Santa Clara will host the 45th annual Cable Car Classic Thurs., Dec. 29 and Fri., Dec. 30. The Cable Car Classic features a coast-to-coast field this year with teams from Staten Island, Michigan and Colorado joining the Broncos. The field should provide for some very exciting basketball as co-founder Art Santo Domingo has put together another fun field.
The Cable Car Classic is the longest-running holiday tournament in country with at least one team advancing to the NCAA Tournament 31 of its 44 years thus far. Ten years it has featured multiple teams who would later advance in the post-season. The 1995 Cable Car Classic proved to be one of the strongest fields with all four teams advancing to the 1996 NCAA Tournament in March. Penn State won the Cable Car Classic with Georgia Tech, Santa Clara and Bradley also making the post-season. Georgia Tech won the ACC that year as well. Santa Clara is 51-37 overall and has won 15 titles.
Air Force (6-3) will face Wagner (8-3) at 6 pm on Dec. 29 and Santa Clara (7-4) will host Eastern Michigan (5-7) at 8:15 pm. The winners will play in the championship game at 8:15 pm on Dec. 30 and the losers will play in the consolation game at 6 pm.
Eastern Michigan is working this season under first-year head coach Rob Murphy who spent the last seven years as an assistant at Syracuse. Wagner, who defeated No. 15 Pitt 59-54 on Dec. 23, is headed up by Dan Hurley and the coaching staff features Hurley's brother, former Duke hero Bobby Hurley. Air Force is 6-3 after falling to Gonzaga, 70-60, in Spokane, Wash., last Thursday
Winning its last Cable Car Classic title in 2008, Santa Clara defeated UTEP 89-88 with a thrilling overtime victory over the Miners on Dec. 30, 2008 as All-American John Bryant scored MVP honors. Then-No. 23 Air Force, who advanced to the NCAA Tournament that year, won the Cable Car Classic in 2006 with a 78-48 win over the Broncos. It is the first time Wagner and Eastern Michigan have appeared in the Classic.
In the Bronco history books, Santa Clara is playing MAC member Eastern Michigan for the first time. It has yet to face Northeast Conference member Wagner and it is 1-1 vs. Mountain West member Air Force. It defeated Air Force last season in the Leavey Center in the second round of the CollegeInsider.com post-season tournament. In Santa Clara's 88-75 win over Air Force on March 18, 2010, Kevin Foster broke the school record with nine threes, tying a career-high with 36 points.
The Broncos are playing their last two non-conference games of the year in the 45th annual Cable Car Classic before starting play in the West Coast Conference. It starts out play on the road in the WCC quickly, traveling to Portland first on Jan. 5 and then Gonzaga on Jan. 7. The Broncos return to the Leavey Center to host San Diego in the home league opener on Jan. 12.
Santa Clara is 5-0 at home this season, 2-1 in neutral site games and 0-3 on the road. It is the best start at home for the Broncos since Santa Clara started the 1988-89 season 7-0 on its home court. Santa Clara is 6-0 when shooting better than the opposition from the field and 5-2 when shooting better beyond the three-point line.
After defeating Pacifica and Pacific in mid-December, Santa Clara fell 72-71 at Houston Baptist on Dec. 21 when it missed two free throws with 1.9 seconds left. The Broncos made easy work of the Mathadors on Dec. 13, winning 84-59, but on Dec. 17 the Tigers gave them fits late in the second half and the game was won 78-76 by the Broncos in overtime. Foster led the scoring in both games, hitting a season-high six threes with a season-high 26 points vs. UOP. Evan Roquemore had a career-high 11 assists and 14 points for his second career double-double.
With two starters averaging double figures, Santa Clara had two blow-out wins on its home court (vs. UC Merced and San Jose State) and an 89-58 loss at UC Santa Barbara, an NCAA Tournament team the past two years, prior to traveling to Anaheim. A loss to Oklahoma was sandwiched between wins vs. New Mexico and Villanova in Anaheim and the Broncos have since added the home wins vs. Cal State Northridge on Dec. 3, Pacifica on Dec. 13 and Pacific on Dec. 17.
Foster leads the team with 17.9 ppg and Evan Roquemore scores 14.9 ppg. Roquemore dishes out a team-leading 6.0 apg and Niyi Harrison and Yannick Atanga are the leaders on the boards, pulling down 6.1 and 6.3 rpg, respectively. Foster has scored in double figures every game this season and Roquemore has hit double figures in 10 of the last 11 games dating back to last season. Harrison has had four 7+ rebound games this season. John McArthur and Harrison have both collected two double-doubles this season (points and rebounds) and Roquemore has one (points and assists). Raymond Cowels III, Harrison, McArthur and Roquemore have started all 12 games and Foster has started 11 of 12 this season. Cowels III has 2+ threes in six of the last seven games, including a career-high six threes in the Villanova win.
With the loss of All-WCC forward Marc Trasolini (torn ACL), Santa Clara might be the youngest team in the country with its 11 scholarship players this season totalling eight years of total court time (no seniors, three juniors, three sophomores and five freshmen). While the Broncos start three juniors and two sophomores, the next six players off the bench, including walk-on Jordan Akwenuke, are all freshmen. In addition to leadership, SCU is without its top three rebounders from last season (Trasolini and graduation of Ben Dowdell and Troy Payne).
SCU finished last season 24-14 and won the post-season CIT with All-WCC guard Foster collecting MVP honors. Named to the 2011 pre-season All-WCC team this season for the third time after leading the country in threes (140) and the league in scoring (20.2 ppg) in 2010-11.
See and Hear
The Eastern Michigan game in the Leavey Center will also be broadcast via the Bronco Radio Network on both KDOW 1220 AM and Broncos All-Access at www.SantaClaraBroncos.com with the broadcast beginning at 8 p.m. on KDOW1220. Anthony Passarelli is in his fifth season as the Broncos' play-by-play announcer. Out of the listening area, KDOW is streamed online at www.1220kdow.com.
Bronco fans who attended the men's basketball game with Pacific game on Dec. 17 may have noticed a new and rather large addition to the Leavey Center! Santa Clara has installed a full color 25 foot by 13 ½ foot video board, made by Daktronics, one of the industry leaders. The board will be fully operational as it makes its official debut at the 45th annual Cable Car Classic.
"The addition of the video board is yet another piece of the puzzle in furthering of our broad vision to create an unmatched game-day atmosphere for our sports that play in the Leavey Center (men's basketball, women's basketball and volleyball). Enhancing the game-day atmosphere has been at the top of our priority list, not only to fuel the success of our teams but to create the type of school spirit, passion and excitement that our student-body craves," said Bronco Athletic Director Dan Coonan.
The HD compatible board specifically measures in at 24'11" wide and 13'6" high. It uses 10mm technology, which is the preferred technology for new boards at the collegiate and professional level
It is able to play both video and still images from a variety of feeds during men's basketball, women's basketball and volleyball games in the Leavey Center. Santa Clara will use it for prepared video, live statistics and live in-game video. The center-hung board will continue to be used for still images and live statistics.