June 12, 2012

Making an Impact in the Post

By: Gabe Taylor '12

Niyi Harrison is tossing all expectations aside. Sure, his eyes haven't diverted from the WCC Championship or the NCAA Tournament. But after last season, now it's all about doing.

"It's hard to pinpoint on just one thing on why we didn't do well," said Harrison, commenting on last season's outcome.

But it wasn't all bad. The losses - although undesired – allowed the team to take a step back and gain a different perspective.

"Of course you want to win, but you learn a lot of stuff when you lose," said Harrison.

With an average 10.7 ppg and 6.3 rpg, Harrison filled the void left by Marc Trasolini's season ending injury (torn ACL), becoming a threat on both ends of the floor. But it was a process to get there.

"With Marc being out, it just threw me into a position where I had to step up and show what I can do. And maybe I wasn't necessarily ready for that, but I was tossed into there and it was sink or swim," said Harrison.

Harrison was one of four post players called upon to ensure offensive and defensive output wasn't lost with Trasolini on the sideline. John McArthur, Robert Garrett and Jordan Akwenuke all took on significant roles.

For the upcoming season, Harrison is focusing on expanding his game away from the basket. Whether it is dribbling, passing around the perimeter, or shooting mid-range jumpers, he is preparing to do, not to expect.

"I'm trying to be a defensive stopper and just set an example for the younger guys by working hard," said Harrison.

When Santa Clara took home the CIT Championship in 2011, Harrison remembers the chemistry being "perfect." With many of the same players returning next year, he is confident they can regain that.

It helps that they all enjoy spending time together outside of practice and games.

"It's a blessing what we have here, where everyone gels together really well; and just a credit to the coaches for recruiting good people," said Harrison.

In six months the 2011-2012 Broncos will return to the court only having lost Phillip Bach. They will likely be expected to make a run at the WCC title with Trasolini-Foster duo suiting up again. But Harrison knows it comes down to performance:

"You can't take for granted how hard winning is."