#139 Santa Clara Broncos: 2010-11 Basketball Preview
Conference Rank: #3 West Coast Conference
2009-10: 11-21, 3-11
2009-10 postseason: none
Coach: Kerry Keating (42-54 at Santa Clara, 42-54 overall)
It is pretty safe to say that for the last three years Santa Clara has been unlucky. Transfers and injuries have pretty much made Coach Kerry Keating have to start over every season since he took over the team prior to the 2007-2008 campaign. The results have not been pretty and the Broncos bottomed out last year, finishing tied for last place in the West Coast Conference with a 3-11 record. With everybody back and an increasingly healthy Kevin Foster, this should be the year Coach Keating leads Santa Clara to a winning record…and better things would then await in 2011-2012.
Key Losses: none
Coach Keating is a proven recruiter and this should turn out to be his best class yet at Santa Clara. Center John McArthur headlines the group of freshmen. The big man was a great pickup and should compete for playing time right away. Yannick Atanga is less proven than McArthur, but he has a ton of potential and those two could dominate the frontcourt in a couple of years. Julian Clarke will add some much needed depth on the perimeter, as will Evan Roquemore. Roquemore is a superb athlete who can also knock down the long ball, which is something this team desperately needs.
Robert Smith has cemented his role as a starter during his freshman campaign. He is not much of an outside shooter, although that does not stop him from trying, but Smith is a capable passer and a good scorer inside the arc. On a team that struggled offensively for much of the 2009-2010 campaign, Smith did an admirable job as a freshman trying to keep the team under control. His turnover numbers need to go down and hitting a few more three-pointers would be nice, yet Smith is already turning into a leader on this team. Ray Cowels and Michael Santos were a couple of the players who had to step up and perform on the wing after Foster went down with an injury six games into the season. Cowels started 11 games and did his best to pick up the outside shooting that was lost with Foster. His numbers were not all that impressive, but he did have a promising freshman campaign. Santos will likely see his playing time decrease after averaging 26.8 minutes per game last year with the return of Foster and the addition of Roquemore and Clarke, yet Coach Keating may need to call upon the senior to provide leadership on the perimeter.
The star of the frontcourt is Marc Trasolini. The 6-9, 235 pound junior is the closest thing the Broncos have to a center even though Trasolini is not opposed to stepping outside and knocking down the mid-range jumper. The good news is that he is a relatively effective scorer around the basket and is a fine rebounder and shot blocker on the other end of the floor. Troy Payne was the only player to start every game last year and will likely start beside Trasolini again this season. Payne is not much of a scorer, but he is a tough rebounder and will create space for Trasolini. Niyi Harrison, Ben Dowdell and Chris Cunningham also have starting experience and all three of them are capable of giving Trasolini and Payne a break without too much of a drop off in production.
Who to Watch:
When Foster was lost for the year with a broken foot six games into the season, the offense never recovered. Some younger players were forced to step up and that may turn into a good thing in the long run, but it made last season unbearable. The Broncos tried to even things up by playing tough defense, but most of the time they could just not score enough. Foster should be back at full strength for the 2010-2011 season and that alone makes this a dangerous team. In his six games last year, Foster averaged 19.8 points, 2.8 assists, 2.8 rebounds and 2.2 steals. If he can keep that up for a full season, Santa Clara will do more than just have a winning record.
The most important thing that was lost with Foster was the team’s outside shooting. Even Foster hoisted up a lot of long balls at a pretty low connection rating, but at least he was an outside shooting threat. This is a team that really needs to find an outside shooter. If it is not Foster, it better be one of the sophomores like Smith or Cowels or a newcomer like Roquemore. If the shooting is as bad as it was last year, Santa Clara will be too easy to stop and the offense will continue to struggle even with Foster back and a year of experience for the rest of the team.
Projected Post-season Tournament: none
Projected Starting Five:
Robert Smith, Sophomore, Guard, 12.1 ppg
Kevin Foster, Junior, Guard, 19.8 ppg
Ray Cowels, Sophomore, Forward, 7.3 ppg
Troy Payne, Senior, Forward, 4.4 ppg
Marc Trasolini, Junior, Forward, 13.7 ppg
*Updated August 15th
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