Santa Clara Finishes Tough Three-Game Road Swing at No. 13 Saint Mary's Saturday
Finishing its tough three game road swing, the opponent will get Santa Clara's attention quickly on Sat., Feb. 11 when it travels to Moraga to play its arch rival and the league's top team, No. 13 Saint Mary's. The game will be televised regionally on COMCAST with Ted Robinson and Dan Belluomini making the call.
The two long-time Bay Area rivals are playing for the 212th time in school history. Santa Clara leads the all-time series 131-80. Saint Mary's leads the series 34-30 in Moraga and is already 15-0 at home this season, including 6-0 in league play. The 212 meetings are the most the Broncos have faced a team in 105 years of Bronco basketball. Saint Mary's won its first meeting with the Broncos 21-18 on Feb. 26, 1910. Saint Mary's won both games during the regular season last year (at 84-59 on Jan. 15; vs. 65-59 on Feb. 10) and then defeated the Broncos 71-64 in the semi-finals of the WCC Tournament on March 6. Saint Mary's swept the season series in 2010 on the way to winning the WCC title and advancing to the NCAA Tournament's Sweet 16. The two teams won on their home floors to split the series in 2008-09.
Santa Clara is 8-16 and 0-11 in the WCC this season. The Broncos lost at USF 85-69 on Thursday despite shooting 51.9 percent from the field, including 60.9 percent from beyond the arc (14 of 23). Raymond Cowels III led the team with a season-high 21 points. Denzel Johnson added 20 and Evan Roquemore 14. Brandon Clark, Johnson and Roquemore all had four assists each and Niyi Harrison collected a team-high seven rebounds.
Santa Clara is averaging 70.7 ppg, including 69.5 ppg in league play. The Broncos are giving up 75.1 ppg, including 82.4 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 has missed the LMU, USF, Pepperdine, Portland, San Diego and USF games.
Saint Mary's, ranked No. 13 nationally earlier this week, is 22-3 and 11-1. Its perfect record in the WCC took a hit on Thursday night when the Gaels fell 73-59 at Gonzaga. Matthew Dellavedova scored 20 in the loss with Jordan Page adding 11 and Brad Waldow 10.
Saint Mary's is averaging 76.3 ppg, including 78.1 ppg in league play. It's giving up 61.4 ppg, including 66.2 ppg in league play. It has three players averaging double figures: Dellavedova scores 15.7 ppg, Rob Jones 14.6 and Stephen Holt 10.8. Jones is the team's leading rebounder with 10.6 and Dellavedova leads the league with 6.28 apg.
Look and Listen
The Saint Mary's game will be televised regionally on COMCAST with Ted Robinson and Dan Belluomini making the call. Tip-off is set for 8:05 pm.
The Saint Mary's 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.
Santa Clara hit 14 of 23 three-pointers on Thursday at USF. It was the third time this season it has hit 14 threes with the Broncos hitting 14 vs. Oklahoma on Nov. 25, 2011 and vs. UC Merced on Nov. 11, 2011. Sounds almost commonplace? Not so fast. It was one off tying the school record set by the Broncos on March 5, 2001 when they hit 15 vs. Gonzaga. The Broncos have hit 14 threes one other time in school history, at Pepperdine on Feb. 14, 2004.
Four players had three plus threes in the game. Denzel Johnson was 4 of 6 beyond the arc, Evan Roquemore was 4 of 8, Brandon Clark was 3 of 3 and Raymond Cowels III was 3 of 6.
On Thursday the Broncos were a season-low 1 of 3 from the free throw line as compared to USF's 15 of 23 effort. It was the fewest number of free throws made since it was 1 of 9 vs. Mississippi State on Dec. 20, 2003 in a 66-61 OT loss. It was the fewest free throws since it attempted three at LMU on Jan. 24, 1986 (was 2 of 3 in a 55-54 loss). The fewest under Keating previously: three made vs. San Diego on Feb. 23, 2008 and the fewest shot: five vs. Sacramento St. on Dec., 6, 2008.
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 started two juniors, one sophomores and two freshmen with Roquemore coming in the game after the first few minutes (sprained foot). The next four players off the bench, including walk-on Jordan Akwenuke, were all freshmen. Five freshmen have started in the last six 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 Garrett (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 10.4 ppg. Roquemore has a team-leading 5.25 apg. Harrison leads the team with 6.3 rpg and Yannick Atanga is second with 5.1 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 13.5 ppg and Harrison collects 11.6 ppg. Harrison is the leading rebounder in league play with 5.5 rpg and Roquemore paces the team with 4.45 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 and 20 at USF on Feb. 9.
Harrison has 12 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 11 of the last 20 games, including a career-high six 3s vs. Villanova.
The Broncos are No. 26 nationally in threes per game and also lead the WCC. The Broncos have shot 550 three pointers this year and the opponents have shot 394. In return, the Broncos have made more than 50 threes more than their opponents (200 to 146 made). Of the 1,394 shots attempted by the Broncos this year, 39.4% have come beyond the arc and they hit 36.4 percent beyond the arc. The opponents are shooting 37.1 percent beyond the arc and 29.2 percent of their field goal attempts are coming from beyond the arc.
Santa Clara has started eight different line-ups this season, including a new line-up on Thursday with Brandon Clark replacing Evan Roquemore due to a strained foot (Roquemore did play). The line-up of Kevin Foster, Roquemore, Raymond Cowels III, Niyi Harrison and John McArthur has started 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 and Cowels III (with one of Cowel's leading-scoring games coming the night he and Foster scored 14 each vs. Pacifica) and Johnson twice. 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 11 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 19 times this year and their record is 5-14 in those games, including 1-7 when scoring 60-69. Coach Keating's record when scoring between 60 and 79 points in his five years is 43-49. When the team has scored between 60 and 69 he is 21-33. 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.
RCIII: Will It Catch On?
Raymond Cowels III has had success from deep range with 10 games of 3+ three-pointers 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 24 games the Broncos have played this season, averaging a single-season high of 26.5 mpg. He hit a single- season high 46 threes in his rookie season and already has 46 threes this season. He is shooting a career-high 41.1 percent from beyond the arc.
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. He tallied 20 points at San Diego on Feb. 4 and 20 again at USF on Feb. 9. So rewinding, he has scored 20+ points in four of the last five games.
Johnson was averaging 1.1 ppg after the Saint Mary's game on Jan. 21. Starting the last four games, Johnson has played double digit minutes in the past six 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 six games he has raised his average from 1.1 to 5.3 ppg and his mpg from 7.6 after the Jan. 21 game to 14.0 mpg prior to the Saint Mary's game on Saturday.
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 22 games for the 18-4 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 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 5.1 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 7.6 mpg in 22 games with 1.5 ppg and 1.5 rpg.