Nov. 11, 2008
If there is any team in the conference that could break up the WCC's big three and earn a top three finish it is the Santa Clara Broncos, who finished fourth in the standings last year. The Broncos, selected fourth in the WCC Preseason Coaches poll, are the unanimous pick among the preseason prognosticators as the dark horse in the conference.
The main reason for optimism on the Santa Clara campus is the return of senior center John Bryant, arguably the most dominant big man in the conference. The 6-11 Bryant has undergone a dramatic transformation during his four years at Santa Clara. The San Pablo, CA native entered college at over 350 pounds, but has slimmed down to 275 entering his senior season.
Second-year Head Coach Kerry Keating welcomes back five letterwinners overall, including three starters. The Broncos will have a much different look this season as Santa Clara brings in eight newcomers, tied with Pepperdine for the most new faces in the conference.
What will probably look the same is the Broncos commitement on the defensive end. For the second straight year, Santa Clara was the top defensive team in the WCC, allowing opponents to only score an average of 61.4 points per game. In addition, the Broncos limited opponents to just 41.3 percent from the field, the third lowest clip in the conference.
2007-08 KEY STATS
||18.0 ppg, 9.6 rpg, 76 blocks|
||8.1 ppg, 3.8 apg, 50.9 FG percent|
||4.6 ppg, 1.3 rpg, 39.8 3-PT FG percent|
|SANTA CLARA BACKCOURT|
The most likely candidate to take over the point guard spot is junior college transfer Perry Petty, a 6-0 junior guard from Allen County Community College in Burlingame, Kansas. Petty tossed in 17 points, dished four assists, and swiped five steals in the Broncos' 93-65 exhibition win over Cal State Monterey Bay.
The Broncos should receive leadership from senior guard Calvin Johnson, one of only two seniors on the SCU roster. Johnson, who started 18-of-29 games last season, was one of the most accurate three-point shooters in the conference, knocking down .398 percent of his attempts beyond the arc.
A trio of freshmen gives the Broncos additional depth at the guard position. Freshmen Troy Alexander (6-1), Kevin Foster (6-2), and James Rahon (6-4) should compete for playing time and give Coach Keating several different options in the backcourt.
|SANTA CLARA FRONTCOURT|
Sophomore forward Ben Dowdell enjoyed a solid freshman campaign, making 29 starts and ranking fourth on the team with 8.1 points per game. Dowdell ranked third on the team in minutes (29.7 mpg) and second in FG percentage (50.9). He gained valuable experience last season as he set the freshman school record for minutes played last year (890).
The Broncos add three newcomers to the frontcourt in junior transfer Decensae White (Texas Tech), Freshmen-redshirt Scott Thompson and freshman Marc Trasolini. White will be eligible to play after the fall quarter due to NCAA transfer rules. Trasolini continues the long tradition of Canadian players at Santa Clara as he was named the 2008 Mr. Basketball for British Columbia and was on the All-Canadian First Team. Thompson, who is currently sidelined with a sprained ankle, is a 7-0 who gives the Broncos added size and depth in the frontcourt.