November 4, 2009

Basketball Opens 2009-10 Season in Exhibition vs. NDNU Friday

Nov. 4, 2009

With six new faces on the Bronco roster, including five freshmen, Santa Clara opens the 2009-10 season with an exhibition at the Leavey Center vs. Notre Dame de Namur on Fri., Nov. 7 at 7 pm. In their last meeting on Dec. 13, 2008, the Broncos defeated the Argonuts 67-47. All games will be broadcast live on KDOW 1220 AM. Santa Clara opens the regular season on the road at CSU Bakersfield on Fri., Nov. 13 before returning home to open the 2009-10 regular season home slate vs. Menlo College on Mon., Nov. 16 at 7 pm. SCU plays 18 home games this season and 27 of its 31 games are in the state of California.

So many games close to home is a fact Bronco head coach Kerry Keating really likes about this year's schedule.. "We have good teams on our pre-season schedule - San Diego State, UNLV, UC Santa Barbara, Northeastern, Kent State - all good teams who will compete or could win their league. We are looking forward to the challenge in the preseason. When it comes time to play in the WCC we know we will face great talent. The coaches in this league have done a really good job of amassing talent and that includes teams at the top. It's going to be exciting, a lot of fun on the court and hopefully we all can win as many games as possible in the preseason and potentially put some WCC teams in post-season play."

In the WCC preseason coaches poll last month, the young, but talented and athletic Santa Clara squad was picked to finish fourth. In addition, sophomore Kevin Foster (14.7 ppg, 2.4 rpg, 2.5 apg last year), the 2009 WCC Newcomer, was named to the preseason All-WCC team. Foster broke former Bronco Steve Nash's single season record for three pointers last season when he hit 85 (Nash hit 84 in 1995). Foster also broke former Bronco Kurt Rambis' freshman school record for points scored with 486 (Rambis scored 414 in 1976-77).

Keating will have to replace All-American and WCC Player of the Year John Bryant and Calvin Johnson, who both graduated last June after their Bronco careers were over. Bryant led the country during the regular season with 14.2 rpg and also scored 18.1 ppg. Keating knows replacing Bryant will be a daunting task for his young team. "John was the anchor of our offense the last two years. Our guys have really responded well in practice to everyone playing more team defense and working to plug up the hole in the middle."

Santa Clara has no seniors on the roster with nine underclassmen. The junior class is made up of Ben Dowdell (3.3 ppg and 3.5 rpg last season), Michael Santos (3.2 ppg and 1.9 rpg), Nate Mensah and transfer Troy Payne. Payne comes to Santa Clara after two years at Citrus College where he averaged 10 ppg and 10.3 rpg. He was named the conference MVP and to the all-state first team.

The sophomore class includes Foster, Troy Alexander (1.2 ppg and 1.5 apg last season), Marc Trasolini (6.7 ppg and 4.8 rpg) and Phillip Bach.

"Kevin will have to maintain that level of play from last year. He has to use his ability to shoot and pass while still carrying the load," said Keating who is in his third year at the Bronco helm. "He played a lot of minutes last year at the end. He can go back and look at that film and see how much better he can be. We are hoping Kevin can lead by example for a number of our players who haven't played Division I basketball yet."

Trasolini, who played on the Canadian National team that finished seventh at the FIBA World U-19 Championships this past summer in New Zealand, was named to the WCC All-Freshman team last season after shattering the single season Bronco school record in shooting 68.1 percent from the field.

Keating also expects big things from Trasolini, who tied Bryant's freshman school record with 37 blocked shots last year. "I expect big things from Marc because he had a chance to do that in a game atmosphere. He shot almost 69 percent last year and we hope he can expand at that. Marc has really long arms and he is a big body at 6' 9. We will need him to be a little more demanding to be in a scorer's role and we think he has the ability to do that."

Trasolini worked hard in the weight room during the off-season and knows even though he missed a lot of the spring with mono, the experiences he had in New Zealand will help him be a better player this year.

"We are really excited to play on Friday night," said Trasolini. "This season I hope to extend my game some offensively. We have big shoes to fill with John Bryant in regards to rebounding and shot blocking. Practices are going really well - it helped we were all here most of the summer together."

Bronco fans will have a chance to see five Santa Clara freshmen in the exhibition as well. The freshmen newcomers who will look to see their first action Friday include: Ray Cowels, a 6-5, 205lb. forward from Minneapolis, Minn.; Chris Cunningham, a 6-8, 230lb. forward/center from Diamond Bar, Calif.; Niyi Harrison, a 6-7, 220lb. forward from Milpitas, Calif.; Kyle Perricone, a 6-3, 195lb. guard from Palo Alto, Calif.; and Robert Smith, a 6-0, 185lb. guard from Perris, Calif.

Earlier this week on the WCC Coaches Preseason Teleconference Keating was asked what freshman would have an impact on the team like Foster did last year. Keating said it would premature to say that before the season started, but he likes what he sees thus far. "We sure didn't think Kevin would have that impact last year at this time. He made a lot of great shots and was a real threat from the perimeter. All of them came in early this summer and got after it in the weight room. I hope one of them can step up and have that type of year. Kevin really became a big threat for us last year."