Basketball Opens Women's Play in Leavey Against Maryland

Dec. 26, 2000

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This Week Santa Clara's women's basketball (7-2) opens a five-game homestand in the reconstructed Leavey Event Center, beginning with three non-conference contests in the next week. The Broncos begin with Maryland on Wednesday, followed by 10th-ranked Texas Tech on Saturday, as part of a triple-header with the men's Cable Car Classic. Next Tuesday, Santa Clara will host Columbia in a twilight match before the Bronco men take on Murray State.

The Opponents Maryland is 8-2 on the season, winning its first six matches before falling at nationally-ranked Penn State 95-86. The Terrapins lost their second straight game four days later, at ACC rival North Carolina, but enters the game against Santa Clara with two straight wins. The team has three players averaging double digits in points, led by junior guard Marché Strickland's 14.9 mark.

Texas Tech is 8-1 on the year and will be the Broncos third and final ranked opponent in the regular season, as they are currently 10th. It's only loss came vs. North Carolina State at the Four in the Fall Classic in Austin, Texas. The Lady Raiders have four players with scoring averages in double digits and have outscored opponents by an average of 22 points.

Columbia is winless on the season at 0-6, but five of those losses have been by seven points or less. The Lions are led by Shawnee Pickney's 17.0 points per game and have not played since Dec. 9, a 55-53 loss to Fordham.

A Change of Scenery Santa Clara women's basketball unveils its newly renovated Leavey Event Center on Wednesday, Dec. 27, when the Broncos host Maryland at 7 p.m. The Broncos' home opener against the Terrapins will take place under a new roof surrounded by spectacular 23-foot glass walls, a new floor, new bleachers and a new suspended scoreboard.

"It's first class and it looks like a big-time arena when you drive by it," head coach Chris Denker said. "We're excited to play in it. It's going to be a great place to call home."

"We are thrilled to have an opportunity to provide a first-class playing facility such as the Leavey Center for our athletic teams," athletic director Cheryl Levick added. "This project is a cornerstone in our long-term plan to maintain a nationally-competitive athletics program."

The $11.75 million project, begun after the West Coast Conference tournament last spring and completed three weeks ago, is just the first phase of a two-year renovation of the 25-year-old Leavey Activities Center.

The first phase, highlighted by the removal of the famous "bubble" roof last spring, required SCU coaches and administrators to move into temporary quarters. The renovated basketball/volleyball arena replaces the former Harold J. Toso Pavilion.

The renovation's next phase beginning in 2001 will include new and expanded upper level seating, additional concession stands, a new athletic weight room and 25,000 square feet of athletic department office space.

Devcon Construction of Milpitas was the general contractor on the project.

Because of the renovation, the women's basketball team played two exhibition games and two of its first three games of the season at the gym at nearby Bellarmine Prep.

The Broncos will be shooting at new backboards, on a shiny, 14,000 square-foot floor, under the glow of 48 hanging lights and another 64 floodlights. Spectators in the floor sections will be sitting on 351 new chairback and 630 new bench seats, and concrete bleachers at both ends of the court have new, comfortable seats. The seating capacity of 5,000 at the Leavey Center has not changed. Spectators also may use expanded, renovated women's restrooms and new men's restrooms. A new elevator connects courtside to the second-floor entrance level.

During daylight hours, the teams' practices receive extra illumination through 20,700 square feet of quarter-inch-thick glass, in 1,008 wall sections that wrap around the large oval structure at the southeast end of the 104-acre campus. Approximately two-thirds of the glass panels are tinted to prevent glare.

A new scoreboard is a dominant feature of Leavey, with lights and video displays suspended 30 feet above center court from the steel support beams of the new 70,000-square-foot roof.

For information about individual, group and season tickets to Bronco basketball, please call 408-554-4660, or visit www.SantaClaraBroncos.com. For seating information, see http://graphics.fansonly.com/photos/schools/sacl/genrel/auto_pdf/leavey-seating-chart.pdf.

In the WCC The Broncos lead the West Coast Conference in rebounding defense, with 213 on the season for a 35.5 per game mark. Santa Clara is ranked second in rebounding margin, at plus-four, and in free-throw percentage, at .712, while ranking third in assists, averaging 15.17 per contest. Individually, junior Becki Ashbaugh leads the WCC in assists (6.50 pg) and is fifth in assist-to-turnover ration at 1.62. Senior Annie Garrison is first in blocked shots (1.83), second in rebounding (9.2) and 11th in scoring (12.7). Junior Caroline Gruening is second in three-point field goals made, averaging 2.50 pg. She is also seventh in three-pt FG percentage (.455) and 15th in scoring (12.3 pg). Senior Jen Glysson is also ranked, fourth in free throw percentage (15-17, .882) and sixth in rebounding (7.8). Sophomore Kendra Rhea rounds out SCU in the league marks as she is seventh in field goal percentage (.500) and 18th in scoring (10.5 pg).

RPI Update According to CollegeRPI.com, which simulates the RPI rankings the NCAA uses to determine at-large tournament bids at the end of the year, Santa Clara is currently ranked 56th. As a league, the West Coast Conference ranks 10th, as Pepperdine (46th), Saint Mary's (74th), Loyola Marymount (80th) and Portland (94th) are also ranked in the top 100.

Head Coach Chris Denker Entering his first season as head coach, Chris Denker (Oregon '90) is no stranger to Santa Clara basketball. Serving as an assistant coach on Caren Horstmeyer's staff for the last seven years, Denker becomes only the sixth head coach in the 36-year history of the program. Under Horstmeyer, Denker was the top recruiting and offensive coordinator. His teams amassed a 137-64 (.682) overall record, including a 69-29 (.704) mark in West Coast Conference play. The Broncos have also won three WCC Championships under his watch and advanced to the postseason four times. He inherits a squad that returns 11 letterwinners and three starters from a 1999-2000 team that went 21-9 and participated in the Women's National Invitation Tournament. He has also been an assistant coach Idaho State University and South Eugene (Ore.) High School. As a collegiate player, Denker lettered in basketball as a freshman at Boise State University before transferring to Linn Benton Community College the next year. At Linn Benton, he served as the basketball team captain and earned honorable mention all-league recognition in 1987.