Basketball hosts Pacific Monday, San Jose State Wednesday

Dec. 21, 2009

Santa Clara's (6-5) eight-game home stretch begins with Pacific (7-3) on Dec. 21 at 7 pm in the Leavey Center. The Broncos will close out 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.

Santa Clara fell 84-57 to the Tigers in Stockton on Nov. 22 as part of the West Coast Classic. Santa Clara leads the all-time series 86-38 and Coach Keating is searching for his first career win vs. UOP. Santa Clara is 5-6 vs. the Tigers dating back to 1999-2000.

Vs. the WCC

Half of Pacific's games so far this season have been vs. West Coast Conference teams. The Tigers are 3-1 vs. the league. In addition to the win over Santa Clara, they won at Pepperdine in double overtime on Nov. 13 (67-64) and then in Stockton vs. San Diego on Nov. 16 (56-55). In their last meeting with a WCC team, the Tigers fell 80-65 in Moraga to Saint Mary's on Dec. 18.

Listen up

The Pacific game will be broadcast at 7 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 6:45 pm. Anthony Passarelli is in his third season as the play-by-play announcer.

In addition, Kerry Keating can be heard on KDOW 1220 AM on Sunday evenings from 8:30-9 pm in his radio spotlight on The Sports Ramble, hosted by Chetan Chaudhari. If you are out of the listening area Bronco fans, KDOW is streamed online live at www.1220kdow.com.

Leading

SCU has three players averaging double figures: Kevin Foster (19.8 ppg - out indefinitely), Marc Trasolini (14.5 ppg) and Robert Smith (11.2 ppg). They are led on the boards by Troy Payne, who averages 7.5 rpg, and Trasolini, who grabs 6.8 rpg. Payne puts out a team-leading 2.6 apg. Payne has 8+ rebounds in five games, including nine vs. Fresno State. Smith follows Payne behind with 2.5 apg. Trasolini leads the team with 1.8 bpg.

Foster Out Indefinitely

Santa Clara's leading scorer Kevin Foster, the West Coast Conference's second-leading scorer this season, is out indefinitely with a right foot injury. Foster has a fracture of the fifth metatarsal that required surgery on Sat., Dec. 19.

Foster injured his foot in the final minutes of Santa Clara's 79-68 victory at UCSB on Dec. 1. Bronco head coach Kerry Keating said he will know more specifically how long Foster will be out after they talk to the doctor post-surgery. Keating added an injury like Foster's normally requires 2-3 months of recovery prior to any contact.

Prior to injury, Foster was second in the league in scoring and led the WCC in steals and three-pointers made; and Foster was averaging 19.8 ppg, playing 31.5 mpg with 2.2 spg and 2.8 rpg. He led the Broncos in scoring in each of the six games he played this season, including a season-high 25 points in the 74-67 win over Fresno State on Nov. 28.

Foster was named to the preseason WCC all-conference team this year after being named the WCC Newcomer of the Year last season, breaking Steve Nash's single season record with 85 three pointers. He was also named a Freshman All-American, to the WCC All-Freshman team and All-WCC honorable mention. He averaged 14.7 ppg and 2.4 rpg last season, breaking Kurt Rambis' freshman scoring record with 486 points. Starting Here

The Broncos used their seventh starting line-up of the season in the win at Houston Baptist and stuck with it for the game at Rice: Robert Smith, Raymond Cowels, Troy Payne, Niyi Harrison and Marc Trasolini. 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 11 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 11 games.

11 now vs. 11 then

Putting a microscope on this year's first 11 games and comparing it to last year's first 11 games, it's obvious Santa Clara's up tempo style of play this season is helping Santa Clara grab more steals, rebounds and hit the line more often than last season. But, the Broncos need to continue to work on handling the ball and their field goal shooting.

Santa Clara has 23 more steals, 90, after its 11th game this year than it did last year at the same juncture.

Santa Clara is going to the free throw line twice as much as it did last year at this point. This year they are shooting 69 percent from the free throw line, hitting 208 of 303. Santa Clara was shooting almost 75 percent from the free throw line last year, hitting 114 of 152.

