January 23, 2002

Run-N-Gun Bronco Basketball

Jan. 23, 2002

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These are not your father's Broncos.

No more walk it up, run the flex, grind defensively and win at the wire. After 4 conference games, only Pepperdine and Gonzaga have scored more points, and only by approaching 100 in their most recent outings. Santa Clara is averaging 81 points in league compared with a team that struggled to reach 60 before WCC play. On Saturday, they scored 60 in the first half against San Diego.

"The number one thing from our perspective is that we're shooting the ball a little bit better," says 10th year head coach Dick Davey. "When you're shooting it better, you'll have more points because you'll have somewhat near the same number of possessions each game.

"Part of it might be the opponent. Portland and Gonzaga wanted to run the ball, and even San Diego moved the ball up and down the court a little faster than some teams do, so you get a few more possessions that way."

No team in the WCC has made more three-pointers through the first four league games and SCU is second only to Gonzaga. The 41.9 percent from beyond the three-point arc is better than the team shot from the floor prior to league play. At that time, the team was on pace to have its worst shooting season since 1964. It's not just guys like Ross and Bailey who are doing damage from beyond the arc. The Holbrooks, Rhodes and Vakas are making it impossible for teams to zone unlike earlier in the year when the Broncos were dared to shoot from distance.

Says Davey: "We thought that was the case at the beginning of the year, but got off to such a bad start, the confidence level was so low. Our schedule and how we were playing was so bad that the combination of everything didn't help us."

Only Bailey and Ross have averaged more than double figures. Is it an issue to not have a third primary scorer?

"We'd like to have five guys that can score," says the coach. "There are times when we put in a specific lineup with Holbrook, Ross, Bailey, Ethan Rhode in the game. Those guys can make some jumpers. Jordan (Legge) is not bad down inside. He can make some shots even though he doesn't take many. You also have to consider your defensive end of the court."

Are we ushering in a new era, LMU circa 1990, with the Broncos galloping at break-neck speed?

"By no stretch of the imagination do I think we're a team that's going to continue to stay around that number. I just hope the opponents' number goes down, too. Our defense has been our staple over the years. If we can get better in that area and keep the numbers down a little bit, it gives us a chance to win without scoring so many points."

Maybe so. But assistant Sam Scuilli told me after the San Diego game he may change his recruiting pitch.

"If you want wide open, run-and-gun, end-to-end basketball, come to Santa Clara."