Michael Santos: Working to Lead On and Off the Court

By Morgan Dyrek `10 (Santa Clara Student Assistant)

Morgan Dyrek is visiting with a number of the Bronco men's basketball players for behind-the-scenes looks at each player. Dyrek, a Ruff Rider, will graduate in March of 2010 and has law school aspirations.

It is not often that the oldest players on a collegiate athletic team are juniors. As one of three juniors on the Bronco basketball team, Michael Santos has not only become an integral player on this team, he has assumed an almost more important role on the men's team.

Santos was a recruited walk-on and was awarded an athletic scholarship after his freshman season. While he certainly earned this scholarship and has been a great asset to this team--starting the last seven games and averaging a 6.1 points, 2.8 rebounds and 1.2 assists per game this season, also hitting a career best of 7 of 10 from the free throw line at his last game against LMU--he above all else is a leader. "It is what it is. I cannot wish for seniors because we don't have any. It's now our role to lead the team and be an example for the underclassmen. The underclassmen look to us--the more experienced players--and as a result do not have to rely as much on the coaches. It actually is nice to know that everyone will be back next year," Santos explained of his role on this team.

While his maturity on the court is remarkable, perhaps it runs in the family; basketball runs in Santos' blood. He followed in the paths of both his mother and father by playing collegiate basketball, though both parents played at USF. Santos explained, "There was never any pressure to go anywhere," when asked about his family's response to his decision. "They supported me and encouraged me to go wherever I had the opportunity to play." He went on to say that the USF game has no greater importance than any other, "The most important game is the next one on the schedule."

Clearly, Santos puts his team first.

He is only a humble and selfless player, he is extremely versatile. He has played nearly every position on the court for this team, which is not only indicative of his skill but also, and perhaps more importantly, the amount of trust his coaches have in him. When asked which position he would consistently play if given the opportunity, he was taken aback by the question (more proof of his modest temperament.) After much thought he replied with a wing player but went on to say, "I'll play whatever is needed to help the team win. That's my role and I do what I need to do. I need to know how to play all the other positions so I can help out the younger players." Santos has high expectations of his team for the remainder of this season and those to come. "I want to take these last 10 conference games and make it a 10-game season. We need to do the best we can to end on a positive note with as many wins as possible. We need to continue to improve on and off the court. We're going to focus less on our strengths and more on our weaknesses. We're going to `do more.' That's our motto this year whether it's stepping up on the court or doing one more rep in the weight room--we're going to `do more.' And this will carry on with all of us in the offseason to improve for next year."

When asked what his favorite memory has been at Santa Clara thus far, he responded with the win over St. Mary's last year. "We had a great crowd and we got to watch our seniors John Bryant and Calvin Johnson go out with a great victory." He spoke of his appreciation of the Ruff Riders and SCU basketball fans in general saying, "Thank you. You all have been great the past three years I have been here, especially at home games. Please continue to come out and support us. Be our sixth man please!"

Santos has higher expectations for himself for the remainder of his basketball career. With professional aspirations and a high collegiate goal of winning a conference championship, Santos' determination and belief in himself and his team is inspiring and refreshing. As a Business Management major and Political Science minor, and one of the nicest and most well-spoken individuals I have interviewed, post-basketball success for Santos is also expected.

In any avenue, Michael Santos will not disappoint.