February 17, 2010

Men Host USF in Home Season Finale Saturday

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Santa Clara hosts San Francisco on Sat., Feb. 20 at 7 pm as the season's home finale. The game, televised on COMCAST, will be called by Scott Reiss and Eric Musselmann.

Santa Clara is 11-17, including 3-8 in the WCC. Santa Clara defeated Pepperdine 62-54 on Feb. 13 and have won two of its last three WCC games. USF is 11-15 and 6-5 in the WCC. They have won four of their last five WCC games, including two in overtime (Gonzaga and USD). They defeated LMU 75-66 in their last outing.

Santa Clara has won eight of the last nine games against the Dons, dating back to Feb., 2006. Santa Clara won 66-65 on Jan. 23, 2010 behind the career-high 26 points of Marc Trasolini. Niyi Harrison chipped in 11 points and a career-high four blocks, including one late in the game vs. WCC Player of the Year candidate Dior Lowhorn.

The two teams split last season with each team winning on their home floors. Prior to last year, the Broncos swept the last two season series in 2006-07 and 2007-08. The Broncos have knocked San Francisco out of the West Coast Conference Tournament four times in the 21st century: 2000, '04, '05 and '08. The last WCC Tournament meeting with the Dons: Santa Clara won 51-50 on March 8, 2008 after two John Bryant free throws with three seconds left helped the Broncos advance to the WCC semi-finals.

SCU leads the all-time series 108-96 and the Broncos lead the series 53-64 in Santa Clara. Santa Clara has only played Saint Mary's more time than the Dons and sport a 131-76 record vs. the Gaels. Listen Here

The USF game will be broadcast via the Bronco Radio Network on both KDOW 1220 AM and Broncos All-Access on the web at www.SantaClaraBroncos.com with the pre-game beginning at 6:45 pm. Anthony Passarelli is in his third season as the Broncos' play-by-play announcer.

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, hosted by Chetan Chaudhari. If you are out of the listening area, KDOW is streamed online live at www.1220kdow.com.

Youth

All season long the Santa Clara youth has been discussed with the Broncos featuring the seventh-youngest team in the country (statsheet.com). Of the nine active players on scholarship this year, Santa Clara has zero seniors, three juniors, two sophomores and four freshmen.

It is only fourth time in 61 years (starting line-ups were kept beginning in 1949-50) that Santa Clara does not have a senior starter. Looking for the last time wasn't a senior starter: it was Steve Nash's junior year (1994-95). Nash, a two-time WCC Player of the Year, has gone on to win two NBA MVP awards. He played in his seventh NBA All-Star game on Feb. 14 as a starter. He also won the 2010 NBA Skills competition for the second time in his career. On Feb. 12, he became the first NBA player to ever light the Olympic Flame at the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympic Games.

Using the same Bronco line-up eight of the last nine games, if counting seniors as a four, juniors as a three, etc. -- with the current starters, it's the second-youngest starting line-up Santa Clara has had in 33 years. That line-up in 1976-77 included a freshman named Kurt Rambis, who went on to be the WCC Player of the Year and a multi-time NBA champion with the Lakers. He is currently the head coach of the Minnesota Timberwolves. It is the fourth time in 33 years the starting line-up has scored a 12 or younger. The current Bronco line-up has includes Michael Santos (3), Ben Dowdell (3), Troy Payne (3), Marc Trasolini (2) and Robert Smith (1).

Bronco Leaders

SCU has two active players averaging double figures: Marc Trasolini (14.0 ppg) and Robert Smith (12.8 ppg). Kevin Foster averaged 19.8 ppg in his first six games, but he is out for the season with a broken foot. In league play, Smith leads the team with 14.6 ppg and Trasolini has 13.5 ppg. Smith has scored in double figures 21 of the last 24 games and Trasolini has hit double figures 22 times this season, including three double-doubles (four career double-doubles).

Smith leads the team with 3.1 apg, including 3.2 apg in WCC play. He tied his career-high with six assists at LMU. Trasolini has 1.7 bpg; and swatted a career-high five blocks vs. No. 8 Gonzaga. Trasolini is averaging a team-leading 1.5 bpg in league play.

Trasolini averages a team-leading 6.4 rpg and Troy Payne is second with 6.0 rpg. Payne has 7+ rebounds in 14 games this season, including a career-high vs. Menlo, 10 vs. LMU, nine at Pepperdine and vs. New Hampshire and Fresno State. vs. Dons and Zags

Marc Trasolini had two straight career nights in WCC play on Jan. 23 at USF and then vs. No. 8 Gonzaga on Jan. 28. At USF on Jan. 23, he scored a career-high 26 points after going a career-high 10 of 15 from the field, hitting a three pointer and all five free throw attempts. A few nights later vs. No. 8 Gonzaga, Trasolini was a career-high 4 of 6 from beyond the arc. He also picked up a career-high five blocks.

