Feb. 20, 2009
So much has been written this season about the outstanding career John Bryant has had as the center at Santa Clara; and rightly so as he will go down as one of Santa Clara's all-time greatest as well as one of the best in the West Coast Conference. But the Broncos' have started three freshmen in their last 11 games, winning the last seven of eight, and the future is bright.
Freshmen Kevin Foster, James Rahon and Marc Trasolini continue to make quick work of the SCU freshmen records with all three climbing the top 10 lists of a number of categories and are on pace to break at least six freshman records. Foster is second on the team with 14.2 ppg and Rahon is No 3 with 10.8 ppg. Trasolini is No. 2 on the team with 4.5 rpg and 1.4 bpg.
SantaClaraBroncos.com will visit with all three freshmen this next week and start off first with Kevin Foster of Katy, Texas. Foster is one of the top freshmen in the WCC as he leads WCC freshmen in all games (14.2 ppg) and WCC games (16.5 ppg) in scoring; and should be considered strongly for WCC Newcomer of the Year.
How gutsy is Foster? He wasn't concerned about facing Saint Mary's Patty Mills, a key member of the Australian national team during the Beijing Olympics, and had this to say after their first meeting in Moraga.
"I've gone up against a couple of NBA players myself," Foster said after the game. "I wasn't thinking about that. I was thinking about playing my own game and trying to win."
In the interview below Foster talks about what he is thinking about when he makes a shot and when he misses a shot, where he got his nickname `Microwave' and why he only thinks one practice and one game at a time.
SCU: Has your season gone like you expected it would?
KF: I think it has gone better than I expected because I have played pretty well. I have played a lot of minutes because Coach Keating has had a lot of faith in me and I took full advantage of the time that he has given me.
SCU: You have shot the ball really well. Any reason why?
KF: No, but maybe because I shoot a lot of balls. I shoot everyday. If I do have a bad game, I know I will play well the next because I will continue to work hard on my shot every single day.
SCU: When you shoot everyday, how many balls do you shoot?
KF: 200 is pretty much the maximum. Coach Keating doesn't want us to wear out our bodies so 200 is pretty much it. The coaches keep track of what we make to make sure we are focused, like in games. They don't tell us what we make in those 200 shots, but they keep track of it.
SCU: Have you always been a good shooter?
KF: I will say yes because I practiced so much with my dad when I was younger. I am disappointed if I don't make a lot of shots because I still shoot a lot of shots with him when I am home and now here at school with the coaches. I have always been a guy who shot a lot of baskets in practice to get ready for games. I love playing basketball.
SCU: Has your dad been a big influence on your career?
KF: Yes, he got me into basketball. I liked playing a lot when I was young, but he really started it off with me from day one. He pushed me hard, worked me hard and it got me where I am today. He was my AAU coach.
SCU: Your brother Rodney is a senior point guard at Rice. Do you talk to Rodney a lot now? Do you ask his advice on college life?
KF: I talk to him on a daily basis. Most of the time when we talk I ask him about things I need to learn. I ask him about defensive schemes and he tells me how to pick it up faster. I can help the team more if I am better defensively. Mostly, he just tells me to play hard and everything will just fall into place. He is a very good student - he has a 3.8 GPA in Mathematics at Rice. Very good student.
SCU: You have already set a couple freshmen records this year at Santa Clara. You are close to setting Kurt Rambis' scoring record. You met Kurt Rambis in December - anything stick out about him to you?
KF: He said a lot of things Coach Keating says. He said you always have to play hard and do the little things because the little things will win you games. That stuck out most because Coach Keating always says that. Coach Keating tells us some really good things.
KF: I don't like to think about it because it's unwanted pressure. There are a lot of people trying to blow my head up and I don't like that. They say I am really good and I can go to the NBA, but I am trying to take it slow. One practice, one game, one day at a time. Whatever happens, happens. I am going to work as hard as I can to make it the best situation. But I am trying to win this USF game so we can get second or third place in the WCC - we need to win these last few games. Right now I am only thinking about USF. If I think about other things, it will take me off my focus. If you are thinking only about points, you are thinking about individual awards and that's not basketball. Basketball is a team game. I wouldn't mind if I had zero points and 20 assists - I just want to do whatever I can do win the game.
SCU: Sounds like you are pretty well grounded. When you make a shot, what do you think? When you miss a shot, what you think?
KF: When I make a shot I know it was probably a good shot and Coach Keating will run another play for me. I am just excited I am going to get another play so I want to make a stop on defense and then focus on knocking the next shot down. When I miss a shot I try not to show any emotions because the other team will notice that and run a play at you. Nobody is going to be perfect in the game, that's why there are rebounds so I try to focus on making shots and not be too worried either way when I shoot it.
SCU: Do you get nervous before games?
KF: I get nervous, but not like I use to. I use to have nerves where I didn't play well the first 10 or 20 minutes. Now I am nervous, but because I know I have prepared well it gives me that extra energy.
SCU: How did you get your nickname Microwave?
KF: My dad gave it me. There was a guy named Vinnie Johnson, who played with the Detroit Pistons in the early 1980s, and that was his nickname. My dad said I played just like him and so he started calling me that. It's kind of stuck since then.
SCU: Speaking of NBA players, is there anyone you would consider a role model?
KF: I try to pattern my game after Deron Williams (Utah Jazz). We are both bigger guards and I have heard some stories that he had some weight problems in the past and now he is in the NBA. I use to have a weight problem as well, but now I'm more of a fit-big. I see him doing well so I feel like I can do things he is doing.
SCU: Where you John Bryant-big like he was when he came to college? Or just big?
KF: I was about 20 pounds over-weight because I got hurt in the sixth grade and it was hard for me to lose the weight. I lost the weight by working hard and making sure I was eating right. When I got here Joe Siara, our strength and conditioning coach, told me what to eat: the good things and the bad things not to eat. I lost 17 pounds before the season started; and kept working out and putting the right things in my body. He says the No. 1 thing is watch what you eat, work out and it will go down (my weight).
SCU: Do you want to lose more weight?
KF: I am trying to lose about five more pounds. And then work my way back up a little with muscle. I would like to weight about 195 pounds.
SCU: Who is the toughest person you've guarded this year? If you played him again, anything you would do differently?
KF: I would say Stefon Jackson from UTEP. He was a stronger guard and at times it was really tough for me. I was doing my best, but he got hot and I don't think anybody could stop him. Looking back, he was going right every time, so if I could play him now I would force him to go left and try to keep him out of the lane.
SCU: What's been your favorite game as a team? And then individually?
KF: My favorite game as a team would probably be the Belmont game in the Cable Car Classic. We were down 18 points at halftime and it seemed so downhill. At halftime we came to the lockerroom and the coaches told us we had to play harder as a team. When we came out we started thinking about making the best shots possible, that extra pass, etc. and we came out of the lockerroom on an 18-0 run. I was glad the team could come together after being down 18 points at halftime. That was a big.
Individually, probably the Arizona game because it was the first game I got major minutes; and the first time I played a big role in the game. I know we lost, but I know Arizona is known for being a really good team and that gave me confidence. I knew then that I could play against anybody on the floor and that really helped.
SCU: Kind of surprised you didn't say Saint Mary's after you scored 31 points on them at their place and then 26 points in the Bronco win here earlier this month. How much fun is it being one of the freshmen? Any good freshmen stories about the guys?
KF: It's fun because we get to play a lot our first year. A lot of freshman don't get to do that. I am blessed to have that opportunity - we all are. I don't have any good stories, we are just having a lot of fun this year.