When you think of speed, Usain Bolt and Chris Johnson come to mind. Next on that list may be Santa Clara men's water polo player James Case. An All-American swimmer in high school, James has learned how to apply his speed towards his game at the college level.
SCU: Coming from the East coast where water polo is not played as much, was it difficult to make the transition to the college game?
JC: It wasn't as much of transitioning to the college game that was that was tough because my speed made the 25 yard to 30 meter change actually an advantage of mine. The toughest part for me was just learning fundamentals and technical parts of the game that I was never taught on the East coast. My coach in high school never played water polo and for most of my age group club teams, my dad was my coach and he never had seen a water polo game until my first game in college. Freshman year I found myself out of position without really a clue to what was going on. Coach Wilbur has been great with teaching me the X's and O's of the game. My teammates have been paramount to me with shooting and faking techniques as I look to mimic all of the things that they do that makes them so successful.
SCU: The Broncos lost some key outside shooters including the Bronco's all time leader in goals Jack Wall, Liam Farrell and Mark Soares. How is this year's team different in terms of offense?
JC: This past summer we really worked on setting up our teammates and getting the person the ball with the best chance of scoring not necessarily the person with the best shot. We have a lot of people that can put the ball in the back of the net so our opponents are never going to know who is going to take the shot.
SCU: Last year was a successful year for the Santa Clara men's water polo program, posting a school record 22 wins. Was there a favorite game or memory that you had from last season?
JC: My favorite moments from last year are playing the top four teams in the country. My freshman year we really would roll over and let those teams run up the score on us, but this year especially against Cal and UCLA, we have really given these teams a run for their money and our confidence and demeanor during these games are so much different than they were two years ago. I'm excited moving on as our team continues to get better and these games with the best teams in the country get even closer.
SCU: Coach Wilbur described your game as being centered around your speed, quickness and acceleration. How do you use those attributes to be so successful in the pool?
JC: I try to use my speed to my advantage as much as possible and in every aspect of the game whether it is counter-attacking, sneaking up behind someone to steal the ball, or running down someone on the fast break. One thing that I have really worked on is fronting the hole man. I obviously can't wrestle the hole man out of position like our main hole-d man Mitch Klipa can but rather I can swim him out of position. I love using my speed to swim, spin around and get position. I feel like this is a lot more frustrating for the offensive player because I am taking his physical advantage out of the game.
SCU: Football season is now in full swing. Who is your pick to win the Vince Lombardi trophy this season?
JC: As my teammates know I'm an avid New York Jets fan and there is no way I could pick against them this year. Their No. 1 defense just got better and Mark Sanchez is going to grow into a great quarterback especially with all of the new weapons placed around him. Look for Gang Green to win it all.