In the middle of a three-game road swing, Santa Clara travels to San Francisco to take on the Dons at 8 pm on Thurs, Feb. 9. The game will be televised nationally on ESPNU with Mark Neely and Miles Simon making the call. The Broncos next three of four games will be shown nationally on ESPNU (at USF Feb. 9, vs. Gonzaga Feb. 16 and vs. BYU Feb. 18). The other game, at No. 13 Saint Mary's on Sat., Feb. 11, will be shown on Comcast California.
Santa Clara is averaging 70.8 ppg, including 69.5 ppg in league play. The Broncos are giving up 74.7 ppg, including 82.1 ppg in league play. Its first eight losses in the West Coast Conference this season were by double digits, but they tightened the point differential by six vs. Portland (fell 84-78) and five at San Diego (70-65).
Santa Clara continues to be without the services of leading scorer Kevin Foster. As a result of an incident Jan. 21, Foster will be withheld from competition pending the outcome of the University's student judicial process (he also missed the LMU, USF, Pepperdine, Portland and San Diego games).
San Francisco is 15-10 this season, including 5-6 in the WCC and 10-2 at home. USF led by 19 points with a little more than three minutes to go in the first half (3:04) and in spite of four starters scoring in double figures, including Rashad Green posting 24, USF was topped 90-88 by LMU in LA on Feb. 4.
San Francisco is averaging 75.2 ppg, including 76.7 ppg in league play. It's giving up 70.4 ppg, including 76.1 ppg in league play. It has four players averaging double figures: Angelo Caloiaro (14.5 ppg), Perris Blackwell (12.0 ppg), Rashad Green (11.7 ppg) and Michael Willams (11.0 ppg). Caloiaro is also the team's leading rebounder with 6.1.
Look and Listen
The USF game will be televised nationally on ESPNU with Mark Neely and Miles Simon making the call. Tip-off is set for 8:05 pm.
The USF game will also be broadcast via the Bronco Radio Network on both KDOW 1220 AM and Broncos All-Access at www.SantaClaraBroncos.com with the broadcast beginning at 7:45 p.m. on KDOW 1220AM. Anthony Passarelli is in his fifth season as the Broncos' play-by-play announcer. Out of the listening area, KDOW is streamed online at www.1220kdow.com.
This is the 210th meeting between the two Bay Area rivals dating back to Jan. 22, 1909 when Santa Clara won 19-11. SCU leads the all-time series 109-100, with USF leading 51-44 in its home gym. Santa Clara has won nine of the last 14 games against USF, dating back to Feb., 2006. Santa Clara has only played Saint Mary's more times than the Dons and sport a 131-80 record vs. the Gaels.
Santa Clara fell 90-77 to San Francisco on Jan. 26 in the Leavey Center. It was rookie Denzel Johnson's coming out party as a Bronco. The true freshman from Fresno scored 26 points off the bench on 12 of 18 shooting (no free throws, 2 of 5 from three), adding three assists and one turnover in 34 minutes. Niyi Harrison added 13 points and five rebounds. Evan Roquemore tossed in 10 with six assists.
Santa Clara dropped both games to the Dons last season during the regular season, but got the best of them in the post-season. Santa Clara defeated San Francisco March 22, 2011 in a hard-fought war, coming out on top 95-91 in the quarterfinals of the CIT. Santa Clara advanced to the finals of the CIT with a 72-55 semi-finals win over SMU in Dallas on March 25. They won the 2011 CIT title with a 76-69 victory at Iona on March 30, 2011.
Scoring 95 points in the CIT quarterfinals in War Memorial Gym on March 22, 2011 Santa Clara was 10-0 when it scored 80+ last season. Its 45 points in the first half were the most for SCU since it scored 46 vs. Bethany on Jan. 3, 2011. Its 50 points in the second half were the most since it scored 60 points at CSU-Northridge on Dec. 22, 2010. The Broncos scored 90+ points in four games last season for the first time since 1990-91. The six turnovers vs. the Dons were the fewest turnovers Santa Clara has had since it turned the ball over five times vs. Saint Mary's Feb. 2, 2005.
Individually at USF Santa Clara was led by a career-high 30 points by Evan Roquemore, including key free throws at the end of the game. Kevin Foster followed up with 27 points, hitting 12 of 15 from the free throw line, with a team-high five assists. Troy Payne added 12 points and nine rebounds and Ben Dowdell scored 11.
