Dec. 28, 2004
Last spring at the annual Cable Car Classic golf event, so many coaches around the country expressed how lucky Santa Clara was to have such a supporter as Art Santo Domingo. A friend from a rival West Coast Conference school bemoaned the fact his school didn't have a guy just like him. The founder and executive director of the annual Cable Car Classic gave me some of his time as he prepares for his 38th annual event that begins Tuesday.
Dave Lewis: "When you started the tournament, did you ever think it would last this long?"
Art Santo Domingo: "That means you know I'm at least 39?"
DL: "Barely 39. How did all this get started?"
AS: "We were looking for more intersectional games. At the time we started, there were very few of those. Air travel was a little bit slower in those days and teams didn't travel all that much. But we wanted to get some of those out of area teams to come in and play some of the best that we had. That's really how it got started."
DL: "You were a guy that didn't have a lot of power at that time. You and Harry Jupiter were just basketball fans. Just a couple regular guys. How do you just call some coach out of left field and say, 'We're having an event in the Bay Area. Will you come out and join us.'"
AS: "At the beginning it was hard. Nobody knew what you were talking about. But, through different contacts and people in the media that we knew, we were able to get in contact with coaches like George Ireland of Loyola and convince them to try it and come on out. It's been real successful as far as that's concerned. We've had a lot of the best teams in the country and this year I'm kind of excited about the new and improved Broncos. I think they will be the big attraction but Charlotte is in the tournament, too. They were considered by the preseason polls as one of the top 18 or 19 teams in the country. We're always looking for good competition. Yale has a really good team (picked to contend for the Ivy League crown with Princeton and Penn). I'm still learning about Central Connecticut State but they've been in the NCAA tournament two of the last three years. But I do think the Broncos have a great chance to win it because they have a real team. Dave, you remember a couple years ago when you had maybe four players who could score and now you have 10 people on the team that can score. It's really deep, enthusiastic, good group of guys. It's a real team and I'm excited about the Broncos."
DL: "If they can learn to take care of business on the road, there's a chance to do some great things. You've seen so many Santa Clara teams over the years. Do you feel this one has a chance to do something special and go to the tournament?"
AS: "There's a long way to go but I think they can. The things that can hold them back are not winning the league or the league tournament, which takes care of the automatic bid. Until the recent problems on the road and the Irvine game, people were looking at an at-large bid. If they come up short there, there's a shot an NIT bid. They've got a real nice team and they've proven they can play with just about anybody. They feel that way despite some of the recent games. But if they get it going, anything is possible. We'll see what happens in the end."
DL: "How do the exempt events like Maui and Alaska affect your event?"
AS: "Most of the bigger teams, the higher profile teams have big arenas at home. They don't want to give up a home game unless it was for a sanctioned or exempt tournament. For example, if they go to Maui and play three games it only counts as one. That's a big incentive to those big schools. If not, they'll stay home and get big bucks for filling their house of fifteen or eighteen thousand people. So, it's a little bit harder for us to get those teams. Also, coaches are looking for teams they know they can beat. They don't want to come out if the competition is too good. That's the only thing I was afraid about after the wins over North Carolina and Stanford. Oh no. People were going to think we were too good and not want to play us. Regardless of Santa Clara's record, it's still very difficult."
DL: "Give me a couple of your favorite Cable Car memories."
AS: "Way back in the second or third year when we had BYU, it was up in San Francisco. BYU had a big band and a bunch of cheerleaders who put on a great show. To show our appreciation, we sent them out to dinner in the city and we checked with the restaurant the next day and asked them how everything went and if the kids were well behaved. The only problem was that they ran out of milk. We had Michael Jordan in the tournament when he came out with North Carolina. They won the tournament but he didn't play real well."
DL: "He didn't even make all-tournament?"
AS: "No he didn't. We also had Ralph Sampson with Virginia and San Jose State beat `em. In the later years, we had a bunch of guys in the NBA like Cuttino Mobley from Rhode Island and Stephon Marbury who played at Georgia Tech. We've had some great teams and a lot of great games. If you come out you won't regret it. You get to see two games for the reasonable price of one."