Santa Clara Basketball Preview: #121
Overall Rank: #121
Conference Rank: #3 West Coast Conference
2008-09: 16-17, 7-7
2008-09 postseason: none
Coach: Kerry Keating (31-33 at Santa Clara, 31-33 overall)
The record may not show it, but year two of the Coach Kerry Keating era was better than year one. Bigger things are expected in year three, even without dominating big man John Bryant. Bryant was the heart and soul of this team and earned conference player of the year accolades for his efforts. Replacing his 18.1 points, 14.2 rebounds and 2.5 blocks per game will be nearly impossible, but this was a young team that is ready to grow up.
Key Losses: C John Bryant, G Calvin Johnson, G Perry Petty, G James Rahon
Without a senior on the roster, this is still a young team and the newcomers will get an opportunity to play. Point guard Robert Smith will immediately step into at least the backup role, but it is the forwards who could find themselves in a starting position. Raymond Cowels is an athletic small forward who has enough shooting skills to play the two guard spot. Junior college transfer Troy Payne is the most likely candidate to step into a starting role right away.
The group on the perimeter is young, but they have some talented players like Kevin Foster, Michael Santos and Troy Alexander. Foster, a 6-2 sophomore, had a superb freshman campaign, tallying 14.7 points per game. Foster is mostly an outside shooter, but he will use his size to get to the basket and that is something he will be asked to do more of this season. Santos did not have quite as successful of a campaign, but he did earn 18 starts. His minutes will be pushed by the newcomers, but Santos is a decent distributor and defender who has the size to play the three spot.
Nobody is going to come close to replacing Bryant, but Marc Trasolini and Ben Dowdell are a decent frontcourt duo. Trasolini had a superb freshman campaign and the 6-9 Canadian should be in for an even better sophomore year. Just like Bryant, Trasolini is a back to the basket player and he should take over a majority of his shots. Without Bryant on the floor eating up all the rebounds and getting most of the shooting opportunities, Trasolini could be in for a huge year. Dowdell is not as effective of a scorer, but he is a strong rebounder who can do the dirty work around the paint. For now the starting job should be his to lose, but newcomers like Payne will push him for minutes.
Who to Watch:
The key to this team is at point guard. Troy Alexander started seven of the 13 games he appeared in as a freshman, but is he ready to take over full time? This is a team that lacked a playmaker last year, but Alexander could be that guy. If he is, Santa Clara’s offense will be very effective and much better than most would expect from a team that lost their best player.
The Broncos guards were effective last year because of Bryant in the paint. Foster hit so many three-pointers because the opposing defense was so busy trying to stop Bryant. Trasolini, or even Dowdell or Payne, have to turn into consistent scorers around the basket or the three-point shooting will suffer greatly and that is bad news for Foster who would otherwise become the new star of this team.
Projected Post-season Tournament: CBI/CIT
Projected Starting Five:
Troy Alexander, Sophomore, Guard, 1.2 points per game
Kevin Foster, Sophomore, Guard, 14.7 points per game
Michael Santos, Junior, Guard, 3.2 points per game
Ben Dowdell, Junior, Forward, 3.2 points per game
Marc Trasolini, Sophomore, Forward, 6.7 points per game