Need a Rabbit's Foot
Looking back for a second, Santa Clara finished last season 24-14 and won the post-season CIT with All-WCC guard Kevin Foster collecting MVP honors.
The Bad News: Santa Clara lost a couple important parts of the 2011-12 team within about 40 hours on two different continents in early September. First, signee/sophomore transfer Chris Caird suffered a torn ACL/MCL on Sept. 4 playing pick up in Iceland prior to the joining the team on Sept. 11. He was expected to play a key role for the Broncos this year. Due to the surgery and recovery, he didn't come to Santa Clara this year. Then on Sept. 6, All-WCC junior forward Marc Trasolini suffered a torn ACL in the first two minutes of Santa Clara's first game of its foreign tour in Trasolini's hometown of Vancouver at Trinity Western. Trasolini tore his ACL pushing off the ground on a five-foot jumper.
The Good News: Every Santa Clara player will return next season with the exception of senior walk-on Phillip Bach.
With that said, Santa Clara is one of the youngest teams in the country with its 11 scholarship players this season totalling just eight years of total court time (no seniors, three juniors, three sophomores and five freshmen). With no Foster in the lineup currently, Santa Clara now tallies six total years of court time with its 10 available scholarship players. Six Years! In addition to leadership, SCU is without its top three rebounders from last season (Trasolini and graduation of Ben Dowdell and WCC Defender of the Year Troy Payne).
At USF on Thursday night the Broncos will start two juniors, two sophomores and a freshman. The next five players off the bench, including walk-on Jordan Akwenuke, will all be freshmen. Five freshmen have started in the last five games, including Brandon Clark (started first career game vs. USF), Denzel Johnson (second career start at Pepperdine), Yannick Atanga (second career start vs. LMU), Robert Garett (first career start vs. LMU) and Julian Clarke (first career start vs. LMU).
The Broncos have three players averaging double figures: Kevin Foster leads team with 17.8 ppg, but he hasn't played since the Saint Mary's game on Jan. 21. Evan Roquemore scores 14.0 ppg and Niyi Harrison adds 10.7 ppg. Roquemore has a team-leading 5.3 apg. Harrison leads the team with 6.2 rpg and Yannick Atanga is second with 5.3 rpg.
Three Broncos average double figures in conference play with Foster leading with 15.6 ppg (but hasn't played since Jan. 21), Roquemore scores 13.4 ppg and Harrision collects 12.3 ppg. Harrison is the leading rebounder in league play with 5.4 rpg and Roquemore paces the team with 4.5 apg.
Johnson's 26 points off the bench vs. USF on Jan. 26 are the highest point total by a Bronco this season in a WCC game and he followed that up a week later with 18 points vs. Portland on Feb. 2 and then 20 at San Diego Feb. 4.
Harrison has 11 7+ rebound games this year, pulling down nine rebounds with a career-high 23 points vs. Saint Mary's. Raymond Cowels III has 3+ threes in 10 of the last 19 games, including a career-high six 3s vs. Villanova.
The Broncos are No. 35 nationally in threes per game and also lead the WCC. The Broncos have shot 527 three pointers this year and the opponents have shot 373. In return, the Broncos have made almost 50 threes more than their opponents (186 to 138 made). Of the 1,342 shots attempted by the Broncos this year, 39.2% have come beyond the arc and they hit 35.3 percent beyond the arc. The opponents are shooting 37.0 percent beyond the arc and 29.9 percent of their field goal attempts are coming from beyond the arc.
Santa Clara is playing at least eight games televised on the ESPN network during the 2011-12 regular season, with five ESPN games during West Coast Conference play. Santa Clara played on ESPNU at BYU on Jan. 14, falling 95-78 and again on Feb. 2 when it fell 84-78 to Portland. It has three more games on the ESPN network: at USF (Feb. 9, ESPNU), vs. Gonzaga (Feb. 16, ESPN2) and vs. BYU (Feb. 18, ESPNU). In addition to five league games on the ESPN network, Santa Clara was 2-1 on the ESPN network at the 76 Classic Nov. 24-27 with wins over New Mexico and Villanova sandwiched between a loss to Oklahoma.
Santa Clara has started seven different line-ups this season, with the line-up of Kevin Foster, Evan Roquemore, Raymond Cowels III, Niyi Harrison and John McArthur starting a major of the games (15).
