Dec. 15, 2009
Santa Clara (6-4) finishes its two-game swing in Houston at Rice (4-4) on Wed., Dec. 16 before returning home to host eight straight home games. It will be Rice's first game in 11 days due to final exams. Santa Clara defeated Houston Baptist on Monday 68-65 in Houston.
Rice won the only meeting between the two teams, finishing the Broncos off 74-56 on Dec 21, 1981 in Santa Clara. The Owls head coach, Ben Braun is in his second year at Rice after coaching at Cal for 12 years; and is 1-0 vs. the Broncos after leading the Bears to a 67-60 Cal win on Nov. 20, 2001 in Berkeley.
Sophomore Kevin Foster, out indefinitely with a broken foot, is the younger brother of Rice alum Rodney Foster. Foster starred for four years for the Owls as a point guard and now plays professionally in Germany.
Santa Clara's eight-game home stretch begins with Pacific (7-2) on Dec. 21 at 7 pm in the Leavey Center. Santa Clara fell 84-57 in Stockton on Nov. 22 as part of the West Coast Classic.The Broncos will close the eight-game home stretch with their first two WCC games of the year: San Diego on Jan. 8 and Saint Mary's on Jan. 10. The eight-game home stretch is the longest the Broncos have played since the Broncos played nine straight home games dating back to Dec. 20, 2003-Jan. 22, 2004. They posted a 5-4 record during that stretch.
The Rice game will be broadcast at 5 pm (Pacific) 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 4:45 pm. Anthony Passarelli is in his third season as the play-by-play announcer.
Last Time Out
Santa Clara put five players in double figures for the first time in a year (last time: at UNLV on Dec. 17, 2008) in its 68-65 win at Houston Baptist on Dec. 14. Niyi Harrison led the Broncos with a career-high 15 points and tied a career-high with eight rebounds.
Rice, members of Conference USA, has not played since Dec. 5 when it fell to North Texas 64-62 on the Owls home court. They were led by freshman forward Arsalan Kazemi's second double-double of the year (12 points, 11 rebounds).
The two have two common opponents this year thus far: Rice defeated Houston Baptist 60-46 on Nov. 15 as part of the Rice Basketball Challenge. Rice has already played Harvard, falling 85-64 on Dec. 2 in Boston. Santa Clara will host the Crimson on Mon., Jan. 4.
How's this for HISTORY?
Santa Clara's football team was Rice University's opponent when the Owls opened Rice Stadium in 1950. Rice won the contest played on Sept. 30, 1950, 27-7.
Santa Clara finished the year at 4-6 after winning the Orange Bowl 21-13 over Kentucky the previous year, posting an 8-2-1 record. Santa Clara dropped football in 1991 after defeating Saint Mary's 44-14 in its last-ever game.
The Broncos used their seventh starting line-up in the win at Houston Baptist. They have had eight different players start in a game this season, mainly due youth and the injuries of Ben Dowdell (leg) and Kevin Foster (foot). The only players to have started in all 10 games this season are Robert Smith and Troy Payne. The Broncos have 13 players who have appeared in a game this season, but only seven have played in all 10 games.
Santa Clara has three players averaging double figures: Kevin Foster (19.8 ppg - out indefinitely), Marc Trasolini (14.2 ppg) and Robert Smith (11.3 ppg). They are lead on the boards by Troy Payne, who averages 7.5 rpg, and Trasolini, who grabs 6.9 rpg. Payne puts out a team-leading 2.9 apg, posting five vs. Dominican and 1.9 spg, grabbing four vs. Dominican. Payne has 8+ rebounds in five games, including nine vs. Fresno State. Smith follows Payne behind with 2.4 apg. Trasolini leads the team with 1.7 bpg.
Eazy Does It Again
Freshman point guard Robert Smith was five of eight from the free throw line at Houston Baptist including two key free throws to help preserve the lead in the last seconds.
Smith has come on strong in the last six games as he has scored in double digits in six consecutive games. In this stretch he is averaging 13.3 points per game and shooting 23 of 60 from the field (38%), including 8 of 20 from beyond the arc (40%). Smith is also 26 of 38 from the free throw line in this stretch (68%).
Marc Trasolini has scored in double figures eight times in 10 games this season and has two double-doubles this season. In 10 games he has scored no fewer than eight points (at Pacific) and has scored 20+ three times this year after accomplishing that feat just once last year. He has scored 22 points in two of the last three games vs. UNLV and vs. Dominican. He tied his career high with eight field goals vs. Dominican, also hitting eight shots vs. USF on Feb. 21, 2009.
On the year he is averaging 14.2 ppg, good for second on the team. He is also second on the team with 6.9 rpg.
Trasolini leads the team with 1.7 bpg, collecting almost half of the teams blocks. Trasolini has 17 of the 36 blocks Santa Clara has collected this season.
After John Bryant led the country with 28 double-doubles last year, finishing his career with 50 even, Trasolini's two double-double are the only career double-doubles on the current Bronco roster.
The 22 points vs. No. 21 UNLV on Dec. 5 was his second-best effort this season after he scored 23 points vs. Menlo on Nov. 16. He scored a career-best 24 points at New Hampshire Jan. 4, 2009. The first three games he shot 10+ free throws, making 8+, but was just a perfect 6-6 vs. Dominican.