Santa Clara, 2-1, will continue its six-game road trip with its second stop in East Lansing, Mich. The Broncos will play at No. 19 Michigan State, 2-1, on Mon., Nov. 24. The 4 pm game (Pacific) will be shown on the Big Ten Network with Greg Kelser and Cory Provus making the call. The audio broadcast can also be heard on the SCU website, SantaClaraBroncos.com, with Anthony Passarelli in his eighth year as the Voice of the Broncos. He will be joined on this trip by former Bronco center John Stege.
The Broncos are led by eighth-year head coach Kerry Keating. The Broncos won 14 games last season. They won the CIT title in 2011 and the CBI title in 2013. Prior to coming to Santa Clara, he was on the staff of UCLA for four years, including back-to-back Final Four seasons (2006, '07). While with the Bruins, he is credited with recruiting Kevin Love, Darren Collison and Russell Westbrook. Known as being tech-savvy, Malcolm Lee committed to Keating and the Bruins via Instant Messenger.
Michigan State head coach Tom Izzo has an impressive list of credentials, including the 2000 NCAA National Championship, seven regular-season Big Ten Championships, four Big Ten Tournament titles, six Final Four appearances, eight National Coach of the Year awards and a Big Ten-best 17 straight NCAA Tournament appearances.
In their only meeting, Santa Clara defeated Michigan State 77-71 in the Maui Invitational in 1995. Two-time NBA MVP and former Bronco All-American, Steve Nash, led the Broncos with 23 points. He was 7 of 8 from the free throw line and 8-14 from the field, including 0-5 beyond the arc. Santa Clara shot 51 percent from the field to the Spartans' own 50 percent. Jamie Feick had a double-double for the Spartans, collecting 23 points and 12 boards. In the opening round, Santa Clara defeated then-No. 4 UCLA 78-69 with four Broncos collecting double figures, including Nash with 19.
Top-Scoring WCC Back-Court Returns
The Broncos return the West Coast Conference's top-scoring back-court, Jared Brownridge (17.2 ppg, 2013-14; 12.0 ppg 2014-15) and Brandon Clark (16.9 ppg, 2013-14; 20.3 ppg 2014-15). Brownridge led the team with 95 three pointers a season ago. His 567 points scored shattered the SCU freshman record and placed him at No. 2 all-time in points scored for a Bay Area freshman (that list includes SCU, Stanford, Cal, Saint Mary's, San Francisco and Pacific).
Brownridge finished his freshman year with 24 points vs. Gonzaga in the WCC quarterfinals, as the Broncos fell 77-75 on a last second layup by the Zags' David Stockton. It was his 14th game with 20+ points, which put him at No. 3 on SCU's single season list for 20+ points a game.
Clark had his streak of 25 straight games in double figures snapped at Utah State when he scored nine. It dated back to Dec. 13, 2013. It was the longest streak for a Bronco since Travis Niesen scored double figures in 22 straight games (Feb. 5, 2005-Jan. 21, 2006).
Last season Clark collected 13 games of 20+ points. He did not have a single 20+ game his first two years. Clark hit 86.8 percent of his free throws (145-167) and finished No. 14 on the single season points list with 557. He also became the 32nd Bronco in school history to score 1,000 career points.
Santa Clara also welcomes back senior starters Denzel Johnson (4.2 ppg) and Yannick Atanga (3.0 ppg, 5.0 rpg). Johnson is averaging 11.5 ppg this season and Atanga is pulling down 4.0 rpg. Atanga did not play vs. San Diego Christian, but did he did play at Utah State, scoring five points with seven rebounds before he fouled out late in the second half. The SDC game was the first time in his 104 game career that he missed a game.
Playing in all 33 games last year as freshmen, Jalen Richard (3.9 ppg, 2.3 rpg, 1.4 apg) and Nate Kratch (3.6 ppg, 2.8 rpg, 1.2 apg) also return. The Broncos will lean on these six returning players at the start of the season to help the four first-year Broncos adjust to playing at Santa Clara.
After playing at Michigan State on Monday, the Broncos will travel to Orlando, Fla. to take on Tennessee in their opening game of the Orlando Classic on Nov. 27. The tournament will take place on at the ESPN World Wide of Sports Complex Nov. 27-30. Last season, Tennessee posted 24 wins and advanced to the Sweet 16 of the NCAA tournament.
