Dec. 5, 2006
Fans of any team seem to latch on to certain guys. At Santa Clara, there's the everyman appeal of Joey Kaempf, who made the team through a student try out and had the game of his life in the pressure of the conference tournament. Brody Angley is the leader and we relate to him because he looks like the rest of us, with the exception of calves I can only dream of. Over the previous four years, Travis Niesen provided the spark from a pure energy standpoint that was infectious with countless floor burns. Fans that haven't seen him yet will have a new ball of fire of who sparks the squad with his energy and persistence. Danny Pariseau will only be around for one year; playing like it's last on the face of the earth.
"It was probably the three years at Eastern where I wasn't allowed to shoot where we had to get the ball inside," says Pariseau of his primal screams after making a play. "A lot of my enthusiasm comes from being allowed to read the defense and just play."
Pariseau was just a few assists away from cracking Eastern Washington's top 10 after 3 years in Cheney. But a coaching change resulted in a slow, methodic style of play that took the joy of playing from Pariseau.
"There was no room to create and that didn't fit for me. I didn't want to have one of those senior years where I was just going to go through the motions."
Because both his brothers lived in California, Pariseau wanted to finish his college career near family members and searched out his options. He was turned on to Santa Clara by former Gonzaga head coach Dan Fitzgerald, who is one of Dick Davey's best friends.
"I felt like I still could improve my game," explains Parieau. "He asked me what I was looking for in a coach. And I said I wanted to play for an experienced guy that was honest and didn't get rattled. That had been my experience before where coaches would lose tough games and get rattled. Playing for Coach Davey, he always knows what to do and never gets rattled."
Pariseau wanted discipline and honesty along with the fundamentals. He wasn't searching for someone to coach through a system but develop players with a preconceived notion.
"Our coaches have shown they can adapt by playing two little midgets out there."
Brought in to back up Brody Angley, Pariseau has been more than what Santa Clara bargained for. Both Angley and Pariseau have been starting with Pariseau playing the 2 at about 5-10, generously listed at 160 pounds dripping wet.
"It was always my hope we could play at the same time. Anytime we were in open gym or in practice playing together, we made each other play harder. A lot of coaches have visions about how tall the 2-guard has to be but these guys have shown a lot of faith in having both of us out there."
It hasn't taken long to make Davey a believer in his walk-on senior.
"Danny is a tough-minded little guy. I told our players at halftime (Alabama State) that some of you have to step up like he does. The pressure doesn't bother him and he steps up to make shots. We need to have more guys do that."
Pariseau showed what kind of find the program had against Utah, scoring a career-best 15 points with 8 assists and 0 turnovers. However, at his size, defense might be an issue playing the off-guard. That's something Pariseau is trying to put to rest.
"I think that might be the coaches' main concern in playing Brody and me together. Teams like Hawaii that have big off-guards make it hard but I have to go out there and show them that the height doesn't matter but quickness does."
Pariseau and transfer big man Josh Higgins have played huge roles in the rotation, making a run at the upper echelon of the conference more than just a pipe dream. The goal is to reach the NCAA tournament and Pariseau has been there. It's an experience he hopes for again for his teammates that have never been there.
"Yeah, I'd like to see these kids experience this, too. It was the most fun I've ever had playing the game. It's neat to see guys who get to the league and know I played against them."
It's his final chance as a collegiate to reach the tournament although he has hopes of playing professionally somewhere after this season is over. He was willing to pay for a year at Santa Clara as a redshirt and another this year. Any SCU student knows that's a huge financial commitment for just one year of basketball. He's determined to make the most of it and so is his coach.
"He really is aware of what's going on and is a student of the game," says Davey. "We only get him for one year but we're going to enjoy that year."