Shorthanded Broncos shun woe-is-we outlook
Point guard KJ Feagin said he and his Santa Clara teammates will be “smart, energetic and tough” this season. At least at the outset of the schedule, they’ll need to avoid adopting a “woe is we” mentality.
Injuries have hampered the Broncos in the past two seasons, and in 2018-19, they’ll have to do without guard Matt Hauser — a two-year starter who is skipping his senior season to allow a chronic foot injury to heal — and freshman forward Juan Ducasse, who had knee surgery in August.
Moreover, senior forward Henrik Jadersten is recovering from a stress fracture in his foot. Head coach Herb Sendek said that in a best-case scenario, Jadersten could play in games by the middle of this month, but it’s more likely he’ll be sidelined a few more weeks.
Feagin averaged 17.5 points and four assists per game as a junior last season en route to making the All-WCC team. He won’t focus on what the Broncos don’t have.
“At a certain point,” Feagin said, “you have to realize that you have to break through and you have to just think, like, ‘I’ve got these … guys and we’re just gonna roll with the punches.’ …
“Last year, I kind of had that (woe-is-we) attitude, but at this point, it’s my last year so I don’t have time to have that attitude.”
Without Jadersten, the Broncos will begin the season with only nine scholarship players on their roster. That puts an even stronger focus on Feagin.
“We rely on KJ a great deal,” Sendek said. “He’s not only used to that, but he thrives on that.”
Said Gonzaga head coach Mark Few of Feagin: “He’s got a lot of freedom with the ball in his hands. He can do a lot of things. Anytime you can shoot it out to 25 (feet) but yet you’re a capable driver, finisher, distributor, (you) are hard to guard.”
Sendek projected his starting lineup to be Feagin, sophomore guard Tahj Eaddy, sophomore forward Josip Vrankic (who averaged 10.4 points and 4.6 rebounds per game last season), senior forward Josh Martin and senior center Fallou Ndoye.
Eaddy (Southeast Missouri), Martin (Cal Poly) and Ndoye (Cal State Bakersfield) all transferred to Santa Clara.
Feagin knows the Broncos are somewhat shorthanded, but he wants to turn that into a positive.
“It’s kind of like our backs are against the wall,” Feagin said, “and that’s when we’re the most dangerous.”