Purdue's postseason run will continue tonight as Santa Clara ventures through the ice and snow of West Lafayette in the quarterfinals of the CBI Tournament. Up for grabs is a trip to Wednesday's semifinals, which will be reseeded among the winners of Houston-George Mason, Richmond-Wright State, and Western Michigan-Wyoming.
For Purdue, a near week off has been beneficial in the past. After a near week off Purdue came back to stun Wisconsin in Madison. After getting drilled in Bloomington Purdue plays some great basketball in drilling Northwestern. After a slow start against Western Illinois Purdue was able to cruise in the second half with a big assists from senior Dru Anthrop. Anthrop is clearly not done playing basketball yet, so another home win and getting his last year to .500 is critical tonight.
Location: Santa Clara, California
2011-12 Record: 8-22, 0-16 West Coast Conference
2012-13 Record: 22-11, 9-7 West Coast Conference
2012 Postseason: None
Blog Representation: Santa Clara Broncos Blog
Series With Purdue: Purdue Leads 4-0
Last Purdue win: 98-52 on 12/18/2000 at Purdue
TV: None (Streaming live on Big Ten Digital Network)
Odds: Purdue by 6.5
This is only the second time that Santa Clara has played Purdue in West Lafayette. Twice the teams have met at Santa Clara, while the first meeting was in 1978 in Provo, Utah. That first meeting was a 71-62 Purdue win, and it was the closest in the series.
Santa Clara has actually had quite a turnaround from a dismal season last year. They were winless in the West Coast Conference and won just eight games total in 2011-12. Two of those eight wins were over non-D1 schools. They did have some decent wins over Villanova and New Mexico in the 76 Classic, however. That helped lead to an 8-4 start that completely derailed into an 18-game losing streak to finish the year.
This year the Broncos again started strong with a 74-62 win at St. Louis on November 14. some close losses, however, likely kept them out of the NCAA discussion. In the non-conference they lost home games to Utah State and UC-Santa Barbara in overtime. They also went to Duke and lost by just 13. In conference they lost to Gonzaga, BYU, and St. Mary's twice each as those three were the top three in the WCC.
What really stung was Loyola Marymount. Loyola Marymount's only conference win was over Santa Clara on January 10, and they did it again in the WCC tournament.
Part of the turnaround has been the return of senior Marc Trasolini. The 6'8" 225 pound senior forward was expected to be a major contributor on a team that won the 2011 CIT Tournament and had high hopes for a big 2011-12 season. He tore his ACL in a preseason tour of Canada and was lost for the year after averaging 12.8 points and 6.4 rebounds per game. He has come back even better, averaging 15.7 points and 7.7 rebounds.
Trasolini is part of a team that has been high scoring all season. They average 73.6 points per game, good for 41st in the nation. They share the basketball well at almost 15 assists per game. Kevin Foster, a 6'2" senior guard who also missed a large portion of last season due to injury and was awarded another year as a result (he also missed a good potion of 2009-10), leads the Broncos at 18.1 point and a solid 4.4 assists. Evan Roquemore, a 6'3" junior guard also averages 11.8 points and 5.3 assists per game.
It should be noted that Foster is the all-time leading scorer for Santa Clara, which is impressive considering Steve Nash is an alum.
As you can see, their strength is in a very good backcourt where both guards and score and distribute. The defensive challenge for Ronnie Johnson and Terone Johnson will be large, but at least Roquemore and Foster aren't physically overpowering. In addition to getting the ball Trasolini, they get the ball to Raymond Cowells III (9.5 ppg) and Brandon Clark (7.5 ppg). They form a four-guard, one forward lineup that has been rather potent all year. Also of note, Clark is an East Chicago native that played in high school at Merrillville.
The reserves don't do a lot of scoring, but Santa Clara is a deep team that rotates between eight and ten guys regularly. Yannick Atanga is an effective rebounder and shot blocker at 6'8". Robert Garrett is also a 7-foot center that will play a few minutes against A.J. Hammons.
Because of the nature of Santa Clara we can expect a four-guard lineup with Hammons in the middle against Trasolini. The Broncos are a team that really likes to shoot the three, so our perimeter defense will be tested. Clark hits at a 46.3% clip, but Cowells, Foster, and Roquemore take most of the attempts. Each one of them shoots better than 35% from long range.
This is a concerning matchup because they like to play at a fast pace, share, the basketball, and shoot the three. Think of them as Indiana-lite in that way. We haven't exactly been the best team at defending the perimeter all season. If Santa Clara comes out and shoots well from three we're in trouble. Western Illinois was not a good three-point shooting team but was still 7 of 15 from long range.
Hammons should have an edge offensively on Trasolini and Garrett is the lone player they have that is anywhere close to matching up with him physically. Once again, the strategy of give the ball to Hammons and get out of his way needs to be used, especially if it leads to foul trouble for Trasolini. Unfortunately, Trasolini can hit the three and draw Hammons away from the basket.
The defense on the perimeter by Rapheal Davis (who is improving greatly) will also be key. Ray D. is becoming more consistent offensively, so that will help too. I think we'll see more of the regular 7-man rotation of D.J. Byrd, Hammons, TJ, RJ, Ray D., Anthrop, and Sandi Marcius in this game. That will be necessary with their guard-heavy lineup.
This is the type of game we need in this tournament. This is a good, but not overwhelming opponent that will test the areas where Purdue needs to be tested.
Crow about Big Ten dominance in the postseason if:
- Hammons shows up with the give-a-shit turned on.
- Purdue's perimeter defense is at least effective.
- Ray D. continues to be a difference-maker on both ends.
- The Free throw line continues to be figured out.
Slink away in shame over a SBI loss if
- Santa Clara comes out shooting hot.
- Hammons gets dominate by Trasolini.
- Purdue doesn't share the basketball as well as it did vs. Western Illinois
Purdue 75, Santa Clara 70