Santa Clara Broncos Midseason Report: Keating on Hot Seat, Foster Breaks Record

Tom SchreierCorrespondent IJanuary 12, 2012

LAS VEGAS, NV - MARCH 05:  Head coach Kerry Keating of the Santa Clara Broncos gestures to his players during a quarterfinal game of the Zappos.com West Coast Conference Basketball tournament against the Loyola Marymount Lions at the Orleans Arena March 5, 2011 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Santa Clara won 76-68.  (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
Ethan Miller/Getty Images

The Santa Clara men's basketball team has not been anything to write home about through the first 15 games of the season, but there are still a few months of basketball left to be played.

After winning 24 games, defeating Gonzaga at home and winning the CollegeInsider.com Tournament last season, the Broncos currently sit at 8-7 overall and 0-2 in West Coast Conference play. 

 

The Damage

In December, they lost close games to out-of-state opponents Houston Baptist and Wagner. However, not all of their losses in December were close, as evidenced by a 93-55 drubbing at the hands of Washington State. 

With an at-large bid to the National Collegiate Athletic Association Tournament in March out of the question, Santa Clara's only option now is receiving an automatic bid by winning the West Coast Conference. 

The first step for the team is to play well in conference in order to earn a favorable seeding in the WCC Tournament.

The Broncos' first conference game: an 84-74 loss in Portland.

Their second: an 82-60 blowout at Gonzaga.

In Keating's words: "At Gonzaga, we played a lot better than we played at Portland, where we had a very poor defensive performance and found ourselves climbing out of a hole in the end." 

CHAMPAIGN, IL - DECEMBER 03: Robert Sacre #00 of the Gonzaga Bulldogs tries for a rebound against Myke Henry #20 of the Illinois Fighting Illini at Assembly Hall on December 3, 2011 in Champaign, Illinois. Illinois defeated Gonzaga 82-75.  (Photo by Jonat
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

 

Keating on the Hot Seat

During his five seasons at the helm, his teams have not only been plagued with injuries (Kevin Foster and Marc Trasolini both have missed a season under his watch), but also by defection of high-profile players (Decensae White, Robert Smith and James Rahon).

Trasolini injured his anterior cruciate ligament during an exhibition game and will miss the entire season.

"(He) was primed for a great senior year," said Keating.

"At the time he went down, he was probably our best player."

The result of the injuries and departures has left the team in a state of perpetual youth.

Not counting Phillip Bach, who is averaging three minutes per game this season, Santa Clara will not graduate anyone from this year's team.

That means that the Broncos will not graduate a senior that has made significant, on-court contributions for two of the past three years.

"There's no experience coming off the bench," said Keating, "and it puts pressure on those guys who start the game."

PHOENIX, AZ - DECEMBER 26:  Steve Nash #13 of the Phoenix Suns handles the ball during the season openning NBA game against the New Orleans Hornets at US Airways Center on December 26, 2011 in Phoenix, Arizona.  The Hornets defeated the Suns 85-84. NOTE T
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

The result is inconsistency.

"We're really young, so we're going to make mistakes," said Foster, who broke Steve Nash's three-point record in a loss to Oklahoma five games into the season.

The bright side is that the team will have another year to grow together.

"We're only going to be the better for it when Marc (Trasolini) returns and we have all those guys come back," said Keating.

"That's the caveat, but these guys are competitors and would like to be good now."

Therein lies the problem: It may take a year for this team to put it all together, and that gives Foster, Trasolini and Co. only one year to work their magic.

Another slip-up next season, and it'll be back to the drawing board for Mr. Keating. 

 

The Silver Lining

The team's home/road split. The Broncos are 7-1 at home, but 0-5 on the road.

"We've had great success at home, with the exception of the one blown call and missed opportunity against Wagner," said Keating.

Fortunately for Keating and the Broncos, the team will play four of their next five games in the Leavey Center.

"We need all our students to give us that support, coming back energetic after break ready to go, knowing that this is a team that is fully capable of winning all of our home games," said Keating.

"It's all about confidence being at home."

 

Tom Schreier is a Featured Columnist at Bleacher Report.

Follow him on Twitter @tschreier3

Special thanks to The Santa Clara Staff for editing the article.