January 14, 2009

Basketball travels to Gonzaga, Portland this week

Jan. 14, 2009

Santa Clara travels to Gonzaga and Portland this week for a 6 pm game at Gonzaga on Thurs., Jan. 15 and then a 7 pm contest with Portland on Sat., Jan. 17. The Gonzaga game will be televised in Washington only (KHQ, Spokane/KIRO, Seattle)and not locally in the Bay Area. The game will also be shown on a tape-delay basis on FSN-NW Thursday at 10 pm and Friday at 12:30 pm. Greg Heister and Craig Ehlo will call the Gonzaga game. The Portland game will be shown on COMCAST in the Bay Area and be called by Tod Pickett and Bill Krueger.

Santa Clara had not won at Gonzaga since Feb. 24, 1996 prior to its 84-73 win on Feb. 12, 2007. Gonzaga leads the series record 39-30 and leads the series in Spokane 22-6. The two's first meeting on Jan., 2, 1947 resulted in a 44-32 win for the Broncos and its last game was a 52-48 win by Gonzaga in the second round of the WCC Tournament on March 9, 2008.

The Broncos, 7-11 and 0-2 in the WCC, fell 63-62 at Saint Mary's on Jan. 9 behind Kevin Foster's career-high 31 points and then to San Diego on Jan. 11, 55-50. Only Troy Alexander is still sidelined (sprained left shoulder), but is listed as day to day and could play at Gonzaga.

Santa Clara played four games in seven days two weeks ago. The Broncos won the 42nd annual Cable Car Classic with an 83-80 win over Belmont on Dec. 29 and then an 89-88 win vs. UTEP in overtime on Dec. 30. John Bryant was named the MVP of the Classic with Kevin Foster and Ben Dowdell being named to the All-Tournament team. The next day they traveled East; and lost at Harvard on Jan. 2, 73-68; and then lost 58-54 at New Hampshire on Jan. 4.

Gonzaga, 10-4 and 1-0 in the WCC, defeated Portland 67-50 on Jan. 10 behind the 14 points each of Josh Heyvelt and Matt Bouldin. Bouldin tied a career-high with 26 points to help Gonzaga upset then-No. 15 Tennessee 89-79 in overtime on Jan. 7, snapping the Volunteers' 37-game home winning streak which was third in the country.

The two teams have one common opponent this season: the Arizona Wildcats. Both WCC teams lost to Arizona: Santa Clara lost to the Wildcats in Athens, Ga., on Nov. 25, 69-66 and Gonzaga lost to Arizona 69-64 in Phoenix.

Listen up

The SCU-Gonzaga game will be broadcast at 8 pm via the Bronco Radio Network on both KDOW 1220 AM and Broncos All-Access on the web at www.SantaClaraBroncos.com. The pregame show will begin at 7:30 pm. Anthony Passarelli is in his second season as the Santa Clara men's basketball play-by-play announcer after six seasons of handling those duties for SCU women's basketball.

In addition, head coach Kerry Keating can be heard on KDOW 1220 AM on Sunday evenings from 8:30 - 9 pm in his radio spotlight on The Sports Ramble. The Sports Ramble, hosted by Chetan Chaudhari, runs on KDOW 1220 AM from 8 - 10 pm on Sunday evenings. If you are out of the listening area Bronco fans, KDOW is streamed online live at www.1220kdow.com so go to their website and listen live!

Gonzaga

Gonzaga, 10-4 and 1-0 in the WCC, begins the WCC season with three straight home games, including the Santa Clara game sandwiched in the middle. Gonzaga starts the WCC slate at home vs. Portland, Santa Clara and then San Francisco. On the flip side, Santa Clara opens the schedule with three of the first four on the road, including games vs. the league's three 2008 NCAA Tournament teams.

With last Wednesday's game at Tennessee, Gonzaga has traveled 19,115 miles since Nov. 26. The Bulldogs have been in Florida, Indiana, Arizona, Utah and Tennessee in that stretch, and played in-state games in Pullman and Seattle. Gonzaga opened the season 10th in AP and 11th in USA Today/ESPN and had risen to as high as fourth in both polls this season, but is not currently ranked.

Gonzaga is led by Mark Few, who is 246-64 in his 11th year with the Gonzaga. The team is led by four players scoring in double figures: Josh Heytvelt (14.9 ppg), Matt Bouldin (12.5 ppg), Austin Daye (12.4 ppg) and Steven Gray (10.9 ppg). Heytvelt (6.6 rpg) and Daye (6.5 rpg) are the top two rebounders and Jeremy Pargo leads the team with 6.4 apg.

