Beginning Monday, June 21st,
2004 CHN began unveiling 144 Team previews in 144 Days. CHN ranked the
nations top 144 teams, and is unveiling one per day leading up until the
opening day of the 2004-05 Season.
144 Teams in 144 Days home page, and check back
each day to see which team is previewed next.
#63 Saint Mary’s Gaels
West Coast Conference
2003-04: 19-12, 9-5, 2nd
2003-04 postseason: none
By Adam Glatczak
Gaels have improved gradually since Randy Bennett took over three years ago.
They took some bigger steps last year, finishing 19-12 and making national
ripples in December when they went to Arizona and led almost the entire way
before falling by six at the end. St. Mary's also had a close call against
USC, played Gonzaga tough three times and was clearly the second-best team
in the West Coast Conference. With their nucleus returning intact, the Gaels
have a shot at knocking off the Zags in 2004-05.
Who’s Out: Chase Poole and Tyler Herr were steady players who saw a
lot in their time at SMC, playing on teams that won as few as two games and
as many as the 19 last year. Once some of the leading scorers on the team,
both saw their offensive numbers diminish as the talent around them
improved. Herr started 28 games in 2003-04 and averaged eight points per
game while shooting 40% from three. Poole was often the second reserve off
the bench and scored just 5.1 ppg.
Who’s In: California transfer Erik Bond, a 6-7 Washington prep star,
left the Golden Bears after one season. His loss is the Gaels' gain, and he
should become a key player immediately.
Who to Watch: Paul Marigney came back from a torn ACL and his
offensive flair was a big reason for the Gaels' improvement. The
cold-blooded scoring machine hit for 16 points a game while usually coming
off the bench. He is one of the top players in the WCC. Aussie Daniel
Kickert is a classic international big man, very skilled offensively but in
need of some toughening. He gets knocked around at times but is still
learning and has room to become even better than the 14 points, five boards
a game player he was as a sophomore. Frederic Adjiwanou of France was listed
as a senior last year but has another year of eligibility. He also has
potential to be even better, is tougher inside than Kickert and was an
animal against Arizona (17 points, 11 rebounds). E.J. Rowland is an
offensive presence (13 ppg) at point guard and good at breaking down the
defense either passing or shooting inside the three-point line. Former
Colorado State transfer Jonathan Sanders started 28 games last year but,
like Poole and Herr, saw his scoring production drop some with Marigney's
Projected Conference Rank: 2nd. The next logical step for St. Mary's
is a postseason bid, but the Gaels will need to conquer the Gonzaga hurdle
if they want to win the WCC. That much was proven last year, when SMC lost
to the Zags at home, on the road and at a neutral site. All three games were
pretty similar: St. Mary's was close in all but never put a serious scare
into the Bulldogs down the stretch. The natural progress by Bennett's
program suggests it's possible, but at this point the Bulldogs have earned
the right to be favorites in the WCC until proven otherwise. Still, St.
Mary's has an excellent shot to win 20+ games, and if they do so the Gaels
will be in the hunt for an NCAA bid.
Projected Post-season Tournament: NIT
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