Santa Clara's leading scorer has been one of six players this year. Only once in 23 games did the leading scorer come off the bench (26 points, Denzel Johnson, vs. USF, Jan. 26). Foster has led the team in scoring 10 times (including tied with Cowels III once), Roquemore five times, Harrison three times, Cowels III and Johnson both twice (with one of Cowel's leading-scoring games coming the night he and Foster scored 14 each vs. Pacifica). McArthur had led the team in scoring once this season. Roquemore has a team-high 27 points this season vs. Oklahoma on Nov. 25. Foster scored 26 points twice (vs. New Mexico and vs. Pacific) and Johnson scored 26 (vs. USF) once, a career high.
Santa Clara's leading rebounder has been Harrison, Atanga or McArthur every game, but the game at Gonzaga when Cowels III led the team with four rebounds. Harrison has led the team 10 times and been tied for the team-lead four other times. Atanga has led the team 10 times and been tied for the team lead three times. McArthur has led the team three times and been tied for the team lead two times.
Roquemore has led the team in assists 14 times this season. Foster has led the team in seven games and Brandon Clark three times (including once being tied with Roquemore).
The Broncos need to score 80+ points each night! The Broncos have scored in the 80s three times this season, winning all three games (vs. UC Merced, vs. San Jose State and vs. Pacifica). It is 23-2 under Coach Keating in five years when scoring 80+.
The Broncos have scored between 60 and 79 points 18 times this year and their record is 5-13 in those games, including 1-6 when scoring 60-69. Coach Keating's record when scoring between 60 and 79 points in his five years is 43-48. When the team has scored between 60 and 69 he is 21-32. When scoring between 70 and 79 points in a game, he is 22-16 at Santa Clara.
When scoring less than 60, the Broncos are 0-2 this season (56 at UC Santa Barbara and 55 at Washington State). When scoring less than 60 under Coach Keating, the Broncos are 7-35 in the last five years.
Combining points and rebounds, Niyi Harrison has three double-doubles in his career and John McArthur has two, both this season. Combining points and assists, Evan Roquemore has two with both coming this season.
Harrison has two double-double's this season: his first this season was in Santa Clara's 71-58 victory over Cal State Northridge when he scored 10 points and had 11 rebounds. His second this season was in the 75-55 win over Eastern Michigan on Dec. 29 when he collected 13 points and a career-high 13 rebounds. His first career double-double came during his freshman year against Northeastern on Dec. 29, 2009 when he finished with 13 points and 11 rebounds.
Harrison has "missed" a double-double three times this season with nine rebounds in those games. Those games: 10 points, nine rebounds vs. Wagner; 23 points, nine rebounds vs. then-No. 23 Saint Mary's and 11 points, nine rebounds vs. LMU.
McArthur's two double-doubles both came this season. He scored 19 points with 10 rebounds vs. San Jose State and then collected 12 points and 12 rebounds at Houston Baptist.
Roquemore's first career double-double was vs. Oklahoma when he scored 27 points and added 10 assists. He collected his second career double-double vs. Pacific when he scored 14 and dished out a career-high 11 assists.
Evan Roquemore is averaging 5.30 apg, including 4.50 apg in league play. Roquemore is No. 47 nationally in apg and he is No. 2 in apg in league play as well. He has collected 7+ assists in eight games this season and 4+ assists in 16 of 23 games. This season he is leading the team in assists with 122 overall.
Last season he broke the Bronco freshman assist record with 139, topping Brian Jones who scored 119 assists in 1996-97. He broke the freshman records for free throws made (159) and attempted (193) last season, coming .001 from tying Steve Nash's record for free throw percentage. Nash was 82.5 percent from the free throw line in 1992-93 and Roquemore was 82.4 percent (159 of 193) last season.
After being selected to the 76 Classic Five-Man All-Tournament team and leading the WCC in points and assists per game and free throw percentage, Roquemore was named the WCC Player of the Week on Nov. 28. Nationally he was also named the Lou Henson Award Co-Player of the Week and the Jesuit Men's Basketball Co-Player of the Week.
At the 76 Classic, the sophomore averaged 22.7 points and eight assists per contest, shooting 52% from the floor. His 24 total assists are a new 76 Classic tournament record. In addition to the assists, he shot 95.7 percent from the free throw line at the Classic, hitting 22 of 23. It is a first-time honor for the sophomore from Henderson, Nev.
