season," Lamson said. He added, "I love coming back here. It's a family and it's fun to come back and be a part of it."
The Santa Clara family will be able to root their team on in the regular-season opener this Saturday at the Leavey Center against CSU Stanislaus at 1 p.m.