Based on their results against Tennessee, the Broncos will match up with either Kansas or Rhode Island the next day. If the Broncos match up against No. 5 Kansas, they will play their third 2014 NCAA tournament participant within the same week. SCU will also play on Sunday and that match-up will be determined through the first two games.
Santa Clara will host the 48th annual Cable Car Classic from Dec. 17-23. The Classic begins on Dec. 17 with Northeastern and Cal Poly. The Broncos play Northeastern on Dec. 20 and close with the 2014 Big West tournament champions and NCAA tournament participants, Cal Poly, on Dec. 23.
Moving Up, WCC POW
Brandon Clark is No. 26 on the all-time points scored list with 1,103. With 18 more points, he move to No. 25 (Scott Lamson, 1,120, 1981-85). He needs 179 points to move to No. 20 (Ralph Ogden, 1,280, 1967-70).
Clark is tied for No. 3 all-time in free throw percentage. He has made 287 of his 344 free throws attempted, good for 83.4 percent. The school record is held by Steve Nash (86.1 percent, 1991-96).
After a strong opening weekend, Clark was named the WCC Player of the Week on Nov. 17. Clark set a school record for points scored in a season opener with 31, including 15 of 16 from the line, in the Broncos' win vs. Cal State Fullerton on Nov. 14.
Clark had four career bests on the weekend as well. He shot 50 percent from the three point line (4 of 8) and 85 percent from the free throw line (18 of 21).
He was 15 of 16 from the free throw line vs. the Titans - marking a career best in makes and attempts. He is the only the seventh Bronco in school history to make 15+ free throws in a game. The East Chicago, Ind. native was just one point off his career best with the 31 points.
He scored 21 points vs. San Diego Christian on Nov. 15, collecting a career-high nine assists. He also grabbed a career-best nine rebounds.
It's a Boy?
Denzel Johnson and Academy Award winner Denzel Washington share a similar story on their first names. While pregnant with Johnson, the doctor told his parents he was going to be a girl and were thrown two pink baby showers for a girl. When Johnson was born, they were surprised to find out he was a boy and had no name! After a lot of conversation, they chose the name Denzel, after Denzel Washington.
Fast forward to years later, when Johnson's father, C.J., met Denzel Washington. When Johnson told him why they named his son after Washington, the actor laughed. Washington's parents were also told he was going to be a girl and when he was born, they had no name for him. After debating, his parents named him after the doctor who delivered him.
Like his namesake, Johnson also enjoys his time in front of the camera. Johnson is in his third year of working as an EyeBronco reporter for the SCU Media Relations office. He is in his second year of hosting Bronco Weekly Sports Wrap, a weekly YouTube show on Bronco Athletics (www.youtube.com/EyeBronco).
The Broncos welcome four true freshmen to their team: forward Matt Hubbard from Colville, Wash., guard Stephen Edwards from Muskogee, Okla., forward Evan Wardlow from Lake View Terrace, Calif., and guard Kai Healy from Sydney, Australia. In addition, the Broncos have two redshirt freshmen, forward Jarvis Pugh from Murphy, Texas and center Emmanuel Ndumanya from Anambra, Nigeria. In the offseason, the team also added forward Dominic Romeo, a graduate student who played a year of football at Notre Dame University. The Broncos are expecting to redshirt Healy this season.
Senior Andrew Papenfus is recovering from brain surgery in early Oct. Papenfus suffered a seizure in mid-June at Santa Clara during a Bronco Basketball camp drill. Tests revealed he had a golf ball sized tumor in the left side of his brain. He was given the choice to wait to have the surgery and play this season or have the surgery immediately. Because they couldn't guarantee it wouldn't grow, up-regulate, Papenfus decided to have brain surgery as soon as the surgeon could get it on the schedule. "Why take the risk," said Papenfus.
The five hour surgery was done at UCSF in San Francisco by Dr. Mitch Berger and his team. He has shocked doctors with how fast he has been able to recover. He was only in the hospital for four days. Papenfus has already graduated from basic physical therapy (he couldn't move his right foot after surgery) and is working on sports rehabilitation. His hope is that he will be able to play this season and is shooting for a West Coast Conference debut. He travels with the team to help him continue to rehab.
"I have been extremely thankful for all the support I have received from everyone in the Santa Clara community," an upbeat Papenfus said. "I hope to be an inspiration to people that some of the hardest obstacles can be overcome with a positive attitude, strong faith and great community support."