On Thanksgiving weekend he led SCU to victories over New Mexico and Villanova, and a third-place finish at the 76 Classic. In the 79-76 OT win over pre-tournament favorite New Mexico, Roquemore poured in 26 points. Against Oklahoma, Roquemore posted a double-double with 27 points and 10 assists. He poured in 15 points and dished out nine assists in the 65-64 comeback win over Villanova. Santa Clara finished the final 2:56 minutes of the game on a 10-0 run to defeat the 'Cats with Roquemore hitting four clutch free throws with less than 10 seconds left to clinch the win.
RCIII: Will It Catch On?
Raymond Cowels III has had success from deep range with nine games of 3+ threes including six vs. Villanova. He has also shot 83.3 percent or better from the line in eight games, proving to be a reliable free-throw shooter.
After playing 24.0 mpg with 7.3 ppg his freshman year with 11 starts in 32 games, Cowels III played 15.3 mpg, scoring 5.4 ppg last season, including starting nine of the 37 games he played in. This season he has started each of the 23 games the Broncos have played this season, averaging a single-season high of 26.3 mpg. He hit a single- season high 46 threes in his rookie season and already has 43 threes this season. He is shooting a career-high 40.6 percent from beyond the arc.
Not Your Average Denzel
Much like then-freshman Kevin Foster scoring 31 points in his first WCC road game of his career at Saint Mary's on Jan. 9, 2009, freshman Denzel Johnson had a break-out performance of his own when he scored 26 points off the bench vs. USF on Jan. 26. In a career-high 34 minutes, Johnson was a career-best 12 of 18 from the field, including a career-best 2 of 5 from beyond the arc vs. the Dons. Even more amazing, he didn't shoot any free throws in the game. He followed that up with 18 points vs. Portland on Feb. 2 and then tallied 20 points at San Diego on Feb. 4.
Johnson was averaging 1.1 ppg after the Saint Mary's game on Jan. 21. Starting three of the last five games, Johnson has played double digit minutes in the past five games. Not playing in the Pacific and Houston Baptist games, he had played double digit minutes just four times prior to the LMU game Jan. 24 (18 vs. UC Merced, Nov. 11; 19 at UCSB, Nov. 15; 11 vs. SJSU, Nov. 19 and 18 vs. Pacifica, Dec. 13). In the last five games he has raised his average from 1.1 to 4.6 ppg and his mpg from 7.6 after the Jan. 21 game to 13.0 mpg prior to the USF game on Thursday.
Dial back until his birth. Johnson, like Denzel Washington, was supposed to be a girl. Well, at least that's what both sets of parents thought throughout the pregnancy so they never picked a boys name. So when the Johnson parents, CJ and Denise, had a son they were stuck. After some discussion in the hospital, they named their baby after the actor. A few years later CJ met Denzel Washington and he told him the story. Washington laughed and said his parents had the same problem (no boys name picked) so they named the actor after the doctor who brought him into the world.
Johnson's older brother Brandon is a senior point guard (5-11, 190) at Kentucky Wesleyan. The elder Johnson averages 12.0 ppg in 30.3 mpg and he has started all 21 games for the 18-3 Panthers. Kentucky Wesleyan was ranked No. 1 nationally in January after starting the season 14-0. They are currently ranked No. 7 nationally for the third straight week and it marks the 326th time the Panthers are in the Top 25 since the rankings started in 1961.
Athletics is in the Johnson family blood. Johnson's uncle Gary Payton played basketball at Oregon State and in the NBA with the Supersonics, Lakers and Heat. His cousin Travis Davis played football at Notre Dame and in the NFL for the Jaguars and Steelers
In the wake of Mark Trasolini's season-ending ACL tear, Niyi Harrison has stepped up and filled the front court void admirably. The 6-9 junior has started all but two games while grabbing 8+ rebounds in 11 of 23 contests including a career-high 13 vs. EMU. He has also made significant growth offensively, scoring in double figures 13 times including a career-high 23 vs. No. 23 Saint Mary's and 19 point games vs. New Mexico and at Portland. He leads the team with three career double-doubles, including two this season.
The team's starting center, John McArthur, has pulled down 4+ rebounds in 10 games including a career-best 12 boards at Houston Baptist. He has two double-doubles this season (vs. San Jose State and at Houston Baptist).
True freshman Robert Garrett and freshman-redshirt Yannick Atanga have both come off the bench to play inside as well. Atanga is the team's second-leading rebounder with 5.3 rpg. Garrett, who started the LMU game and collected a career-high three blocks vs. LMU vs. then-No. 23 Saint Mary's and at San Diego, has averaged 7.7 mpg in 21 games with 1.6 ppg and 1.6 rpg.