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Tuesday, September 13, 2011
Santa Clara assistants get chance to shine

By Diamond Leung



One of college basketball's first buzzer-beating wins of the fall took place on Saturday. During a preseason tour of Canada, Santa Clara forward Ray Cowels hit a 3-pointer in overtime to lift the Broncos to the win, and it was a particularly emotional moment for assistant coach James Ware.

Ware got the opportunity to serve as head coach for the game. During the trip, Kerry Keating allowed each of his three young assistants to coach games as a head coach.

"For me to be able to do that, let the assistants act as the head coach, and focus on the teaching and letting them coach, will hopefully help us this season because after the experience they will be better assistants and realize the pressure of being the head coach," Keating, whose first head coaching job came at Santa Clara, said in a statement. "It was a really good moment for all of us. You are only as good as your players and your team and your assistant coaches and I am fortunate to have good ones on all fronts. I am really excited we did it and happy to give them the opportunity to call themselves head coach for a game.

"I enjoyed being down at the end of the bench and walking up and down and talking to all our guys. I was good to be able to sit and talk to the players on the bench about what was going on, how they would react and how they would coach or play in different situations. I am glad we took advantage of it and I am glad we did this."

Santa Clara assistant Sam Scholl picked up a win in his first head coaching experience and did it with his parents, wife and children in attendance.

"It was awesome," Scholl said afterward. "It was so much fun. I know that James and Dustin [Kerns] said the same things. To see how you would be, how you would react and act in pressure situations. It was invaluable. We are all three very thankful for the experience and glad Coach Keating came up with the idea."

Ware got to experience a gamut of emotions. Santa Clara trailed early, clawed its way back, and it was Ware who dialed up the game-winning play and got to see one of his recruits come through. Cowels, who had attended the same Minnesota high school as Ware did, won the game.

"It was some of the most fun I have ever had as a coach," Ware said afterward.