Dec. 14, 2007
Santa Clara radio play-by-play voice, Anthony Passarelli, will be writing for SantaClaraBroncos.com throughout the 2007-08 basketball season, giving fans the inside scoop on all things Bronco hoops. In his first installment, Passarelli breaks down the Broncos seven-game road trip, dishes out advice for Holiday shopping and looks back at the last seven-game road trip that Santa Clara had in 1996-97.
As the Broncos closed out the seven-game road trip with a win over San Jose State at the Events Center they should feel pretty good about wining 5 of 7 away from Leavey. Sure there were a couple of tough losses at Nevada and Utah St. but 5-and-2 isn't bad at all. (We'll talk more about those two games and the trip after THIS "trip" down memory lane).
Remember the '96-'97 Broncos?
The last time the Broncos had a 7 game road trip was a decade ago. The 1996-97 season. The Marlon Garnett, Brian Jones, Todd Wusching Broncos who went on to secure a 16-and-11 mark and earn a WCC-Co Championship (with ??). But talk about scheduling a tough start to the season? Dick Davey opened with #2 Kansas at the San Jose Arena (losing 74-64) and then a visit to #14 Frenso State (also a loss, 85-77). Then after a home victory over Marquette it was on the road for seven in a row. But here is where I make the case for the '07-'08 trip being more grueling than the one back then. The first 3 games were played in the Bay Area. San Jose State led off the stretch at the San Jose Arena. Technically a road game but played just down the Alameda/Santa Clara Ave. The next two (against Fairfield and New Orleans) were up at the MetLife Classic...all the way in (gasp!) San Francisco. USF hosted that tournament but the Broncos took home the trophy with a pair of wins. So the first three games were within an hour of the Mission Campus. Not to say they were easy wins but not exactly hopping on a plane or long bus-ride. The next four games WERE the true test. A trip to Bloomington for the "Indiana Classic" and a victory over Eastern Illinois followed by a 12-point loss to Bob Knight, Brian Evans and the #12 Hoosiers. After playing back-to-back nights the Broncos returned three nights later in Cheney, Washington, squeaking out a two-point win over Eastern Washington and then dropping an 18-point decision at Pacific four days later. The trip ended with a 4-and-3 mark but one could also make a case that the tough non-conference schedule (the Broncos would later beat #19 Alabama to win the Cable Car) set them up nicely for the WCC schedule.
Back to the Present...
Credit the Broncos with opening this year's trip in style. Back in Brody Angley's hometown of Redding, Calif. for a matchup with NAIA Simpson University. Played at Shasta College, the gym (make no mistake, Shasta College plays in a gymnasium that seats about 2,000 people) was full for this one. The Broncos scheduled this to be able to allow Brody to play in front of his home fans and there were hundreds of them who came see the young man who was a high school legend at Enterprise High School. He was a star running back and guard for the Hornets. His father Jamie passed away this past Spring after a courageous battle with cancer. To say it was an emotional game would be an understatement. The Broncos won the game easily but the highlight came at halftime when Brody joined is mother and two sisters at center court for the announcement that Enterprise High would now call it's holiday basketball tournament the "Jamie Angley Holiday Tournament". Class. Pure Class. Though I'd call halftime at Simpson my highlight of the road trip there were some other big moments.
* Following the loss at Nevada the Broncos were on to Salt Lake City and the Huntsman Center which has never been an easy place to play (though the Broncos DID upset Arizona there in the first round of the NCAA tournament in March of '93....you needed to be reminded?) John Bryant picked up two fouls in the first 93 seconds and sat for the rest of the half but scored 17 in the second en route to the victory.
* The first 30-min at Sacramento State almost a week later were hard to watch. The Broncos trailed by 9 with just under 12-minutes to play and then stung the Hornets with a 21-2 run which featured a gliding, free-throw line-to-basket-hammer-dunk by Big John.
* Mitch Henke scored 11-straight (8 to start the 2nd half) to put away Eastern Washington four days later in Cheney...
* and then a near victory at the Smith Spectrum Dec. 1 over Utah State came close to being the feather in the cap for this team early in the season. Down 11 with almost 4 min to play, they went on a 10-1 run but a phantom call with the Broncos down two put the Aggies at the line with 20 seconds left. They made both free throws to close out a snowy trip to Logan. Still, 5-and-2 isn't bad...in fact, it was a pretty good way to come back to the Bay Area.
Think of this section in the same way you think of the "bonus" features on DVD movies. All those things you were asking yourself during the movie (or in this case, my column) and couldn't wait to spend more time finding out about. Only difference being, you didn't have to pay for this column. It's free! So you're already ahead. In fact, take the $8 you saved on renting the DVD of this column (there isn't one, I checked) and spend it on this cool Broncos pennant. That's a double bonus, extra for those scoring at home. I'm even helping you with Christmas gift ideas.
Bonus Feature # 1: The Pirate
I'm not sure how he does it but he does. Brody Angley is off to the best start of his 3+ year career with the Broncos but there's no better example of what he means to this team than after he was poked in the eye against Eastern Washington. What was diagnosed as a corneal abrasion, Brody was back on the floor after a brief break, blinking and testing his vision. The next morning at breakfast, before the flight from Spokane to Salt Lake he was wearing a black eye-patch. "Stay on my right side" he grinned as we walked past. Then he goes out and scores a career high against Utah State. Amazing.
Bonus Feature #2: Naming the Column
How did I settle on `The Life' for this column? It wasn't exactly a scientific process. I started with a list of possibilities and then started checking them off. `Behind the Mic' was taken by my predecessor. I toyed with the idea of calling it `in front of the mic' but I figured that might appear lazy. It's not a blog but more of my thoughts about what I see in my day-to-day life as a Santa Clara broadcaster. Hence, `The Life'. (Feel free to send me your thoughts and/or money to sponsor the column. "Now...Where was I? or The Life - Sponsorsed by Uncle Ernie" is a possibility, especially around the holidays. Try me!)
Bonus Feature #3: Who am I?
Good question. Aren't you glad I asked? (don't answer unless you are) I'm a Bay Area native, third generation San Josean who went to Bellarmine College Prep and then to Chico State to begin my career in broadcasting in 1990. 2 years at the campus radio station (KCSC FM) and then a couple of years at KPAY AM. I enjoyed every minute of it. From Chico I landed the radio play-by-play job for the independent Salinas Peppers of the Western Baseball League. A year there and then two in Sacramento as a Sports Anchor at KFBK AM, I moved back to San Jose, got married, and started as a fill-in sports Anchor at KCBS. In 2001, I started doing play-by-play for the SCU women on SantaClaraBroncos.com and this year I am starting my first season with the men.