November 8, 2004

Santa Clara Waits for Help in the Middle

Nov. 8, 2004

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    In the evening after a lopsided win over Cal State Stanislaus, Dick Davey feels like his team is in pretty good shape heading into the season opener against Dusquesne in Albuquerque. While all numbers showed a team ready to crack the seal on a new year, Davey noticed something was missing.

    "I still think if we had Sean (Denison) it would have been an awfully good day for us. Not so much with the score but we would have had a presence inside which we haven't had yet. From that standpoint, it wasn't as good as I'd like it to be. I think there's a confidence factor there. (The interior players) really got after it and made a difference. But there was something missing without Sean there and a few guys will have to pick it up in his absence"

    Denison was thrown into the starting lineup due to Jim Howell's broken foot after practice following the second LMU game last season. Now, the 6-10 sophomore from Canada will be out 8-10 weeks with a stress fracture in HIS foot, forcing SCU to go to a center by committee with Jordan Legge, Linden Tibbetts and JC transfer Tristan Parham. The plan is to get as close to 100 percent before conference play.

    "To me redshirting isn't even in the picture because this is Kyle's and Doron's last year and I think we could have a pretty special season," says Denison.

    The "experts" have Santa Clara in the mix in the top four in the league with Gonzaga, Saint Mary's and Pepperdine. But, Denison very well could be the difference in contending for the league championship. With established players at the other positions and very good starting guards, what happens in the middle might determine where the Broncos end up in the standings.

    Much of the credit for Denison's development goes to his mother, Joy, who carted her son eight hours each way to Vancouver for workouts and games with the Canadian Junior National team. They would leave home Saturday morning and often play two games over the weekend.

    "It's great having that kind of support," said Denison. "There were never any problems with going to camps because of her."

    Following his freshman year at Santa Clara, Denison continued his work with the national team program, doing two-a-days for about a month and a half in Eastern Canada. He played in about a dozen games with competition coming from Russia and Europe leading to qualification to next year's Under-20 World Championships in Argentina. If there was one drawback, there was little time to work on what's believed to be his weakness: strength.

    "The thing is that my off-seasons aren't really off-seasons because I'm playing so much. That means it's hard to work out when you're doing two-a-days so I tried to get as much work in as I can. I maybe less chiseled but smarter and better than last year. I'm just making better decisions. Last year I'd get the ball and maybe panic a little. The difference is, this season I see where the opponents are before making a decision. It's just part of the learning experience. "

    Last year was a new experience on and off the court. However, it wasn't the culture shock others would have expected. Denison has a handle on the academics and has more friends outside of basketball. While he struggles to get himself back to the team in time to make a late season run other challenges have emerged.

    "I'm starting to say `huh' sometimes but I think that 'eh' is better," said Denison of a typical Canadian response. "If I had to chose, I'd definitely go with `eh'."