Gonzaga won seven straight to start the season, but then it lost three times before righting the ship and winning the last two. The ledger includes an overtime win at Tennessee (89-79) and an overtime loss vs. UCONN (88-83).

Leader of this Herd

Bronco senior John Bryant is averaging a double-double this year and leads the team in points (17.4), rebounds (12.1), blocks (2.7) and shooting percentage (58.6%). He is ranked the No. 7 center nationally by Rivals.com and has had twice collected 20+ points and 20+ rebounds in games this season (at San Jose State and vs. Stanford). He scored a season-high 33 points vs. UTEP and collected a career-high 22 rebounds vs. Stanford. The 22 rebounds by Bryant tied a Leavey Center record Kurt Rambis held for 31 years when he grabbed that same number vs. Saint Mary's on Feb. 5, 1977.

Two freshmen continue to hover around double-figures: Kevin Foster is averaging 13.2 ppg and James Rahon puts in 9.2 ppg off the bench. Foster is shooting a team-leading 40% from the three-point line and is also the team's leading free-throw shooter at 85% (28 of 33).

Santa Clara hit a season-high 89 points vs. UTEP; and is scoring 63.9 ppg to the opponents 62.8. They are shooting better than 46% from the field and almost 35% from the three-point line. The Broncos are out-rebounding their opponents by 4.5 rpg, but turning the ball over 3.3 more times than their opponents. In fact, in the latest NCAA stats (Jan. 11), Santa Clara is ranked No. 307 in the nation in turnover margin at -3-3.

Santa Clara had just 10 turnovers vs. Sacramento State, vs. Notre Dame de Namur and at Pacific, its lowest totals since the Broncos turned the ball over nine times vs. Saint Mary's on March 4, 2007.

Bryant is averaging a double-double this year with 11 double-doubles recorded this year (vs. CSU East Bay, vs. UAB, at Georgia, at Montana, at San Jose State, vs. Sacramento State, at UNLV, vs. Stanford, vs. UTEP, at Harvard and vs. San Diego). Bryant has 35 double-doubles in his career. He notched 15 double-doubles last season, five double-doubles in 2006-07 and had four double-doubles as a freshman during the 2005-06 season.

Bench?

Santa Clara's five starters were the Broncos' only scorers in the game vs. San Diego. The last time that happened? Santa Clara defeated San Francisco, 51-50, on March 8, 2008 in the WCC Tournament to advance to the second round. In that game Santa Clara only had four starters score, while 10 players saw time.

Big-Timing Babies

'24' is a popular number of points to score with the freshmen crew this year. Kevin Foster hit a career-best 24 vs. Belmont on Dec. 29, scoring on 8 of 17 shots (3 of 11 from three point land), collecting on 5 of 5 at the free throw line. Three games later, Marc Trasolini scored a career-best 24 points at New Hampshire, knocking down 7 of 8 shots and hitting a career-best 10 of 12 from the charity stripe. It was Trasolini's first double-double of the year.

Foster turned it up a notch at Saint Mary's and scored 31 points, a career best. The last Bronco freshman to score at least 25 points: senior Calvin Johnson scored 25 vs. Cal Poly on Dec. 10, 2005 during his freshman campaign. He hit 9 of 14 shots in that game, including six three-pointers. Foster has scored 20+ points three of the last six games.

The freshmen class has also started a number of games this year. Foster has started 13 games, Troy Alexander seven, Trasolini five and James Rahon four. See page six for what could be a shattering of the freshman records this season.

Only ONE Bryant!

John Bryant is the first player in school history to collect 1300+ career points, 900+ rebounds and 200+ blocks in the school's 102 years of basketball. He needs 15 points to hit the 1,400 career-point mark, respectively and will pass Nick Vanos at 1,399 at No. 11 when he does so.

Bryant and the late Vanos are the only two Broncos to score at least 1300 points, collect 850+ rebounds and block more than 150 shots in their careers. Bryant has 1,385 career points (No. 13), 903 rebounds (No. 3) and 210 career blocks (No. 1). Bryant is working to become the first Bronco since Kurt Rambis to collect 1,000+ rebounds and just the third in school history. Dennis Awtrey holds the school record with 1,135 rebounds (1967-70) and Rambis is second with 1,037 rebounds (1976-80).

During his career from 1981-85, Vanos scored 1,399 points (No. 11), collected 876 rebounds (now No. 4) and blocked 159 shots (No. 2). Vanos was first-team All-WCC in 1984 and '85.

Not so much

Eight of Santa Clara's nine losses on the road this season were by a combined 32 points, averaging two more scores by the opposition. Four schools played in the post-season last year with Arizona, Georgia and Saint Mary's playing in the NCAA Tournament and UAB advancing to the NIT.

