Dec. 3, 2009
Santa Clara (4-3) returns home to host No. 21/24 UNLV (6-0) on Sat., Dec. 5 at 7pm. Both teams are coming off impressive road wins. Santa Clara travelled to UC Santa Barbara on Dec. 1 and defeated previously-unbeaten UCSB 79-68 with four Bronco players finishing in double figures, including Kevin Foster who led all scorers with 18 points. UNLV travelled to Tucson, Ariz. Dec. 2 to play its first road game of the year and had to work into double overtime to get the 74-72 win at Arizona. The Runnin' Rebels were led by Tre'Von Willis' 25 points in a game that featured 21 lead changes and 16 ties.
Despite putting five players in double figures in their last meeting, the Broncos fell 78-66 in Las Vegas on Dec. 17, 2008. John Bryant led the Broncos with 12 points and 14 rebounds; and Wink Adams led the Rebel cause with 16 points.
UNLV leads the all-time series with the Broncos 8-7. Santa Clara holds the series 7-6 when both were members of the West Coast Athletic Conference in the early 70s. This is the first time UNLV has visited Santa Clara since its 81-74 win over the Broncos on Feb. 15, 1975 as a member of the WCAC. UNLV has won five of the last six vs. the Broncos after Santa Clara won four straight dating back to 1971-72. Us vs. Ranked
The last time Santa Clara upset a nationally-ranked team was on Nov. 19, 2004 against then-No. 4 North Carolina (77-66) at the Pete Newell Challenge in Oakland, Calif. The Tarheels went on to win the NCAA title that season with a 75-70 victory over Illinois. The last win on the Broncos home court against a nationally-ranked opponent came on Dec. 4, 1993 when the Broncos upset 13th-ranked California 80-67. The last time the Broncos hosted a ranked non-conference team they lost 78-70 to then-No. 21 Nevada on Nov. 25, 2006. Nevada remained in the polls all year long and advanced to the NCAA Tournament's second round that season.
The UNLV game will be broadcast at 7 pm via the Bronco Radio Network on both KDOW 1220 AM and Broncos All-Access on the web at www.SantaClaraBroncos.com. The pregame show will begin at 6:45 pm. Anthony Passarelli is in his third season as the play-by-play announcer.
UNLV is fresh off two wins over historically-great basketball programs including a 76-71 win over then-No. 16 Louisville and then a 74-72 double overtime win at Arizona. They have two players averaging double figures: Tre'Von Willis (17.5 ppg) and Oscar Bellfield (10.0 ppg) and Chace Stanback is their leading rebounder with 5.8 rpg.
They are led by head coach Lon Kruger who is in his sixth year at UNLV. The team's season ended last year with a 70-60 loss at Kentucky in the First Round of the NIT. Kruger was the head coach of the NBAs Atlanta Hawks from 2000-03 and before that was the head coach at Illinois, Florida, Kansas State and Pan American.
The Runnin' Rebels jumped into the top 25 in both polls this week. They were last in the rankings at the close of their Sweet 16 run in 2007, when they were No. 19 in the final AP poll and No. 14 in the final coaches' poll. This week's rankings also mark the first time that the Runnin' Rebels have been in the national polls in the month of November since the 1992-93 season, when that squad spent the entire year in the top 25.
The Runnin' Rebels return two starters and six lettermen from a team that went 21-11 last year and finished fifth in the Mountain West at 9-7. UNLV was picked to finish third during the 2009-10 Mountain West Conference season. Willis and Derrick Jasper each received preseason accolades as Willis was named to the preseason all-conference team and Jasper was selected as the Preseason Newcomer of the Year.
The Runnin' Rebels were selected last summer by ESPN.com as the eighth-most prestigious men's college basketball program since the NCAA Tournament field expanded to 64 teams in 1984-85.
UNLV features seven transfers on the floor this year, including three starters: Derrick Jasper (Kentucky), Chace Stanback (UCLA) and Tre'Von Willis (Memphis). Other players who have seen time on the floor this season, but started their careers elsewhere: Steve Jones (Arizona State), Tyler Norman (Iowa State), Todd Hanni (Wasbash Valley College) and Darris Santee (Midland College).
An eighth transfer, Quintrell Thomas (Kansas), will be eligible to play next year.
Santa Clara currently has one transfer on its roster: junior Troy Payne who came to Santa Clara this season from Citrus College.
Santa Clara is 10-33 vs. the current Mountain West teams and have posted winning records vs. four of the nine teams. The team the Broncos have faced the most: they have played BYU 20 times dating back to 1951. UNLV is 79-30 vs. the West Coast Conference and holds a winning record vs. each of the league's eight teams. Santa Clara's seven wins vs. UNLV are the most vs. the Running Rebels by a WCC team.
In playing the Mountain West over the years, Santa Clara is 0-1 vs. Air Force, 5-15 vs. BYU, 1-0 vs. Colorado State, 2-4 vs. New Mexico, 0-1 vs. San Diego State, 1-0 vs. TCU, 7-8 vs. UNLV, 5-4 vs. Utah and 3-0 vs. Wyoming.
One note: Santa Clara and UNLV played 13 times as members of the West Coast Athelic Conference from 1969-70 - 1974-75 when UNLV left the conference so only two of the games SCU and UNLV technically count as Mountain West Conference wins.
Home Sweet Home
The Broncos are 2-1 at home this season with UNLV coming to town on Saturday night as Santa Clara plays 18 home contests this year. At home this season the Broncos are averaging seven more points a game and have three players averaging 14 points or more (Kevin Foster, Marc Trasolini and Robert Smith) while on the road only two players are in double figures (Foster and Trasolini).
