Santa Clara returns to the Leavey Center this weekend to open a three-game West Coast Conference homestand. The Broncos begin by hosting Bay Area rival USF at 3 pm on Sat., Jan. 17. The game will be telecast on Comcast California with Glen Kuiper and Dan Belluomini making the call. The game will also be broadcast live on KLIV 1590 AM and the Bronco website, SantaClaraBroncos.com, as part of the Bronco Radio Network. Anthony Passarelli is in his eighth season as the Broncos' play-by-play announcer.
Santa Clara is 8-10 and 2-4 in the WCC. Santa Clara is 5-3 at home this season, including 1-2 in the WCC. USF is also 8-10 and 2-4 in the WCC. The Dons are 2-4 on the road this season, including 2-2 in league play.
Santa Clara started the week with the toughest strength of schedule in the West Coast Conference (games through Jan. 12 - FII). The Broncos are No. 45, BYU is No. 47 and No. 3 Gonzaga is No. 49. The Broncos are also No. 3 in non-conference strength of schedule, following behind BYU and Gonzaga.
Santa Clara and USF will meet for the 215th time overall and the first time this season. SCU leads the all-time series 111-103. USF swept the series last season, winning 69-63 in Santa Clara on Feb. 15, 2014 after taking a 69-63 victory in San Francisco on Jan. 25, 2014. The year before the Broncos swept the regular season series against the Dons for the first time since 2008.
Since the formation of what is now the WCC in 1952-53, Santa Clara and USF have played 137 times with SCU holding a 69-68 lead in all games. USF leads 63-61 in regular season conference action with Santa Clara holding a 4-2 lead in WCC tournament games. SCU won the only postseason tournament matchup, 95-91, at USF on Mar. 22, 2011 in the CollegeInsider.com Tournament and the two team's have split six Cable Car Classic games. Santa Clara and USF are two of three original conference members, along with Saint Mary's, and the two played the first conference game at the Cow Palace on Jan. 6, 1953 with USF posting a 59-48 win.
Kerry Keating posted his first career WCC road win at USF on Jan. 28, 2008 and is 8-8 all-time vs. USF. Denzel Johnson has two of his three career 20-point games vs. USF. He scored a career-high 26 points (1/26/12) and added 20 in the next game (2/9/12). Jared Brownridge had back-to-back 30 point performances vs. BYU (1-18-14) and at USF (1-25-14) last season. He hit five threes on the Hilltop and was nine of 10 from the line.
Cutting the lead to just one at 5:48, No. 6/7 Gonzaga outscored the Broncos 14-2 to end the first half as Santa Clara fell 79-57 in Spokane on Jan. 10 at the McCarthey Center. Bronco freshman Matt Hubbard, who grew up less than an hour away in Colville, Wash., tied a career-high with 15, including a career-best five threes. Jared Brownridge added 14 and Denzel Johnson 10. Brandon Clark led the Broncos with seven boards, but scored just four on 2 of 9 shooting from the field.
Gonzaga had four players score double figures, including Przemek Karnowski, who led the Zags with 18 points and nine boards.
With Devin Watson scoring a career-high 21 points, USF won 89-77 in Portland on Jan. 10. It was the Dons fifth straight win in the Chiles Center and their ninth win in 10 tries against Portland. USF hit 11 of 24 threes and added 28 of 32 free throws attempted. Scoring 20 points, Kevin Bailey continued his successful return from foot troubles for the Pilots. Prior to the game at Portland, USF had lost four straight, including back-to-back losses of 31 points each (at No. 6/7 GU, 88-57, 1-8; vs. BYU, 99-68, 1-3).
Top Scoring Back-Court in the WCC Returns
The Broncos return the WCC's top-scoring back-court in Brandon Clark and Jared Brownridge. Clark is averaging 15.1 ppg after scoring 16.9 ppg in 2013-14. Brownridge is averaging 13.9 ppg after leading the team with 17.2 ppg last year. Both have scored in double figures 14 times this year and each have led the team in scoring eight times as well. Matt Hubbard has led the team in scoring twice and Nate Kratch once. Denzel Johnson and Jalen Richard both had a team-high 13 points at Portland to finish out the game scoring leaders.
Building on 60
Brandon Clark has started 55 of his 119 career games. Clark has scored 20+ points in six games this season, including 24 at Saint Mary's on Dec. 27. Clark has scored double figures 60 times in his career, including 19 games with 20 or more points the past two years. His first two seasons he never scored more than 19. He also scored 30 or more three times during his career, including a season-high 31 points vs. CSU-F on Nov. 14.
Clark had his streak of 25 straight games in double figures snapped at Utah State when he scored nine. The streak 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).
Matt Hubbard is the only Bronco on the active roster with a double-double. With 12 points and a career-high 11 boards, he snared the first of his career vs. San Diego on Jan. 3. With almost 60 family and friends in the stands, Hubbard tied a career-high with 15 points at No. 6/7 Gonzaga on Jan. 10, matching his output at Pacific on Dec. 29. He made five threes in nine tries up at the Kennel, also personal bests. Starting 16 games this season, he leads the team with 4.8 rpg.
