by Joel Welser
Last NCAA Appearance: 2005, First Round loss to Southern Illinois
Coach: Randy Bennett (0-1 in 1 NCAA appearance)
Patrick Mills, Freshman, Guard
Todd Golden, Senior, Guard
Ian O’Leary, Junior, Forward
Diamon Simpson, Junior, Forward
Omar Samhan, Sophomore, Center
Tron Smith, Senior, Guard
Carlin Hughes, Junior, Guard
Yusef Smith, Junior, Forward
Why They Can Surprise:
They might not be household names, but St. Mary’s has a trio of superstars who will be known to all college basketball fans soon enough. Last year it was Diamon Simpson who led the way, but now he has some help. Still Simpson is a very important piece of the puzzle. The 6-7 junior is a great slasher and will use his amazing vertical to be a dominating force on the glass.
Center Omar Samhan went from a mere roleplayer as a freshman to a quality post player. At 6-11 and 265 pounds, he has the body to battle in the paint with just about anybody. Samhan has a nice touch on his mid-range jumper and his ability to stretch the defense sets him apart from most traditional big men. Yet, it is the addition of Patrick Mills that has turned St. Mary’s into a top 25 team most of this season. The freshman point guard turns the ball over a little too much and could be a little better outside shooter, but his value to the team is immeasurable.
Why They Can Disappoint:
With a freshman handling the ball most of the time, it is not too surprising the turnovers are a little high. However, the Gaels do have a couple other options in Todd Golden and Carlin Hughes who can handle the ball as well. The turnovers are not that big of an issue, but St. Mary’s will need to keep them relatively low if they want to win a couple of games. The other thing they will need to do down the stretch of close games is hit some free-throws. Mills, Golden and Hughes are solid from the charity stripe, but some others tend to struggle. Nobody is that horrible, but overall the team shoots under 67 percent.
Who To Watch:
Outside the big three, St. Mary’s has a few other players who will be crucial to the Gaels success. Forward Ian O’Leary and sixth-man guard Tron Smith have the potential to be the fourth scoring threat on any given night. O’Leary spends most of his time on the perimeter, while Smith provides a spark off the bench by getting to the basket. Golden and Hughes can do a little scoring as well, but they are most valuable supplementing Mills handling the ball.
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