Santa Clara's men's basketball team travels to Vancouver, Canada Sept. 5-10 for a foreign tour when it will play four teams vs. Canadian universities. It will also have a chance to tour the area and the highlight of the trip might be dinner at Marc Trasolini's family's house during the stay. Make sure to check back at www.SantaClaraBroncos.com for exclusive video, interviews and photos. On Friday Bronco head coach Kerry Keating (KK) talked about why he has loved practicing in August and what he is looking forward to on his first-ever foreign trip as a basketball coach.
SCU: The team has had eight practices and two more prior to leaving for Vancouver on Saturday and Sunday. Have you been pleased so far and what are you working on primarily?
KK: Practices have been really good. Obviously the main concern is we have never had to do anything in August other than the guys playing pick up and strength and conditioning due to being a quarter school. We don't normally start until mid-September. It's a bit of a change and they have responded well. The No. 1 goal is that they are playing hard which is important because we have so many young guys getting ready to play their first college basketball game.
SCU: You are an experienced team, but you have seven newcomers this year. How are they helping each other? How do they compliment each other?
KK: The returners have done a really good job of helping the younger guys get assimilated quickly. They have always done a good job of that. More so now because they understand it a bit better with this being our first full cycle of recruits (Trasolini will be Keating's first home visit to graduate). I think that is why practices have been good. The returners have explained to the young guys the importance of playing hard all the time. The young guys have responded well and I really excited to see them play next week. That will probably be the biggest benefit for us – seeing six guys who have never played a college basketball game with their teammates and getting their feet wet, it's great. Especially this early.
SCU: On your last road trip you won the CIT, visiting the place where John F. Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas and then Ground Zero and Madison Square Garden in New York City. What are you looking forward to on your trip to Vancouver?
KK: Seeing Marc's friends and family. Going to a new city that we have heard a lot about. For a lot of guys it will be the first time so they are really excited. Giving the team a chance to spend time away from home with each other for a length of time. They will learn a lot about each other by spending time with our coaching staff away from basketball. And then they will learn even more alone with each other in a place where their cell phones won't be working and they will rely on each other. It will help our entire team grow as we get prepared for the season. The upperclassmen understand that even more after last year's road trip and they have indicated to me that they are excited about that.
SCU: This is the first foreign tour you have taken as a basketball coach. What do you expect to get out of it as a head coach?
KK: The same thing I would normally get by going to any foreign country – to learn as much about the city, the culture and the people as I can. My family is coming and so I will want to spend time with them as well. I look forward to spending time with the team and also them spending time alone with each other. The games are secondary to the trip. The priority is to spend time with the players and families and learn more about our returners than we knew a couple weeks ago and even more about our newcomers.
KK: Our effort. Our effort has been really good. Guys have gone hard and I don't think you would be able to distinguish too much about what we have done well in September and October right now in August. And that bodes well. They justified our feelings on the trip. The actual trip is the reward. The work is the 10 practices. So far they have done a really good job and that's a testament to our returners. They understand that is a large part of what our program is about – our effort. I have also been pleased with how well they are getting along and how they have opened themselves up to helping the freshmen and accepting the competition. They have elevated their play and that's always encouraging.
SCU: You come back and take some time off in September, and then return to individuals on September 18. How much will the 10 practices help this team headed into individuals?
KK: We will certainly find out when we come back after we play four games and after we get into our normal routine. It buys us time and accelerates the development of the young guys we would hope. I don't think you can really answer that until you see how the games go and see how the guys respond to game situations.
SCU: Last question. You released your schedule earlier this week. Any additional thoughts on it? What are you most looking forward to?
KK: The first game we are most looking forward to the most because it's the most important one. It's our next game. I am excited for our fans, students, alums and boosters in what promises to be a great season. I look forward to seeing everyone in Leavey and we hope we have as many Broncos join us when we are on the road.