Feb. 28, 2001
SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- The third-seeded Santa Clara University men's basketball team enters the annual West Coast Conference Tournament in San Diego this weekend in the unfamiliar, yet perhaps welcome role of visitor.
After hosting the Tournament for the last three seasons and eight the 14 events overall, the Broncos travel to the new Jenny Craig Pavilion on the campus of the University of San Diego. Santa Clara will face sixth-seeded Loyola Marymount in its first round game Saturday at 6 p.m. The game will be broadcast locally on 1220 AM KBZS and worldwide on the Internet at www.SantaClaraBroncos.com.
Serving as tournament host has not necessarily been an advantage for any team in the league. Since the first event in 1987, no host team has ever won the tournament. Santa Clara has two league titles and both came in War Memorial Gymnasium on the University of San Francisco campus. The Broncos advanced to the 1999 and 1988 championship games in the former Toso Pavilion at Santa Clara as well as the 1989 title contest at USF but earned runner-up honors.
"It certainly is interesting that the host team has never won the tournament," said Santa Clara head coach Dick Davey, who is 6-8 overall in league tournament games but led the 1993 squad to the title. "There may be something to the fact that you can get on the road, fully concentrate on the task at hand and give your full attention to trying to win the tournament."
Santa Clara enters the tournament with an 18-11 overall record and 10-4 record in the WCC, good for third-place in the regular season. The Broncos currently are riding a four-game win streak and have won seven of their last nine games, including an 84-71 win over league champion Gonzaga last week at the Leavey Center.
Loyola Marymount enters the game as the sixth-seed with a 9-18 overall mark and 5-9 league record. Santa Clara has won the last six meetings with the Lions and 11 of the last 13 overall.
The Broncos are led by a pair of all-WCC senior co-captains in guard Brian Jones and forward Jamie Holmes. Jones is just four assists shy of Steve Nash's school-record 510 career assists. Against Gonzaga, he became the first player in WCC history as well as the first player in the history of Division I basketball in the state of California to register 1,500 career points, 500 rebounds and 500 assists .
Holmes is the WCC's second-best rebounder with an average of 7.4 per game and his 13.9 point scoring average is good for 8th in the league. He has recorded double-doubles in scoring and rebounding in two of the last three games and is shooting over 60 percent from the field during that time.
Other Bronco starters include junior transfer Steve Ross, who has led the team in scoring in four of the last six games and poured-in 22 points and registered six steals in the win over Gonzaga. Freshman Kyle Bailey is expected to start at the point guard position, while junior David Emslie is expected to start in the middle for the Broncos. Emslie recorded a double-double with 14 points and 10 rebounds against Portland, while Bailey scored 10 of his 14 points in the final 4:49 to secure the Gonzaga win.
In head-to-head competition this season, Santa Clara posted a 5-1 record against teams in the Bay Area. The only blemish on the Broncos' local record was a 15-point loss to then-No. 2 ranked Stanford in the championship game of the Cable Car Classic. Santa Clara swept Saint Mary's and San Francisco and won at San Jose State.
After playing a non-conference schedule that was ranked as the 15th-toughest in the country heading into the final week of non-league play, the Broncos have the third-highest power rating in the conference. Santa Clara's conference mark gave Davey his fourth 10-win record in his nine seasons, the most ever for a Bronco head men's basketball coach.
The Tournament begins at noon Saturday with second-seeded Pepperdine taking-on No. 7 Portland followed by Gonzaga and Saint Mary's. San Diego and San Francisco face-off in the nightcap. The semifinals are scheduled for 5:30 and 7:30 p.m. Sunday, while the title game will be played Monday at 9 p.m. The winner of the WCC Tournament earns the league's automatic berth to the NCAA Tournament.