SANTA CLARA -- Thrown together by circumstances no one could have foreseen, bound by triumph and disappointment, Santa Clara's five-man senior class heads to the West Coast Conference tournament this weekend hoping to add one last chapter to its story.
"It's pretty crazy that we're all finishing together with all the things that have happened," forward Niyi Harrison said. "This is our last postseason, and we can do something the school hasn't done in a while: Make the NCAA tournament. That would be a completely different legacy than we've established so far."
As it stands, that legacy is difficult to define. It includes two season-ending injuries, a DUI arrest and one of the worst seasons in school history.
But the seniors -- Harrison, big man Marc Trasolini, guards Kevin Foster and Raymond Cowels III and walk-on guard Kyle Perricone -- also helped the Broncos win the CollegeInsider.com Tournament two years ago and have led SCU to 21 victories this season.
They will depart with more than 5,000 combined points.
"They were thrust into playing right away, because we needed them," coach Kerry Keating said. "And they have established a level of competitiveness on the court that the team can build on for future success."
Foster and Trasolini arrived first, in the fall of 2008, and were named to the league's all-freshman team. But their momentum was derailed early the following season, when Foster
He was granted a medical redshirt and joined the class behind him -- the class with Cowels III and Harrison. Foster was healthy in 2010-11 and led the Broncos to 24 wins and the CollegeInsider.com championship -- the first postseason crown in the program's history.
The class suffered its next setback five months later, when Trasolini tore knee ligaments during an exhibition game in Vancouver, his hometown. The resulting medical redshirt meant he would once again be Foster's classmate; the shared experience of a season lost to injury strengthened their bond.
"I talked to Kevin a lot about what it was like for him," Trasolini said. "He had a lot of answers for me, especially how to deal with it mentally."
The Broncos bumped along without Trasolini until mid-January 2012, when Foster was arrested on suspicion of DUI and subsequently suspended for the remainder of the season.
"It was bad judgment on my part," he said. "It showed me that things can get taken away at any time and really helped me mature. I looked at myself and decided I had to be better -- eat better, work out better, everything."
Without Foster, the fragile Broncos collapsed: They went 0-16 in league play, the first winless season by any WCC school in more than a decade.
But the disappointment was quickly expunged as both Foster and Trasolini rejoined the team for spring workouts.
"We were determined to come back and prove we were a completely different team," Harrison said.
Thanks to good health, smart decisions and superb chemistry, the Broncos are the No. 4 seed in the WCCs -- they play Friday against an undetermined opponent -- and have a chance to make another postseason appearance.
Foster will depart as Santa Clara's career scoring leader (2,242 points and counting) and the No. 2 scorer in conference history behind the late Hank Gathers, the former Loyola Marymount star.
Trasolini ranks 10th on the school's career scoring list and is one of four players in SCU history with 1,500 points and 800 rebounds. (The others are Kurt Rambis, Dennis Awtrey and John Bryant.)
In their three full seasons together, Foster and Trasolini have won 61 games, with the opportunity for a few more.
"I think a lot about these being our last practices together, our last road trips," Cowels III said. "It's been a process of growing up with these guys, learning together through all the ups and downs. I feel blessed to have been able to play with them."
WCC Tournament quarterfinals: Santa Clara vs. TBD, 6 p.m. ESPNU