Dec. 27, 2009
Santa Clara's (7-5) hosts the 43rd annual Cable Car Classic Tues., Dec. 29 and Wed., Dec. 30. It is the longest-running holiday tournament in the country. Santa Clara won the title last year for the 15th time in school history with a 89-88 overtime victory over UTEP. John Bryant was named the MVP of the Cable Car Classic and Ben Dowdell was named all-tournament for the second straight year.
On Dec. 29 Santa Clara will play Northeastern (3-7) at 6 pm; and Kent State (7-4) and Wofford (7-6) will play at approximately 8 pm. On Dec. 30 the losers will play at 6 pm in the consolation game and the winners will play at 8 pm in the championship. Santa Clara is meeting Northeastern for the first time and it would be the same if the Broncos played Wofford. SCU is 3-0 vs. Kent State with their last meeting being on Dec. 23, 1976 at Kent State. Santa Clara won 79-71.
In 30 of the Classic's 42 years, the Classic has featured a team that would receive a bid to the NCAA Tournament just months later. Ten of the years it has featured multiple teams who would later advance to the NCAA. The 1995 Cable Car Classic proved to be one of the strongest fields with all four teams advancing to the 1996 NCAA Tournament in March. Penn State won the Cable Car Classic with Georgia Tech, Santa Clara and Bradley also making the post-season. Georgia Tech won the ACC title that year as well.
Those participating in past Cable Car Classic read like a who's who in college basketball history. From the Santa Clara teams of the 1960's and `70's that featured the talents of Bud Ogden, Dennis Awtrey and Kurt Rambis, and the USF squads, led by Kevin Restani, Winford Boynes and Bill Cartwright to traditional basketball powers such as Dean Smith's North Carolina Tar Heels featuring Michael Jordan and James Worthy, and the Ralph Sampson-led Virginia Cavaliers to the `90s with Stephen Marbury of Georgia Tech to this century's teams, including one of Air Force's best-ever teams in 2006.
"We have also had a lot of the elite coaches," said one of the founders, Art Santo Domingo prior to last year's holiday tournament. "Bobby Knight and then Mike Krzyzewski with Army, Frank McGuire with South Carolina, Jud Heathcote with Michigan State, Gene Keady with Purdue, Bobby Cremins of Georgia Tech, Hugh Durham with Florida State, Mike Montgomery with Stanford, Phil Martelli with St. Joe's, Dean Smith with North Carolina and Terry Holland with Virginia. Many of those coaches will find their way into the Basketball Hall of Fame."
The 43rd annual Cable Car Classic brings together four teams from four different regions of the country, including one that travelled across a number of times zones before coming to Santa Clara this week. Host Santa Clara sits in the West region. Kent State comes from the Midwest, travelling 2,515 miles. Wofford is from the South, coming across the USA from Spartanburg, S.C. - travelling 2,614 miles. Northeastern hales from the Northeast with its school headquartered in Boston; and it normally would have flown 3,131 miles to get to the Bay Area, but it came the long way. It played three games in Honolulu prior to coming to Santa Clara, traveling 3,612 miles from the Aloha State.
Last Time Out
Robert Smith scored 16 points, but it was not enough to stop Adrian Oliver and San Jose State as the Spartans defeated the Broncos 74-68 on Dec. 23. SCU shot 37.9 percent, including 27.8 percent from beyond the arc. San Jose State shot 42 percent, including 54.5 percent from beyond the arc.
Smith led the Broncos with 16 points and five assists. Troy Payne added 15 points and Harrison finished with 10 points. Adrian Oliver led the Spartans with 23 points and 12 rebounds. Mac Peterson finished with 17 points and Robert Owens added 12.
Northeastern turned in its best offensive output of the season on Dec. 25 and snapped a five-game losing streak by shooting 56.6 percent from the floor and 41.7 percent from three-point range in a 73-62 victory over SMU in the consolation bracket of the Hawaiian Airlines Diamond Head Classic at the Stan Sheriff Center in Honolulu. Four Huskies scored in double digits, including Matt Janning (16), Chaisson Allen (15), Nkem Ojougboh (14), and Manny Adako (10).
Wofford won a rare Monday afternoon game at UNC Asheville on Dec. 21, 68-42. The Terriers were up six at the half, but came alive in the second half and outscored the Bulldogs by twenty to pull away for the victory. Noah Dahlman led the Terriers with 19 points and twelve rebounds, his third double-double of the season. Twelve Wofford players scored in the game.
Kent State put together another strong defensive effort to post a 71-57 win at Robert Morris on Dec. 22. With the defense forcing at least 19 turnovers for the fourth straight game, senior guard Tyree Evans took care of the offense in a key 18-2 second half run that decided the final outcome. Evans, who scored 14 of his 16 points in the second half, racked up nine points during the run that covered 4:30 of the game.
Justin Greene led KSU with 21 points, converting a career best 13-14 from the foul line. Grabbing a team-high seven rebounds was senior Chris Singletary who also added six assists and six points. Senior Anthony Simpson added nine points and seven rebounds.
In Santa Clara's game vs. SJSU on Dec. 23, Troy Payne tied a career-high with 15 points, hitting six of 10 from the field. Robert Smith played a career-high 37 minutes, scoring 16 points with a career-high seven rebounds and five assists.
Smith has come on strong recently as he has scored in double digits eight of the last nine games. 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 nine-game streak Smith scored a career-high 17 points vs. Fresno State, was a career-high 6 of 8 from the free throw line in the win at UCSB and had 16 points vs. SJSU.
Smith was named to the Cousy Watch List as the top point guard in the country on Dec. 16. He is one of two point guards on the list from the WCC. The other is Gonzaga's Matt Bouldin.
The Broncos failed to block a shot vs. SJSU. It was the first time since Jan. 15, 2009 at Gonzaga that they failed to block a shot in a game. In addition, SCU allowed SJSU to score 74 points and it was the first time since Nov. 25 vs. Northern Arizona that an opponent was able to score 70+ points on the Broncos.
The Broncos have used their seventh starting line-up of the season in the past four games: 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 13 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 players have played in all 13 games: Trasolini, Smith, Harrison, Cowels, Payne, Michael Santos and Troy Alexander.
SCU has three players averaging double figures: Kevin Foster (19.8 ppg - out indefinitely), Marc Trasolini (14.1 ppg) and Robert Smith (11.2 ppg). They are led on the boards by Troy Payne, who averages 6.8 rpg, and Trasolini, who grabs 6.7 rpg. Robert Smith leads the team with 2.7 apg. Troy Payne has 8+ rebounds in five games, including nine vs. Fresno State. 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.
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 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.
Marc Trasolini has scored in double figures 10 times this season and has two double-doubles. In 12 games he has scored no fewer than seven points (vs. SJSU) 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.
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. 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 UNH Jan. 4, 2009. The first three games he shot 10+ free throws, making 8+, but was just a perfect 6-6 vs. Dominican.
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.
SCU was 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 SCU.
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.