February 24, 2012

Santa Clara Travels LMU For Last Regular Season Game of the Year on Saturday

Santa Clara will play its last regular season game in Los Angeles this weekend when it travels to LMU for an 8 pm contest on Sat., Feb. 25. The LMU game will be broadcast regionally on Fox Sports West/Comcast Sports Bay Area with Chris McGee and Mitch Butler making the call.  Tip-off is set for 8:05 pm. 

Santa Clara dropped a 74-62 game to LMU on Jan. 23.  Santa Clara swept the season series with the Lions last season, winning 79-72 in Los Angeles on Jan. 29 and then 94-88 in double overtime on Feb. 24 in the Leavey Center.  The Broncos also knocked them out of the 2011 WCC Tournament with a 76-68 victory on March 5 in Las Vegas.  

SCU is 83-52 vs. the Lions all-time with Santa Clara leading 39-25 at LMU.  Santa Clara is looking for its eighth win in 11 tries vs. the Lions, sweeping the season series three of last four years with the Lions sweeping the season series in 2009-10.

Santa Clara is expected to be without sophomore forward John McArthur again this weekend after he suffered a concussion after he was elbowed in the head early in the second half of the BYU game on Feb. 18.  McArthur didn't suit up vs. Pepperdine on Thursday and isn't expected to make the trip this weekend either. His status is day-to-day.  McArthur has started 26 games this season and averages 5.6 ppg and 4.2 rpg. 

Look and Listen 

The LMU game will be broadcast regionally on Fox Sports West/Comcast Sports Bay Area with Chris McGee and Mitch Butler making the call.  Tip-off is set for 8:05 pm.  The LMU 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 

Santa Clara is 8-20 and 0-15 in the WCC this season.  It has lost 16 straight dating back to its 75-55 win over Eastern Michigan on Dec. 29, 2011.  The losing streak started with a last-second miracle shot by Wagner on Dec. 30, 2011 as the Broncos fell 64-62 in the 45th annual Cable Car Classic Championship game.  It is the longest losing streak in school history.  

Santa Clara is looking to avoid becoming the first Bronco team in school history to go winless in league play.  The last team to lose each of its WCC regular season games: Saint Mary's went 0-14 in 2001.

Santa Clara finished its 2012 league home slate on Thursday when the Broncos fell 63-57 in the final minutes to Pepperdine.  Santa Clara dropped both nationally-televised games at home last week. On Feb. 16 it lost 73-62 to No. 23 Gonzaga and then 82-67 to BYU on Feb. 18.  Both games were sell-outs.

Santa Clara is averaging 69.6 ppg, including 67.8 ppg in league play. The Broncos are giving up 75.1 ppg, including 80.4 ppg in league play.  Santa Clara has lost 12 of its 15 WCC games by 10+ points.  It lost by five at San Diego on Feb. 4 and by six to Portland on Feb. 2 and then Pepperdine on Feb. 23.

The Broncos have two players averaging double figures: Roquemore scores 13.7 ppg and Harrison adds 10.6 ppg.  Roquemore has a team-leading 5.4 apg.  Harrison leads the team on the boards with 6.2 rpg and Yannick Atanga is second with 5.2 rpg.

Three Broncos average double figures in conference play as Roquemore scores 13.0 ppg, Harrison collects 11.6 ppg and Raymond Cowels III scores 10.7 ppg.  Harrison is the leading rebounder in league play with 5.6 rpg and Roquemore paces the team with 4.9 apg.  

Denzel Johnson's 26 points off the bench vs. USF on Jan. 26 are the highest point total by a Bronco this year in a WCC game.  He has scored 17+ in five of the last nine games, including 20 at USF on Feb. 9 and 17 at then-No. 13 Saint Mary's on Feb. 11.

Harrison has 16 6+ 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 13 games this season, including a career-high six 3s vs. Villanova and four vs. Pepperdine on Thursday.

As a result of an incident on Jan. 21, Kevin Foster was suspended by Santa Clara University for the remainder of the season.  Foster went  through the Santa Clara University student judicial process and the Office of Student Life informed Foster of the decision on Feb. 13.  Foster missed seven games during the process and as of Feb. 13, he is slated to miss the remaining four regular season games and the WCC Tournament.  Foster was the West Coast Conference's leading scorer with 17.8 ppg, including 3.56 threes per game. He was also No. 3 nationally in threes per game after leading the nation last year.

 The Competition

LMU is led on offense by the tandem of Anthony Ireland and Drew Viney.  They average 15.5 and 15.3 ppg, respectively. Ashley Hamilton (10.8 ppg) and Jarred DuBois (10.3 ppg) round out the Lions quartet of players averaging double figures. In addition to Viney (5.2 rpg) and Hamilton (5.1 rpg) putting the ball in the bucket, they are the top rebounders on the team.

It is no doubt who the go-to-guy is on offense for LMU. Ireland leads the team in field goals made (156), field goals attempted (353), three-pointers made (44), three-pointers attempted (124), free throws made (93), free throws attempted (123) and minutes per game (36.3). Despite being listed at just 5-10 he is also second on the team with 108 total rebounds.

As a team the Lions have been very good at winning the turnover battle. They have a +1.2 turnover margin in 2011-12 and a +0.9 mark in WCC games.  In a somewhat surprising twist, the Lions fare better on the road than at the Gersten Pavilion. On the season they are 9-3 on the road and only 9-8 at home. That mark gets more drastic in conference games where they are 7-1 away but 3-4 at home.

Turnovers

Santa Clara turned the ball over just seven times vs. No. 23 Gonzaga on Feb. 16, which tied a then-team-low under Coach Keating. The last time it turned the ball over seven times: it fell 63-62 on a last-second three by Patty Mills at Saint Mary's on Jan. 10, 2009. 

