WCC Preview with Kevin Foster and Marc Trasolini
By Brandon Rebboah'13
Santa Clara, Calif.-This weekend the Santa Clara men's basketball team will open up WCC play at home against the University of San Francisco with a 8pm tip-off on Sat. Jan 8. Going into league play the Broncos are 9-7.
Last year at this time, the 9-9 Broncos had lost their star sharpshooter, Kevin Foster, to a season-ending injury and lost 4 of 5 going into league play. With a healthy Foster and the added experience of big-man Marc Trasolini the Broncos are looking to make a push in the WCC. Foster has scored 900 career points and Trasolini has scored 840 career points. Both are gunning for 1,000 career points this season with Foster needing 100 and Trasolini needing 160. With Foster averaging 18.4 ppg and Trasolini averaging 12.5 ppg, it is very realistic. They would be the first duo to both hit 1,000 career points in the same season since then-seniors Jens Gordon and Mitch Burley did it in 1988-89.
"It feels great to be back. We have a winning record right now and that's all that you can ask for. I just need to keep improving as a player and we need to keep improving as a team. I'm very happy with where we are right now," said Foster.
In addition to getting back a healthy Foster, Trasolini has continued to work on his game. The Canada native spent this summer playing for the Canadian Developmental Men's National Team and continues to have an outstanding career on the Mission Campus. With 16 blocks already this season, Trasolini has moved into No. 4 all-time with 103 career blocks.
"I think I've continued to work on my game, both inside and outside. Against a smaller team I'd like to go more inside and against some of the bigger teams I can try to extend the defense with my outside game," added Trasolini.
Having Foster back in the lineup has the offense much improved this year. So far this year, the Broncos have put up some big offensive numbers in early wins this year including scoring 60 points in the second half in their Dec. 22 game against CSU-Northridge, including a team high 22 from Foster.
"Kevin is obviously a huge asset for us both offensively and defensively," said Trasolini. "He shoots the ball, he distributes the ball and finds the open man. It's huge having that for us. Last year we really missed him and our record reflected that. It's really big having him going into league"
After a disappointing start to last year, Foster thinks the Broncos early season success can be attributed to attention to practice habits.
"We are paying more attention to detail in practice," said the Texas native. "We are playing hard in practice and if you play hard in practice, then the game is going to be that much easier. Coach Keating has always told us 'you play like you practice' and that is helping us out so far."
Not to be overlooked is the play of outstanding freshman Evan Roquemore. Roquemore is averaging 11.3ppg and 3.3apg, while serving as the team's starting point guard. Roquemore doesn't seem to be experiencing any 'freshman jitters' as he continues to be a standout thus far for the Broncos. Both Foster and Trasolini acknowledged their young teammate's ability to contribute right away.
"He's a confident young man and he knows he can play with the best, and that's most important," praised Foster.
"I've been really surprised and really impressed with how he's played. He's stepped into a big role for us. He's developed into a really solid player for us," added Trasolini.
As the team prepares for their league opener, the Broncos continue to get production from many different members of the squad. In addition to Roquemore, Foster and Trasolini praised the play of their entire team and highlighted the importance of having players who can come in and spell the starters. Trasolini and Foster may be happy with their winning record going into league, but they are still hungry to improve as players and as a team. Foster praised Raymond Cowels III for all the extra time he spends shooting.
"It gives us confidence and allows us to play hard. You can ask the coaches for a sub and you know that the team isn't going to miss a beat because the guys on the bench are ready to come in," said Foster.
"It's huge because it's a team game. We are going to continue to need guys to step up. If other guys are stepping up that's a huge asset for us because that means we're not going to take steps backward as a team," said Trasolini.
Foster admired the way freshman big-man John McArthur has elevated his play from the start of the season.
"John was a little sped up at the beginning of the season, but he's been working hard with Coach Ware. He's starting to put it together and he will be a productive player for us," said Foster.
Trasolini has been impressed with the way all of the big-men have matured this season, noting that the rotation of post players has grown from two last season, to five this season. In specific he was impressed with the early season play of sophomore Chris Cunnigham.
"The biggest thing with Chris is that he's really tough. He plays full speed all the time and he's a big presence. We need a big guy like that who can get rebounds and scrap it out down low," praised Trasolini about his fellow big-man.
While the both players are happy with the winning record going into league, both are hungry to continue the early success by playing at a competitive level in the WCC. The Broncos early season success will give them confidence going into league play, but vow to continue to work on improving defensively and to become a better rebounding team.
"Defense and rebounding are what wins games at the end of the day. Offense is always good, but you need stops at the end of the game," Foster said.
"We are really confident with what we can do. We hope we are poised to play well," added Trasolini.
USF (6-9) is the first step of the journey for the improved Bronco team. With return of Foster, the improved play of Trasolini and the addition of Roquemore, and a host of others, the Broncos are hoping to continue their winning season. After Saturday's game, the Broncos will continue WCC action on the road against San Diego and Saint Mary's before returning to play Gonzaga on Jan. 20.
"I'm looking forward to going out and getting a lot of wins because we have the ability to do that, if we play how we're capable of playing, the sky is the limit is the limit for us," said Foster.