As a youngster, Hubbard was like many children, competing in a variety of sports including basketball, baseball, soccer, football and swimming. Hubbard proved to be quite a swimmer at a young age. Living close to the Canadian border, he traveled 25 miles north with his team, the Colville Sharks, for swim meets as part of the British Columbia Summer Swimming Association. As an eight year old he won the Canadian district meet in three events to advance to the Provincial Championships in Burnaby, B.C. At the National meet in August of 2004, Hubbard wore a U.S.A. swimming cap and won both the 50m breaststroke and 50m freestyle titles and finished fourth in the 100 freestyle. "I played a lot of sports. I really liked basketball and after awhile I got tired of swimming," said Hubbard. But said he does wonder what might have happened if he had stuck with it.
The 2014 WCC Newcomer of the Year, Jared Brownridge has started each of his 51 career games he has played. He has scored double figures 40 times and has not been held scoreless in a single game.
He led the team with 95 three pointers a year ago and has already hit 48 this season, giving him 143 in his career, good enough for No. 9 on the Bronco career list. He needs 23 to pass No. 8 Brian Jones (165, 1996-01). He was 0-5 from beyond the arc vs. San Diego on Jan. 3. The last time he went without a three: he was 0-6 beyond the arc at BYU on Feb. 16, 2014. He has hit at least one three in 44 of his 48 career games (no 3s: 0-5 vs. San Diego 1-13-15; 0-6 at BYU 2-16-14; 0-1 vs. Gonzaga 1-29-14; and 0-3 vs. Sacred Heart 12-18-13).
His 567 points last year scored shattered the SCU freshman record and placed him at No. 2 all-time in points scored for a Bay Area freshman (list includes SCU, Stanford, Cal, Saint Mary's, San Francisco and Pacific). He finished his freshman year with 24 points vs. Gonzaga in the WCC quarters, as the Broncos fell 77-75 on a last second layup by the Zags' David Stockton.
A preseason All-WCC pick, Brownridge has scored 30+ points three times, all last year. He has scored 20+ points 17 times in his career, including three straight games earlier this season (vs. Rider, at SJSU and vs. Washington State). He has scored five or more threes seven times in his career, including seven twice last year (7 vs. La Sierra, 12/14/13 and 7 at Pepperdine, 3-1-14). He set seven SCU freshman season records and three game records last year.
Brownridge works as an EyeBronco reporter for the SCU Media Relations office and hosts his own series: "Long Walks With Jared". With a couple cameras filming their conversation, Brownridge walks around the picturesque Mission campus interviewing his subject. He is scheduled to interview WCC Commissioner Lynn Holzman next week. He has interviewed teammates Dominic Romeo and Brandon Clark; and Dec. 19 he interviewed the SCU President, Father Michael Engh.
Brandon Clark is just the sixth player in school history to score 1,300+ career points and dish out 356+ career assists, joining Kevin Foster, Brian Jones, Steve Nash, Evan Roquemore and Kyle Bailey. He became the 20th Bronco in school history to score 1,300 points when he added 22 vs. St. Katherine on Tuesday. He needs 87 points to pass No. 15 Nick Vanos (1,399, 1981-85). Clark joined the 1,000 career points scored list last season when he scored 18 points at Pepperdine on March 1, 2014. He is moving up four other career lists as well. Clark is No. 10 on the career list with 140 threes made; No. 9 on the career threes attempted with 400; and No. 10 with 356 career assists. With three more games played he will jump into the top 10 list in that category as well, tying Brody Angley (2004-08) and Burley (1985-89) at 122 career games played.
He was six of six from the free throw line vs. San Diego on Jan. 3, making four key free throws in the final 47 seconds to seal the victory. Clark is No. 3 all-time in free throw percentage. He has made 343 of 410 free throws attempted, good for 83.7 percent. The school record is held by Steve Nash (86.1 percent, 1991-96).
Clark was named the WCC Player of the Week on Nov. 17, 2014. He 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. CSU Fullerton on Nov. 14. He had four career bests on the weekend as well. 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. He scored 21 points vs. SDC on Nov. 15, collecting a career-high nine assists.
Nate Kratch came off the bench the first 12 games, but has started the past six. He had career highs in both rebounds (11) and blocks (4) at Pacific on Dec. 27. He scored a career-high 15 points off the bench on Dec. 20 vs. Northeastern. His previous career high 11 points at Cal Poly on Dec. 7, 2013. He was seven of 10 from the free throw line, also career bests. He has hit a career-high five field goals twice this year (vs. San Diego and at Portland). He also played a career-high 33 minutes in Portland.
Kratch made his first three on his first attempt in his first game for the Broncos last year. 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. His paternal grandfather played baseball at Long Island University and two Kratch Uncles played football at Cornell and Central College.
Starting every game this season, Denzel Johnson is averaging 8.3 ppg. He has scored double figures eight times this season, including a season-high 15 points vs. Cal State Fullerton on Nov. 14. His 26 steals lead the Broncos. He is No. 2 on the team with 563 minutes played, behind Jared Brownridge's 599 minutes played. Johnson played in his 100th career game on Jan. 3 vs. San Diego. He has made 29 starts during his four-year career. A versatile guard, he started 10 games his freshman year and then just one his junior year.
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 enjoys his time in front of the camera. Johnson is in his third year of working as an EyeBronco reporter for SCU Media Relations. He is in his second year of hosting Bronco Weekly Sports Wrap, a weekly YouTube show on Bronco Athletics (youtube.com/EyeBronco).
Andrew Papenfus, recovering brain surgery in October to remove a tumor, began practicing with the team again on Jan. 7, 2015 and is hoping to play soon.
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 quickly graduated from basic physical therapy, he couldn't move his right foot after surgery, to sports rehabilitation.