Topping that mark, Santa Clara turned the ball over just six times vs.Pepperdine in Thursday night's 63-57 loss to the Waves. It's the fewest turnovers under Keating and the least number of turnovers since Santa Clara turned it over five times in its 78-76 win at Saint Mary's on Feb. 11, 2005. 

Evan Roquemore

Evan Roquemore continued to impress from the free throw line against Pepperdine on Feb. 23. He went 6-7 from the stripe to put his season free throw percentage at .795 to lead the Broncos. It was the 13th game this season that Roquemore has shot over .800 from the free throw line this season.

Roquemore is averaging 5.36 apg, including 4.87 apg in league play.  Roquemore is No. 45 nationally in apg and he is No. 2 in apg in league play as well.  He has collected 7+ assists in nine games this season and 4+ assists in 20 of 28 games.  This season he is leading the team in assists with 150 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.

Almost, Double-Doubles

Niyi Harrison has been a monster on the boards for the Broncos in 2011-12, leading the team with an average of 6.2 per game. He is also third on the team with 10.6 ppg. Harrison has collected 6+ rebounds in 16 games this year.  Combining points and rebounds, 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 four 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; 11 points, nine rebounds vs. LMU and 11 points and nine rebounds vs. Pepperdine.

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. 

19

  Niyi Harrison started the BYU game and scored 19 points. Brandon Clark came off the bench and scored 19 points as well.  Harrison was 7 of 9 from the field and 5 of 8 from the free throw line.  B. Clark was 7 of 12 from the field, including 3 of 6 from beyond the arc and he made both free throw attempts.

The 19 points was a career-high for Clark. He has scored 10+ points six other times this season, with a career-high 16 points at Portland off the bench on Jan. 5.

It is the fourth time this season Harrison has scored 19+ points with his 23 points vs. Saint Mary's on Jan. 21 being his career high thus far.  Harrison also scored 19 in the win over New Mexico on Nov. 24 and the loss at Portland on Jan. 5.

Threes

  Santa Clara hit 14 of 23 three-pointers on Feb. 9 at USF.  It was the third time this season it has hit 14 threes with the Broncos hitting 14 vs. UC Merced on Nov. 11, 2011 and then vs. Oklahoma on Nov. 25, 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.  Prior to this season, Santa Clara had 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.

The Broncos are No. 33 nationally in threes per game and also lead the WCC with 8.1 threes made per game.  The Broncos have shot 539 three pointers this year and the opponents have shot 441.  In return, the Broncos have made exactly 65 threes more than their opponents (226 to 161 made).  Of the 1,624 shots attempted by the Broncos this year, 38.3% have come beyond the arc and they hit 36.3 percent beyond the arc.  The opponents are shooting 36.5 percent beyond the arc and 29.2 percent of their field goal attempts are coming from beyond the arc.

Quick Look Back

The Broncos were exceptional from beyond the arc against Gonzaga. Prior to the game, the Broncos were shooting .366 from beyond the arc but went 10-21 (.476) including 7-12 (.583) in the second half. Raymond Cowels III was 3-6, Brandon Clark went 2-4 and Evan Roquemore was 4-7. It was the third game in a row that Roquemore has shot .500 or better from three point land.

On the defensive side of the ball Santa Clara held the Bulldogs to only .333 from three, opposed to a .400 mark for the season, including .143 in the first half. The Zags had shot .367 from beyond the arc on the season.

Roquemore dropped 20+ points for the fourth time this season against the No. 23 Bulldogs. His 21 points and four three's matched his totals from the Broncos Feb. 9 game at USF. Before the USF game Roquemore had gone 17 games without scoring over 20.

Free Throws

After leading the nation in free throws last year, the Broncos have shot less free throws this year than the opponents have made.  Santa Clara's opponents are 542 of 748 from the free throw line, making 72.5 percent.  Santa Clara is 382 of 539 from the free throw line, hitting 70.9 percent.

On Feb. 9 at USF 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 Santa Clara 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.

The Third

Raymond Cowels III has stepped up his game recently. Against Pepperdine on Feb. 23 he went 5-12 from the field including 4-9 from three to lead the team with 15 points. It was the third game in a row he has scored in double figures and the sixth time he has accomplished the feat in the last eight games. In that same stretch he is 18-40 from three, good for a .450 shooting percentage from beyond the arc.

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 28 games the Broncos have played this season, averaging a single-season high of 27.2 mpg.  He hit a then-single-season high 46 threes in his rookie season and already has 55 threes. He is shooting a single-season high 41.7 percent from beyond the arc in 2011-12. In addition, he is the only Bronco to start every game this season.  

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 for the last seven games and now the rest of the season, Santa Clara now tallies six total years of court time with its 10 available scholarship players. Six Years!  Wait, with McArthur not suiting up that number dropped to a FIVE vs. Pepperdine.  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).

On Thursday night vs. Pepperdine the Broncos started senior walk-on Phillip Bach, two juniors, one sophomore and one freshman.  Brandon Clark and Denzel Johnson both started at USF and at No. 13 Saint Mary's.  The next five players off the bench, including walk-on Jordan Akwenuke, were all freshmen.  Five freshmen have started in the last nine 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).  

Our Manager!

With Chris Caird and Marc Trasolini lost for the season and Kevin Foster gone from competition since Jan. 21, Kerry Keating had to look down to the end of the bench for help when Evan Roquemore was slowed by a sprained foot the last two weeks. In stepped freshman Demetri Posey, a manager from Portland, Ore. Posey dressed for the first time at USF on Feb. 9 and will continue to dress the rest of the season.  A graduate of Central Catholic High School, Posey, 5-10 and 175 pounds, played less than a minute at USF on Feb. 9.