Santa Clara had 353 rebounds up to this point last year and currently it has 405. This year they have 151 offensive and 254 defensive. Last year they had 100 offensive and 253 defensive. Santa Clara's John Bryant led the country with 14.3 rpg last year in the regular season.

Santa Clara was shooting almost 46 percent last year (251-550) and is shooting 41 percent this season (244-601). The Broncos are currently scoring 68.6 ppg and their opponents score 72.3 ppg. Last season, at the same mark Santa Clara was scoring 61.4 ppg, but opponents were only scoring 57.8 ppg.

Santa Clara is also turning the ball over more this year, with 195 turnovers compared to last year's 167. But, opponents are turning the ball over a lot more this year than last year: they have given it up 185 this year compared to last year's 147 (16.8 to this year with 13.4 to last year).

Arms

Santa Clara has seven players with wingspans at least an inch longer than their own height. According to Bronco strength and conditioning coach Joe Siara, Marc Trasolini, who measures 6' 9, has the longest wingspan on the team, measuring at 7' 1 1/4 - more than three inches longer than his body. Kevin Foster and Raymond Cowels measure at 6'2, but have wingspans at 6'6; Nate Mensah is 6'3 with a wingspan of 6'5; Chris Cunningham measures at 6'8 with a wingspan of 6'9 1/2; Troy Payne measures at 6'6 with a wingspan of 6'7 1/2; and Robert Smith measures at 6'0 with a wingspan of 6'1 1/4.

Wins vs. Losses

Santa Clara has been a tale of two teams this year. In the six wins, the Broncos averaged 15.8 turnovers per game, but in the five losses they are averaging 20.0 turnovers per game. In addition, the Broncos averaged 75.8 points per game in the six wins with the opponents scoring just 66.8. In the five losses Santa Clara averaged 60.4 ppg and the opponents have averaged 78.8 ppg.

Santa Clara is shooting almost 69 percent this season from the free throw line. Oddly enough, the Broncos are shooting better from the line in losses than wins, but hit the line twice as much in wins. In wins this year, Santa Clara is shooting almost 66 percent from the line (136-207). In losses this year, Santa Clara is shooting 75 percent (72-96).

The 10 turnovers committed by the Broncos in the victory vs. Fresno State were the fewest made on the season, including just three in the second half. 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.

Younger

A team that features no seniors and now eight underclassmen after losing leading scorer Kevin Foster indefinitely to a broken foot, SCU starts a very young team. The past three games Santa Clara started three freshmen (Raymond Cowels, Robert Smith and Chris Cunningham/Niyi Harrison), a sophomore (Marc Trasolini) and a junior transfer (Troy Payne).

According to STATSHEET.com, Santa Clara is the sixth-youngest team in the country; and it is the youngest team in the WCC with an average of 1.87. Portland has the oldest team in the WCC with an average of 3.61 and it is the third-most experienced team in the country. 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.

The Broncos were quite young last year as well. According to STATSHEET.COM (March 2, 2009), the Broncos had the 38th youngest team in the NCAA last year of the 342 Division I teams, which means 89% of the Division I teams had a more-experienced starting five than the Broncos.

Eazy Streak Continues and the Cousy

Robert Smith was named to the Cousy Watch List as the top point guard in the country last week. He is one of two point guards on the list from the West Coast Conference. The other is Gonzaga's Matt Bouldin.

Smith has come on strong recently as he has scored in double digits in seven consecutive games. In this stretch he is averaging 13.3 points per game and shooting 28 of 72 from the field (39%). Smith is also 26 of 38 from the free throw line in this stretch (68%).

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.

During the seven-game streak Smith scored a career-high 17 points vs. Fresno State and was a career-high 6 of 8 from the free throw line in the win at UC Santa Barbara.

Traz

Marc Trasolini has scored in double figures nine times this season and has two double-doubles as well. In 11 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.

Toast

Michael Santos was a force in the middle against UNLV as he pulled down a career-high nine boards. His previous high was six vs. Notre Dame de Namur on Dec. 13, 2008. Santos also played a season-high 30 minutes against the Rebels. His career-high was 36 minutes vs. Arizona on Nov. 25, 2008.