St. Mary’s Gaels
West Coast Conference (26-5, 11-3)
Big Wins: 11/17 San Diego State (80-58), 12/5 at Utah State (68-63), 3/8 vs Gonzaga (81-62)
Bad Losses: 12/23 vs USC (49-60), 1/14 Gonzaga (82-89), 2/13 at Portland (75-80)
Last NCAA Appearance: 2008, First Round loss to Miami
Coach: Randy Bennett (0-2 in 2 NCAA appearances)
Why They Can Surprise:
Saint Mary’s ranks in the top 15 nationally in field-goal percentage, three-point field goals per game, three-point field-goal percentage, free-throw percentage, assists per game and assist-to-turnover ratio. That is quite an impressive list and everybody plays their part. On the perimeter Mickey McConnell and Matthew Dellavedova are both prolific outside shooters who connect on at least two long balls per game. McConnell is a little more consistent with his shooting, but the fact that Dellavedova stepped into a starting role as a freshman and still hits 41.4 percent of his attempts from beyond the arc is quite impressive. Both are also quality ballhandlers who dramatically help that impressive assist-to-turnover ratio.
Forward Clint Steindl, another freshman, and senior center Ben Allen are also capable outside shooters. Allen will also use his 6-11 frame to battle in the paint and Steindl is turning into an unsung glue guy that holds this team together.
Why They Can Disappoint:
The problem is the lack of depth and experience on this team. Dellavedova and Steindl are inexperienced underclassmen and the bright lights of March could get the best of them. But more importantly, fellow freshmen Mitchell Young and Jorden Page are the only two players who see any significant action off of the bench. Injuries to Wayne Hunter and Tim Harris have severely limited Coach Randy Bennett’s options and the Gaels could have very tired legs in the tournament.
Who To Watch:
Having a 6-11 power forward who can stretch out the defense and hit the glass certainly helps in the rebounding department, but it is Omar Samhan that makes this team so effective on the boards and in the shot blocking department. Man for man, the size and strength on this team can compete with anybody in the country. Mr. Samhan is the only returning starter from a year ago and many were anxious to see how he could perform with a less talented cast of players around him. In the end, the cast is not as less talented as most expected and Samhan has exceeded those expectations anyway. On the year he averages 20.9 points, 11.0 rebounds and 3.0 blocks. The 6-11, 265 pound senior will have very little trouble battling with anybody in the paint and he has turned into one of the best interior scorers in the country. And if you want to double-team him, McConnell and Dellavedova will make you pay with their outside shooting.
Mickey McConnell, Junior, Guard, 13.7 ppg, 5.3 apg, 1.5 spg
Matthew Dellavedova, Freshman, Guard, 12.5 ppg, 4.5 apg
Clint Steindl, Sophomore, Forward, 7.0 ppg, 2.6 rpg
Ben Allen, Senior, Center, 10.8 ppg, 7.6 rpg
Omar Samhan, Senior, Center, 20.9 ppg, 11.0 rpg, 3.0 bpg
Jorden Page, Freshman, Guard, 4.1 ppg, 1.1 apg
Mitchell Young, Freshman, Forward, 4.3 ppg, 3.1 rpg
By the Numbers:
Scoring Offense: 79.4 (16th in nation, 1st in conference)
Scoring Defense: 66.2 (118, 2)
Field-Goal Percentage: 48.7 (12, 2)
Field-Goal Defense: 42.3 (129, 2)
Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 8.4 (14, 1)
Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 40.9 (4, 1)
Free-Throw Percentage: 76.0 (8, 1)
Rebound Margin: 4.5 (45, 2)
Assists Per Game: 16.4 (15, 1)
Turnovers Per Game: 11.7 (41, 1)
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