Trasolini's success vs. the Dons shouldn't come as a surprise. Last season he was 11 of 12 in two games vs. USF. He also hit 7 of 10 free throw attempts and grabbed 12 rebounds. All told in three games vs. USF, Trasolini is averaging 17 ppg and is shooting almost 78 percent. He also averages 4.7 rpg and 1.7 bpg.

Trasolini has 13 games with 15+ points this season. Trasolini has scored 20+ five times this season. He has scored 20+ six times in his two-year career. Trasolini's previous career-best was 24 points at New Hampshire on Jan. 4, 2009.

He hit a career-high three three's at both Houston Baptist and Rice in December; and then vs. Gonzaga he was a career-best 4 of 6 from beyond the arc. He is 17 of 46 from three-point land after not attempting a single three his freshman campaign. Earlier this season, Bronco head coach Kerry Keating said he would like to see Trasolini shoot 10 three pointers a game because he has that much confidence in his shooting.

Trasolini has hit 114 of 146 free throws this season, including hitting 55 of 69 free throws in the last 13 games (79.7 percent). More than 29 percent of Trasolini's points this year come from the charity stripe with Trasolini scoring a team-high 391 points this year. Last year 21 percent of his points came from free throws (43 of 64 made (67%); 201 points total scored).

Free Chances

As of Feb. 17, Santa Clara is No. 23 in the country in free throws made and No. 17 nationally in free throws attempted, according to statsheet.com. Santa Clara is 458 of 667 from the line this season, knocking down almost 69 percent of its attempts. It is scoring better than 25 percent of its points from the free throw line this year. To hit the top 10 single season chart, Santa Clara would need at least 538 made (1980-81) and 770 attempts (2000-01).

Last season Santa Clara hit 434 of 613 free throws, making 71 percent of those, but free throws only accounted for 20 percent of the team's total points.

Shot Blockers

Marc Trasolini is working to follow in the footsteps of career blocks leader John Bryant. Trasolini needs three blocks to pass what Bryant put up his sophomore year (49, 2006-07) so it's conceivable he could go after Bryant's career record if Trasolini stays on an improving pace his junior and senior years. Bryant's career record is 246 over his four years.

The school record for blocks in a season was set by Bryant last season when he collected 84 swats. Trasolini tied John Bryant's freshman record with 37 blocks last season so has already topped his freshman total with at least four games left. Trasolini's 85 career blocks put him at No. 5 and he trails Kurt Rambis (93, 1976-80) by eight blocks.

Niyi Harrison is quietly blocking shots this season as well. He has 19 on the season which is currently tied for No. 5 on the all-time freshman list with Sean Denison's 19 in 2003-04.

'The Traz Tid-Bits!'

Because the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics can't come to Santa Clara, Marc Trasolini, a Vancouver native, is bringing them to the Broncos! Every day or so during the Winter Olympics, Trasolini is posting an insider's look at the Winter Games on video. He is also answering questions from the fans. He was featured on NBC Bay Area News at 6 on Tues., Feb. 16 and awarded a 'gold medal' for his performance thus far.

If you have questions about the Winter Olympics or Trasolini, email them to Trasolini at scuathleticbroncos@yahoo.com and Trasolini will try to answer them daily!

Starters

The Broncos used their 14th starting line-up vs. Pepperdine for the eighth time in nine games. They have had 10 different players start in a game this season. See chart to above.

The Broncos have had 13 different players have seen action this season. Six of the 10 players have started at least 10 games overall. The only player who has started in all 28 games this season is Troy Payne. SCU has 13 players who have appeared in a game this season, but only six players have played in all 28 games. They are: Trasolini, Smith, Harrison, Cowels, Payne and Santos.

On Track

Kerry Keating and his freshmen have literally re-written the Bronco record books the last three years as Keating and his staff's recruiting efforts have more than paid off in building the Bronco base. About one-third of the Bronco freshman top 10 records now belong to Keating recruits.

In Keating's first year then-freshman Ben Dowdell broke the freshman school record with 890 minutes played. He also finished in the top 10 of four other categories. Last season the Bronco freshmen broke or tied seven records. Kevin Foster shattered five on his own, including Kurt Rambis' 32-year old record with 486 points. He also broke Steve Nash's single season record, set when Nash was a senior, with 85 three-pointers, which was also a freshman record. In addition, Marc Trasolini broke or tied three of his own, including the single season record for field goal percentage along with the freshman record, hitting 68.1 %.

And this year it's much of the same as three players are in the top 10 of a number of categories. Ray Cowels is in the all-time Bronco freshman records in four categories. Robert Smith is in the top 10 of nine freshman categories and Niyi Harrison is in the top 10 of two categories. See two columns on the left on page four of the game notes for the SCU freshmen.

The four are also making themselves known in the WCC as evidenced by the freshman-only WCC stats with Harrison leading the WCC way as the top blocker among league freshman. See the chart on page two of the game notes for their top 10 rankings.