It’s the reigning College Basketball Invitational winner, Santa Clara.
For much of the season it seemed the Broncos could just not get over the hump and beat a really good team. Close against Gonzaga and lost. Close against Duke and lost.
Then there were the two losses to Loyola Marymount, which made everyone turn their heads and say, “Really?”
But it was a big rebound year for the program after a dreadful 2011-12 campaign.
We will go through each WCC team and review the 2012-13 season along with quickly looking forward at next season. The University of the Pacific, who officially join the WCC on July 1, will also be a part of this.
Here is a final look at the 2012-13 Santa Clara Broncos:
Final Record: 26-12, 9-7 4th WCC
Postseason: CBI Champions
Early 2013-14 WCC prediction: 10th
Santa Clara became the first team to win the CBI and CIT ever.
The Broncos had a complete turnaround from the disaster that was the 2011-12 season when they did not win a single WCC game. That season was sandwiched between a third place finish and a fourth place finish.
The biggest difference between that dismal season and the others was the on-court presence of Kevin Foster and Marc Trasolini. The seniors combined to average 34 points this season, nearly half of the team’s average output.
So it is easily imaginable when those two are not in the lineup, winning becomes more difficult.
But with the two in the lineup, they put themselves back on the map when they won early on at Saint Louis, who reached the third round of the NCAA Tournament. They went toe-to-toe with Duke at Cameron Indoor as Foster dropped 29 points on the Blue Devils.
Santa Clara was riding high coming into WCC play and the first test was a team that was riding even higher: Gonzaga.
The game was the weekend before classes were supposed to resume and Head Coach Kerry Keating sent out a message to the student body saying anyone who could make it, he would pay for a room at a local hotel because it was important to have the support in the building.
The students showed up and it was rocking.
Santa Clara played Gonzaga well but then hit a stretch when they just could not get a point on the board. This became a theme against better competition.
The same thing happened against BYU. And then again against Saint Mary’s.
After a quarterfinals exit in the WCC Tournament, the Broncos were able to refocus and rode that into the CBI Tournament. That was led by none other than Foster.
Santa Clara’s all-time leading scorer averaged 26 points in the six games of the CBI and led the Broncos to their second tournament title in three years.
It was a great way for Foster and Trasolini to finish off their careers.
With Trasolini and Foster, Santa Clara won a lot of games. Without them, the Broncos won none.
Santa Clara will return a crew very similar to the one that went 0-16 in WCC play in 2012. Evan Roquemore will return. Brandon Clark will be back. Yannick Atanga will be clogging the middle.
The Broncos look like they will have the fire power on the perimeter with Roquemore and Clark. Roquemore averaged 12 points this season and saw his shooting percentage rise. Clark was the first guy off the bench this past season and saw his shooting percentages rise.
The question comes in if they will have any offensive presence on the post.
Atanga is a very good rebounder, averaging better than eight per game in WCC play, but averaged a mere two points all season. Freshman Robert Garrett made some early starts but lost his job to Atanga midway through the season.
This is what hurt Santa Clara two seasons ago and it will likely hurt them again next season.
Although they bring in a trio of freshman and, according to ESPN, none of which are ranked very high. But there is this small forward Jarvis Pugh out of Plano, Tx. That got me thinking. He has a “NR” as in not ranked by the ESPN recruiting analysis. That same ranking was given to Foster and Trasolini.