College Basketball Nation: Ray Cowels

Santa Clara assistants get chance to shine

September, 13, 2011

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.

Santa Clara takes weight issues seriously

September, 12, 2011
Robert Garrett is a freshman center at Santa Clara who goes by the nickname "Big Rob," and there's a good reason for that. On the roster, Garrett is listed at 7-feet, 255 pounds.

And when his weight threatened to sideline him from a team activity during the Broncos' recent tour of Canada, Garrett sprang into action to slim down his figure.

The team went to go ziplining, but due to regulations that required participants to weight 250 pounds or less, Garrett would not have been able to participate because he was a couple of pounds overweight.

Cue the "Chariots of Fire" music.

"I see Rob doing wind sprints outside a check-in booth," director of basketball operations Jesse Pruitt said.

"We start doing sprints and jumping jacks. He starts taking off clothes, taking off his socks."

Eventually, Garrett weighed in at 249.8 pounds and got to go ziplining and make memories with his team after all.

"I initially didn't even want to go ziplining," Garrett said. "I was actually kind of scared out of my mind."

The whole weight loss episode probably brought a smile to coach Kerry Keating, who will need more out of his young big man after top rebounder Marc Trasolini was lost for the season with a torn anterior cruciate ligament during the trip.

It was Keating last fall who threatened to hold leading scorer Kevin Foster out of practice if the all-conference player did not make weight.

But now Santa Clara appears to be a better-conditioned and better-prepared team after the trip to Canada. The Broncos certainly hated to see Trasolini go down, but the silver lining was that they played in three overtime games that included big shots down the stretch.

Foster, who led the nation last season in made 3-pointers, hit a turnaround 3 to beat the buzzer and send a game into overtime. Redshirt freshman Julian Clarke coming off a summer in which he played for the Canadian Under-19 team hit a 3-pointer of his own with a second left to send a game into OT. And Ray Cowels, whose playing time should increase this year, won an overtime game with a buzzer-beating 3.

Add in a little inspiration from Garrett, and it should be interesting to see if team chemistry can help overcome the significant loss of Trasolini.