Last season Santa Clara posted an 11-3 record at home with its losses coming at the hands of Stanford, San Diego and then-No. 17 Gonzaga. It had three players average double digits at home but only John Bryant and Foster hit double figures averages in road games.
West Coast Classic All-Tournament
Santa Clara hosted the West Coast Classic the past two weeks, playing two games on the road (San Diego State and Pacific) and hosting two games (Northern Arizona and Fresno State). Marc Trasolini and Robert Smith were named to the West Coast Classic All-Tournament team. Trasolini was the second-best rebounder in the Classic, pulling down 7.8 rpg, Kevin Foster was second-best with 1.8 spg and Smith was the fifth-best in assists with 2.8 apg. Santa Clara led the five-team Classic in steals with 8.0 spg.
Even Younger A team that features no seniors and nine underclassmen, SCU starts a very young team after the leg injury to three-year starter Ben Dowdell in the Pacific game. In its Nov. 25 loss vs. Northern Arizona, SCU started two freshman (Niyi Harrison and Robert Smith), two sophomores (Kevin Foster and Trasolini) and one junior transfer (Troy Payne). It was Harrison's first career start. They turned it up a notch in the win over Fresno State on Nov. 28, starting four freshmen (Smith, Harrison, Chris Cunningham and Raymond Cowels) and a junior transfer (Payne). In the win at UCSB Santa Clara started two freshmen (Smith and Cunningham).
According to STATSHEET.com, after seven games Santa Clara is tied as the seventh-youngest team in the country; and it is the youngest team in the WCC with an average of 1.88. Of note, Portland, who defeated UCLA 74-47 on Nov. 26, has the oldest team with an average of 3.61. The average is figured on the sum of minutes each player plays is multiplied by their class year (Freshmen = 1, Sophomore = 2, Junior = 3 and Senior = 4) and is divided by the total team minutes.
Quick Hands Santa Clara had 12 steals and forced 23 turnovers at UC Santa Barbara on Tuesday. It was most steals for a Kerry Keating team in the last three years. It was the most steals by a Bronco team since Santa Clara stole the ball 14 times in an 86-35 win over Notre Dame de Namur on Dec. 20, 2005. They forced 21 turnovers that night.
Santa Clara is the 14th fastest team in the country with 75 offensive possessions a game. VMI leads the nation.
Tale of Two Teams
The 10 turnovers committed by the Broncos vs. Fresno State were the fewest made on the season, including just three in the second half. The Broncos had 56 turnovers in their prior three games combined.
The Broncos have had 10 turnovers five times under Coach Keating with the last time being 10 vs. Gonzaga Feb. 26, 2009. The last time Santa Clara turned the ball over fewer than 10 times: it had nine turnovers in the 63-47 victory vs. Saint Mary's on March 4, 2007 in the WCC Championship semi-final game that pushed SCU to the finals.
Santa Clara has been a tale of two teams this year. In the four wins, the Broncos averaged 13.3 turnovers per game, but in the three losses they are averaging 18.7 turnovers per game. In addition, the Broncos averaged 79.0 points per game in the four wins with the opponents scoring just 67.8. In the three losses Santa Clara averaged 60.7 ppg and the opponents have averaged 86.0 ppg.
In its four wins it had fewer turnovers than the opponent and also led at half-time of each game. In its three losses the opposite was true on both accounts.
Santa Clara has made at least 30 free throw attempts its four wins this season. In the three losses, the Broncos went to the free throw line 19 times or less. Kind of surprisingly, three of the top four free throw percentages for a game came in the Broncos losses: they are shooting 65 percent from the line in the victories while shooting 75 percent in the losses.
A Quick Look Back at UCSB
* Santa Clara led 42-29 at the half. The 42 points were the most for a Santa Clara team since it scored 48 in an 87-55 win over USF on Feb. 25, 2008. They had two players in double figures in the first half for the second straight game as Raymond Cowels had 13 and Robert Smith had 11.
* Santa Clara had four players in double figures for the second time this year: Foster had 18, Marc Trasolini had 15, Cowels tied a career-high with 13 points and Smith scored 11. The other game was at CSU Baskerfield when Foster led all scorers with 21 points, all put up in the second half.
* Troy Alexander played a season-high 19 minutes in the win at the point, hitting six of nine free throw attempts in the second half. Alexander is coming back from two surgeries in the off-season after starting the first seven of eight games last year. He didn't play on a regular basis last season after he suffered a sprained left shoulder vs. Sac State on Dec. 6; and had right wrist surgery on Jan. 23, 2009 that shut down his season completely.
Santa Clara has three players averaging double figures: Kevin Foster (19.8 ppg), Marc Trasolini (12.4 ppg) and Robert Smith (10.4 ppg). They are lead on the boards by Troy Payne, who averages 8.1 rpg, and Trasolini, who grabs 7.1 rpg. Payne puts out a team-leading 2.9 apg with Smith close behind with 2.8 apg. Foster is the team leader with 2.2 spg and Trasolini the leader with 1.7 bpg, collecting half of the teams blocks. Trasolini has 12 of the 24 blocks Santa Clara has collected this season.
Trasolini has scored double figures in five times and has one double-double. His two career double-doubles are the only two on the team. Foster has scored in double figures in each of the games he's played in, leading the team in scoring in all six games; and he has scored 20+ in three of those. Payne has 8+ rebounds in four games, including nine vs. Fresno State.