No doubt about it, Santa Clara is shooting for a turnaround this year and it has the right recipe to do so with five experienced seniors returning, including All-WCC fifth-year seniors Marc Trasolini and Kevin Foster. Santa Clara's five seniors are Trasolini, Foster, Niyi Harrison, Raymond Cowels III and Kyle Perricone. Santa Clara also returns all 12 letterwinners, including five starters.
Opening the 2012-13 college basketball season with an energy-filled practice on Fri., Oct. 12, Santa Clara has practiced seven times since (including Wednesday) and Bronco head coach Kerry Keating is pleased with the effort. Ruff Riders and Bronco friends, family and alums are invited to the Red & White Scrimmage on Sat., Oct. 19. The scrimmage will take place immediately following Santa Clara's volleyball match with No. 16 BYU which begins at 1 pm (scrimmage will begin between 3 and 4 pm).
Keating likes the idea of the Red & White Scrimmage because it gives the team and coaches the chance to prepare as if it's a real game even though it's just the 10th practice this season. In addition to assessment by the coaching staff, it allows the team extensive time in live action with officials on the floor.
"We will put them in certain situations to see who works where. We look forward to having a lot of Ruff Riders in the stands to cheer them on," said Keating. "This type of scrimmage will be happening all across the country this weekend on college basketball courts. We are excited for our students to be able to see their fellow students play. We want them to see how hard they have worked and how much they have grown. We need our Ruff Riders out in mass this year for our 19 home games. They give us a huge lift."
After playing last season with no seniors, Santa Clara is excited to welcome five back this year and Keating added that practice is really different with five seniors in the gym. "It's nice to have seniors out there, Kyle included, who has a huge role on the team," said Keating. "All of them are contributing as seniors, by example, vocally or off the court or a combination of all three. We are all excited for them to have a great senior season."
"The guys have had a long summer. There is a lot of nervous energy the first day and it's good to get back on the courts officially the last few days. We had team practices in the summer and fall with the new NCAA rules, but it's good to be back out there, especially with Marc and Kevin in the line-up."
Trasolini, a co-captain, was forced to sit out the 2011-12 campaign after he tore his ACL in September, 2011 in front of his family in the first game of the team's foreign tour to his hometown of Vancouver, Canada. Trasolini, named to the All-WCC Honorable Mention team his sophomore year, averaged 12.8 ppg and 6.1 rpg in 2010-11. He was named to the CIT All-Tournament team for his efforts on the CIT championship team. Trasolini, who enters this season with 1,100 points, was the 29th player in school history to score 1000+ career points on Feb. 26, 2011. Trasolini finished his degree in finance in March of 2012 with a 3.62 grade point average in Finance, graduating Cum Laude, and is now already well into his MBA at Santa Clara.
Everyone is excited about the progress Trasolini has made and Keating said he is back at full strength after doing a great job with his rehab. "I am sure he has a lot of anxiety about playing again, playing in games, but in the meantime he is not saving any effort for the games. He is making a good effort in practice," said Keating.
Foster, who led the nation in threes made and threes attempted in 2011, opens this year just 46 points shy of breaking the school record by former WCC Player of the Year and All-American Kurt Rambis. Rambis tallied 1,736 from 1976-80. Rambis went on to win four NBA Championship titles as a member of the Los Angeles Lakers. Early last season Foster broke former WCC Player of the Year and two-time NBA MVP Steve Nash's school record for career threes (263) in addition to breaking the single season West Coast Conference threes record with 140 in 2011. Foster, a First-Team All-WCC player in 2011 after being named the WCC Newcomer of the Year in 2009, is down 29 pounds and looks ready to roll again this season.
Cowels III, a co-captain, was the only Bronco to start all 30 games last season. Cowels III averaged double digits with 10.1 ppg last year, grabbing 3.5 rpg. A hard-nosed shooter from Minnesota who scored double figures in eight of the last 10 games of the season in 2012, Cowels III had a season-best 22 points at LMU on Feb. 25, 2012.
Perricone, a Gunn High School graduate from nearby Palo Alto, is in his fourth season as a walk-on with the Broncos. The Bio-Engineering major played in 15 games last season and Keating has said in the past that "pound for pound Kyle is our strongest player."
The Broncos have some of the better back-court players with seven guards returning, including Foster, Cowels III and Perricone. Also returning this season to play guard are juniors Evan Roquemore and Julian Clarke and sophomores Denzel Johnson and Brandon Clark. Roquemore scored 12.7 ppg last year. Named the WCC Player of the Week on Nov. 28, 2011, he collected 158 assists last year, which is No. 5 all-time on the Broncos single season list. He led the team in points scored, minutes played, field goals and free throws.
Johnson started 10 games in 2011-12, scoring 6.2 ppg. He dumped in a career-best 26 points off the bench vs. USF on Jan. 26, 2012. Clark (BC) averaged 7.0 ppg, playing in all 30 games with four starts. Clarke (JC) played in 26 games with two starts.
The Broncos are deep at the forward spot as well with Trasolini, Harrison, John McArthur, Yannick Atanga and Nate Kratch. Atanga, a 6-8 forward from Yaounde, Cameroon, sports a 7 3 1/2 wing-span. Atanga scored 3.1 and 5.3 rpg in 2011-12. McArthur, who graduated in 2011 from famed local high school, De La Salle, started 26 of the 27 games he played in last year and scored 5.6 ppg with 4.2 rpg.
"We have five sophomores who all have different roles. We should have a good expectation of what it takes to get better and play at a high-level to improve," said Keating. "Four of the sophomores were able to take advantage of their summer here. Yannick went home to Cameroon for 40 days and he has overcome the mental stress of being away for so long so far away. Each has come back and improved in their own right."
The Broncos center is sophomore Robert Garrett, a seven-footer from Vallejo, Calif. Garrett saw action in 28 games last season. He has put on 25 pounds in the off-season and is looking for a monster sophomore campaign.
The only freshman on the team this year is Kratch, a 6-6 forward from Watertown, Minn. His senior year at Watertown-Mayer he averaged 20 ppg, 14 rpg and 6 bpg. He collected 1,000+ points, 1,000+ rebounds and 500+ blocked shots in high school.
Off the court, Keating likes the progress that Cowels III, Trasolini and Perricone are making as academic captains as well. "We expect Niyi and Kevin in addition to Ray and Marc, to utilize their extensive experience to make sure we have great leadership this year," said Keating.