The Broncos lost by one at Saint Mary's (63-62); three vs. UAB (64-61) and vs, Arizona (69-66); by four vs. Florida Atlantic (65-61) and at New Hampshire (58-54); by five at Harvard (73-68); and by six at Georgia (64-48) and at Pacific (63-57). Their two wins on the road were by three points each: a 71-68 win at Montana and then a 59-56 win at San Jose State. The Broncos are 4-9 in games decided by six points or less.

Santa Clara gave up 78 points in its 78-66 loss at UNLV on Dec. 17. The Runnin' Rebels scored a season-high 42 points in the first half, but were out-scored by the Broncos 38-36 in the second half.

NCAA Lists

In NCAA statistics released on Jan. 11, Santa Clara is ranked No. 32 nationally in blocked shots. John Bryant is ranked nationally by the NCAA in three categories: No. 4 in RPG, No. 15 in BPG and No. 28 in field goal percentage.

Tough

Playing 12 2008 post-season teams, the schedule includes 11 vs. NCAA Tournament teams. Santa Clara will host five home games vs. 2008 NCAA Tournament participants: Stanford (L, 77-69), Belmont (W, 83-80), San Diego (L, 55-50), St. Mary's (Feb. 7) and Gonzaga (Feb. 26).

SCU will be on the road to play six other 2008 NCAA Tourney participants: at Georgia (Nov. 24, L, 54-48), vs. Arizona (Nov. 25, L, 69-66), at UNLV (Dec. 17, L, 78-66), at Saint Mary's (Jan. 9, L, 63-62), at Gonzaga (Jan. 15) and at San Diego (Feb. 5). UAB (Nov. 17, L 64-61) advanced to the second round of the NIT last season.

Last OT?, 2nd to last OT?

Santa Clara defeated UTEP 89-88 to win the Cable Car Classic. It is the second straight year Santa Clara has played an overtime game in the Cable Car Classic, but it was the first OT final of the Classic's 42-year history. Santa Clara beat Denver in overtime on Dec. 28 in the Cable Car Classic, 74-65.

Santa Clara played a double-overtime contest on Feb. 2, 2008 vs. Gonzaga, falling 87-82. The last time Santa Clara played a double overtime game was Dec. 22, 2003 against UMBC, winning 65-63.

His shadow

Freshman Kevin Foster is the team's second-leading scorer this season, averaging 13.2 ppg, hitting 45% from the field. Foster has hit double figures 11 times this season with a career-high 31 points at Saint Mary's. He also pulls down 2.1 rpg and dishes out 2.1 apg.

His brother Rodney is the senior point guard at Rice University (Dallas, Texas) and he is working hard this season. Rodney is the team's leading scorer with 10.7 ppg, shooting better than 37% and gathers 3.1 rpg. He has baby brother on the assists as he dishes out 4.4 apg for the Owls, who are 5-10 this year.

The two would be able to play a tight game of H-O-R-S-E. Kevin is shooting a team-leading 84.8% (28 of 33) from the free throw line, while Rodney leads his team at 85.5% (47-55) from the charity stripe.

"My senior year my team had the same record as his senior year in high school. Now that I am out here I am working to form my own identity and becoming my own person. But my brother has a pretty good legacy in Texas so there is nothing wrong with that," said little brother Kevin who says they talk almost every day.

Big John Henry

Already the school record holder in blocks (210), John Bryant is inching closer to Dennis Awtrey's school record of 1,135 rebounds. At No. 3 on the career list, Bryant has 903 career rebounds and is 97 away from becoming only the third player in school history to grab 1,000+ boards.

Bryant is No. 13 in career points at 1,385. He needs to score 351 points to pass career school-record holder Kurt Rambis who scored 1,736 point during his Bronco career.

Bryant was named to the 2008 pre-season COLLEGEHOOPS.NET Mid-Major All-America second team. Bryant led the West Coast Conference in rebounds and blocks and was second in scoring as a junior; and was named to the preseason All-WCC team after picking up first team honors last year.

Bryant was named the WCC Player of the Week after averaging more than 17 ppg, 18 rpg and 4.5 bpg in Santa Clara's two wins (Dec. 8). Bryant shared the award with Saint Mary's Patty Mills. It was the first Player of the Week for Bryant in his career after he was named WCC Player of the Month last November.

In the Dec. 3 win at SJSU (59-56) Bryant pulled down 21 rebounds and scored 20 points with 3 blocks. The 20-20 was the first for a Bronco since Ron Reis scored 2o points with 20 rebounds vs. UMASS on Nov. 29, 1991 (64-85 loss). In the Dec. 6 win vs. Sac State (51-32) Bryant grabbed 15 rebounds, adding 14 points with a season-high six blocks.