With a block at Utah State, Yannick Atanga moved to No. 5 all-time in Santa Clara history with 94 career blocks. He passed former All-American Kurt Rambis (93, 1976-80). Atanga had 30 blocks last season. After leading the WCC in rebounds in 2012-13, Atanga was second on the team in rebounds last year with 5.0 rpg. He has collected 10+ boards in 11 career games. A native of Yaounde, Cameroon, Atanga spent time playing with the Cameroon National Team in China as part of a four-nation tournament in the summer of 2013. Playing basketball since he was 12 years old and now sporting a 7-4 wing span, Atanga dreams of one day working for the United Nations as a peacekeeper in Africa.
My Grandma Scored 70 Points!
Nate Kratch made his first three on his first attempt in his first game for the Broncos last year. It should come as no surprise as Kratch comes from a very athletic family. His maternal grandmother, Dorsey Anderson Dinkla, played professional basketball for the Redheads and was inducted into the Professional Basketball Hall of Fame in New York City at Madison Square Garden last year. She once scored 70 points in a high school game.
His dad, Bob, played football at Iowa and went on to win a Super Bowl ring with the New York Giants in 1991. His mother, Kristi, was a high jumper at Iowa and cleared a personal best of 5'11. His older brother, Colby, played tight end at Toledo University and is now a graduate assistant for the Rockets. His younger sister, MacKenzie, strives to be a Division I hockey player next year.
Finally, his paternal grandfather played baseball at Long Island University and two Kratch Uncles played football at Cornell and Central College.
Join Me For A Walk?
Jared Brownridge works as an EyeBronco reporter for the SCU Media Relations office and hosts his own series called "Long Walks With Jared". With a couple camera people filming their conversation, Brownridge walks around the picturesque Mission campus interviewing his subject. He has interviewed teammates Dominic Romeo and Brandon Clark. Through an invitation on @SCUBroncos Twitter, WCC Commissioner Lynn Holzman has agreed to come to campus for a "Long Walk With Jared". He also has plans to invite SCU President, Father Michael Engh, to take a walk in the near future and as well as student-athletes from other Bronco sports and additional teammates and coaches.
Brownridge, who was named to the Kyle Macy All-American team last year as a finalist for National Freshman of the Year, was named as one of the preseason candidates for the Lou Henson Award earlier this month. He was also named to the 2014 10-man preseason All-WCC list. Last season Brownridge set seven SCU freshman season records and three game records.
The Lou Henson Award is presented annually to the Division I "Mid-Major" Player of the Year. The award is named in honor of Henson who retired after a spectacular coaching career that lasted 41 years. When he left the game in 2005 he was sixth all-time in career Division I wins with 779. He is the winningest coach at both Illinois and New Mexico State. He is one of only 12 coaches in the history of the game to take two schools to the Final Four.
Romeo, Romeo Wherefore Art Though Romeo?
In his first season as a walk-on forward with the Broncos after graduating from the University of Notre Dame in 2014, Dominic Romeo is working on his Master's degree in Theology. He graduated magna cum laude from UND in 2014 with a double major in Chinese and Political Science. He was a walk-on defensive end for the Fighting Irish football team (2012 season).
As an undergrad he spent time volunteering in Honduras, Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda and the United State's Appalachian region. He also travelled to China three times and wrote his senior thesis on grassroots Democratic movements in rural China. Proficient in Mandarin Chinese, he was president of Notre Dame's Political Science Honors Society and founded Notre Dame's first-ever Chinese Language Club. His career goal is to be a medical doctor in a developing country.
Just how did he end up at Santa Clara this season? After playing a couple years in Notre Dame's famed Book Store Basketball Tournament, in which he was named the MVP of, Romeo decided to try his hand at college basketball. He passed up the opportunity to play four years prior. He sent emails to more than 150 schools and many responded. A Turlock, Calif. native, he narrowed it down to Cal, Pacific and Santa Clara. After he spent time talking with the Bronco coaches and meeting the players on the team, he said his decision to come to Santa Clara was quite easy. "As I interacted with everyone involved in the program, I was struck by how close the team was, and how much everyone seemed to genuinely care for one another. Being raised in a large family, I greatly appreciate the cohesion of a family, and it didn't take long at all for me to notice that was a real thing here on this basketball team. Once I recognized this, my decision to come here was easy, and I haven't looked back for even a second since."
Going to a WCC school should have seemed like a no-brainer for Romeo. His sister Samantha goes to Gonzaga, his brother attends grad school at Saint Mary's and his father graduated from University of San Diego.