With a challenging schedule, Santa Clara brings a “tough” demeanor into 2017-18

For Santa Clara, last season involved head coach Bill Carr settling in at a new school and players becoming acclimated to a coaching change. Carr entered 2016-17 as the new head coach of the Broncos after JR Payne left for Colorado the previous spring.

“I think during the first year there was lot of feeling out on both sides, getting a feel on coach and the team and the team getting a feel for me,” Carr said about his first season. “I thought maybe six months into it, it really started to click. We learned a lot about each other during that time and once the season ended, I really felt that the spring that we had and summer we had was tremendous from a growth standpoint.”

While Santa Clara finished last season 14-16 and 9-9 and in West Coast Conference play, five of its games came down to a last possession. This season, both Carr and senior forward Morgan McGwire describe the team as “tough,” a characteristic that will come in handy in tight situations down the stretch.

McGwire is the team’s returning rebounder at 7.9 per game along with 9.1 points per contest. In addition, leading scorer junior guard Emily Wolph returns. Last season Wolph scored 13.2 points per game and led the conference in made three-point shots at 2.5 per game.

Other key returners include starter, senior guard Taylor Berry (7.6 ppg, 4.6 rpg), and senior guard Kyla Martin.

In addition, one of the team’s four transfers will be eligible to play this season. Charise Holloway comes to Santa Clara from Arizona. Last season she only played 15 games due to injury but scored 6.3 points per game. During her freshman year she saw action in 28 games and started five while averaging 6.6 points per game and 3.2 rebounds per contest.

In the WCC’s Preseason Women’s Basketball Coaches’ Poll, Santa Clara landed at sixth place, less than 10 points behind Loyola Marymount. Gonzaga is No. 1 in the poll, followed by BYU and Saint Mary’s. However, competition in the WCC is fierce with teams routinely upsetting Power Five schools during the non-conference season and multiple teams reaching postseason play in recent seasons.

Santa Clara has a challenging schedule before conference play begins with two Pac-12 teams, USC and Cal, plus Northwestern and Nevada, in the mix. The high level of competition is welcome by both Carr and McGwire.

“We want to be challenged,” Carr said. “You’re not going into this league and being successful unless you challenge yourself in the preseason because there are really good coaches and really good players in this league and we’ve got see where we are.”

McGwire was in sync with her coach regarding the advantages of a challenging schedule.

“I think it just builds a lot of character and confidence for our team,” she said. “Playing big teams such as the Pac-12’s Cal and USC, you know they’re respected teams but it obviously gets us ready for the conference season and this conference is no joke. There’s good teams in this conference so I think preseason is going to show us a lot and what we’re made of going into December and throughout March.”

The Broncos have two exhibition contests before their regular season begins Nov. 11 against Cal State Fullerton.

Santa Clara 2017-18 Roster

No. Name Ht. Pos. Yr. Hometown/High School/Last School
00 Erica Meyer 6-3 Forward Junior Wilton, Conn. / Wilton / Providence
3 Taylor Berry 5-9 Guard Senior Martinez, Calif. / St. Mary’s
4 Dru Toleafoa 6-0 Guard Junior Sydney, Australia / Brigidine College Randwick
11 Ruobing Bai 5-8 Guard Sophomore Zhengzhou, Henan, China / Tsinghua
12 Kyla Martin 5-5 Guard Senior Chino, Calif. / Etiwanda / East Los Angeles
13 Joeseta Fatuesi 6-4 Forward Junior Santa Clara, Calif. / Wilcox / Utah
20 Lauren Yearwood 6-3 Forward Sophomore Victoria British Columbia / Oak Bay / Oregon
21 Naomi Jimenez 6-0 Guard Sophomore Albrightsville, Penn. / Westtown School
22 Ashlyn Herlihy 6-1 Forward Freshman Arroyo Grande, Calif. / Arroyo Grande
23 Alexis Brigham 5-8 Guard Freshman Fort Worth, Texas / Northwest
24 Madison Piper 5-11 Guard Freshman Lawrence, Kan. / Lawrence Free State
25 Emily Wolph 5-5 Guard Junior Phoenix, Ariz. / Desert Vista
30 Andraya Flor 6-0 Guard Junior Seattle, Wash. / Seattle Prep
32 Morgan McGwire 6-2 Forward Senior Reno, Nev. / Reno
33 Tamia Braggs 6-2 Forward Sophomore Tacoma, Wash. / Lincoln
44 Charise Holloway 5-9 Guard Junior Tracy, Calif. / St. Mary’s / Arizona
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