April 20, 2009
Santa Clara sophomore Michael Santos played in every game last year for the Bronco basketball team, starting 18. Santos averaged 19.3 mpg with 3.2 ppg, 1.9 rpg and 1.2 apg. A native of Occidental, Calif., Santos was put on scholarship this season after walking on the team as a freshman.
Santos spoke what he is working on, how the nickname Toast resurfaced and what he looks forward to most next season. All those answers and more follow.
SCU: What's your nickname? Why?
MS: Toast apparently. From my last name Santos - to Toast. People called me in that in high school and no one knew it here, but somehow it came back. It think Calvin Johnson started calling me that first my freshman year. I guess it's natural because of my last name.
SCU: Both your parents played college basketball at USF. Did you ever play H-O-R-S-E with them?
MS: It's been awhile. When I was younger I played one-on-one with my Dad, but since my sophomore year of high school I haven't played him. I shoot around with him, but we don't compete anymore. I haven't seen footage of either of my parents playing, but have seen photos. I have heard stories, but they don't have archives that go back that far (smiles).
SCU: You parents come to a lot of your games, most of your games actually. They brought Joe and Jennifer Montana to the Pepperdine game last year. You must be close with your parents and your siblings - what have they taught you about being a collegiate athlete?
MS: I am definetly close with all of them. From my parents I learned hard work and preparation. If you are prepared you will have a better chance of success. Always compete hard. From my sisters I learned a lot from their experiences. My sister walked on at Chico State to play soccer and seeing how she dealt with the many experiences has also helped me.
SCU: What sports did you play growing up?
MS: Soccer, until I was in seventh grade. Baseball, I quit in fifth grade because I hated it. I couldn't hit, but also because it was too slow for me. Basketball, I started playing organized in second grade
SCU: What do you look forward to most this spring?
MS: Getting better. I look forward to working with Joe Siara, our strength coach, for a whole off season. He really helped us out last summer. With the people we have here now we are all looking forward to improving. We want to continue to improve our chemistry and try to have an even better year next year. We have some great players coming in.
SCU: What are you working on during individuals?
MS: My ball handling. I am trying to improve that from last year. Trying to work on my outside shooting. Trying to get my outside shot off quicker. I want to put on my weight, get quicker and get a better basketball body.
SCU: Free throws?
MS: Yeah of course. Free throws. No reason not to be an 85% free throw shooter. I have been thinking about that for next year. That has to be one of my goals.
SCU: Have you thought about next year at all yet? What game are you looking most forward to?
MS: I haven't thought that much about next year, I am more concentrating on the spring and summer. From what I hear we aren't traveling much out of the state of California so that will be good for our team. We are playing at San Diego State and I think Santa Barbara and I'm happy about that because my sister goes to school there. Hopefully we will win the Cable Car Classic again.
SCU: Did you watch the NCAA Tournament?
MS: Yes! I watched almost all of it. The later part of the tournament especially. I didn't think the Final Four was very good - the games weren't very entertaining or close.
SCU: Did you pick the four teams that made the Final Four?
MS: My Final Four was Louisville, Memphis, Pittsburgh and UNC. I had UNC beating Louisville in the finals. The Tarheels did come through for me.
SCU: Who has impressed you?
MS: I'd say Michigan State because they beat two Big East teams: Louisville and UCONN. On paper you wouldn't have them going to the championship, but they played tough and together as a team. I hope we can mold our team like that next year.
Individually, Wayne Ellington of North Carolina. He played really well in the Final Four.
SCU: What did you learn watching the NCAA Tournament?
MS: In the bigger conference, how much faster and how much more physical the games are. How efficient the teams are and how good the players are. Especially the Final Four teams - they play at the highest level.
SCU: You are a good student. What is your major and what are your plans after graduation?
MS: I am in the School of Business. I have to declare at the end of this quarter for either Management or Marketing. I am taking a Management class and a Marketing class this quarter to help me decide. I am minoring in Political Science. That class is very interesting
My plans after graduation: ideally it would be to continue playing basketball, but other than that I have no distinct plans.
SCU: Knowing what you have coming back on the team and what you have coming to Santa Clara next year, how excited are you for October 15 to get here?
MS: I am really excited. By then we will have put all the hard work in the summer behind us and be able to focus on the games. With who we have here now, the core that is here, and with who we have coming in, we have a chance to be a really good team. We proved we can play with Saint Mary's when we beat them last year and so we want to continue to improve and move up the WCC ladder. We want to have a goal to get to the post-season, which we've had the last two years, and we want to make that a reality.
SCU: Your team will be really young. As a junior, how will you help lead the team?
MS: Being here for two years with Ben Dowell and knowing what Coach Keating wants and expressing that to the players who haven't been here as long or the new players, so we all get off to a quicker start once practice starts. We need to be efficient. We then don't need to spend as much time on that kind of stuff, the tedious stuff of explaining why we do this, how, etc. - they will know. We know what Coach expects and we can tell the freshmen this so they aren't surprised and are more ready. For Ben and I to be leaders when the coaches aren't around as much - since we've been here the longest - we can help get their message across. We are all working towards the same goal, to win.