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Return to the 2006-07 Top 144 Preview

August 23rd, 2006

By Joel Welser

Broadcast Basketball


St. Maryís Gaels


Overall Rank: #78

Conference Rank: #2 WCC


2005-06: 17-12, 8-6, 2nd (t)

2005-06 postseason: none


It will be tough for Saint Maryís to replace a player like Daniel Kickert, but his absence will not spell the end of the success of Coach Randy Bennett and his Gaels.  With a nice mix of youth and experience returning, and a trio of newcomers ready to make an impact, St. Maryís has the best shot at knocking Gonzaga off the top spot in the West Coast Conference.


Whoís Out: Thereís nothing like a 6-10 forward who leads your team in three point shots made and three point percentage.  Kickert could spread out a WCC defense like no other.  It will take some time to adjust to not having him on the floor, yet his 16.7 points and 5.6 boards can be replaced.  Reda Rhalimi, a part-time starter at center, didnít see that many minutes for a starter.  The 7-0 Morocco native averaged 4.6 points and 2.8 rebounds during his senior campaign.  Seldom used forward Erik Bond has also run out of eligibility.


Whoís In: The performance of the newcomers could decide whether this is a good season or a great season for the Gaels.  Tron Smith started ten games at Arizona State as a freshman before having stints at UC Riverside and Citrus College in California.  The 6-2 guard is a great scorer and will add to the tons of depth on the perimeter that is being stockpiled in Moraga.  DuBois Williams, a 6-5 wing, also comes to the Gaels via Arizona State.  Williams has the talent and athletic ability to contribute right away.  Seven-foot center Omar Samhan is the newcomer that is least ready to play, but a solid contribution from him off the bench will allow Coach Bennett to avoid having a small lineup on the floor when the starting big guys need a rest.


Who to Watch: Unless there is a major sophomore slump, Diamon Simpson is expected to become a team leader and one of the more explosive players in the conference.  After a freshman season in which Simpson averaged 8.2 points and a team high 6.9 rebounds off the bench, big things are expected from the 6-8 forward once he steps into a starting role.  He isnít alone up front with forwards Brett Collins, Ian OíLeary and center Blake Sholberg returning.  Collins, a 6-5 Phoenix, Arizona native, developed into a solid scoring option last year averaging 11.6 points per game.  OíLearyís superb freshman campaign was overshadowed by Simpson, but the 6-7 forward still managed 6.9 points and 3.6 boards per contest.  Sholberg didnít put up big numbers last year with 4.0 points and 2.7 boards, but at 7-1, Sholberg provides an experienced big body.


Final Projection: Guards John Winston, Todd Golden and Wayne Hunter will share minutes with Smith and Williams in the backcourt.  Winston is a decent option to run the point, but a little more consistency with the jump shot would be helpful.  Golden isnít the most prolific scorer, but he started 28 games last year and has the inside track on a starting gig until Smith comes around.  Hunter showed promise as a freshman, averaging over 20 minutes per game.  He might find the minutes harder to come by this year, but Hunter can provide a nice spark off the bench.  Itís a deep squad, itís a talented squad, but as usual in the WCC, itís not enough to overtake the Zags.


Projected Post-season Tournament: NIT


Projected Starting Five:

John Winston, Senior, Guard, 8.3 points per game

Todd Golden, Junior, Guard, 6.7 points per game

Brett Collins, Senior, Forward, 11.6 points per game

Diamon Simpson, Sophomore, Forward, 8.2 points per game

Blake Sholberg, Senior, Center, 4.0 points per game

79 California Ľ Complete List Ľ 77 Winthrop

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