Friday, December 26, 2008

San Jose State faces St. Mary's in Moraga Saturday

Let's hope the bells of St. Mary's are indeed ringing Saturday night but playing a dirge as such would be fitting after San Jose State travels up to Moraga for a men's basketball game and hopefully notches a win. Beating the Gaels would be the signature win for the WAC so far this season.

It's part of the Shamrock Office Solutions Classic scheduled for December 27 & 28. As mentioned, the game on the 27th (Saturday) is against West Coast Conference power St. Mary's, er, make that the 10-1 Gaels.

The opponent the next day is either William Jessup or Morgan State. Yes, Todd Bozeman's Morgan State Bears. The former Cal coach is in his third year and coming off being named 2008 Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference Coach of the Year.

Isn't it hard to believe that Randy Bennett has already been at St. Mary's for eight seasons. It's also difficult to understand why he is still there, what with the wooing he received from Oregon State this past off-season and to some degree from Cal plus that in previous off-seasons. Here more on Bennett:

BENNETT'S BIO (from the St. Mary's site)

The 2008 Co-West Coast Conference Coach of the Year, Randy Bennett, took over as the head men
basketball coach prior to the 2001-02 season ... He has become the school’s all-time wins leader with 127 coaching victories and is the only coach in the 100-years of the program to lead two teams to the NCAA Tournament ... The 2007-08 season marked a memorable year for Saint Mary’s as Bennett guided the team to a record tying 25 wins with a 25-7 overall record. The Gaels were ranked in the top-25 in both the ESPN/USA Today Coaches’ Poll and the Associated Press Polls for numerous weeks ... Over the past five seasons, Bennett has guided the Gaels to 103 total wins, averaging 20.3 wins per season, and from 2003-08, SMC has posted more wins than any other five-year stretch in school history ... In the last five years SMC has a 63-15 (.807) in McKeon Pavilion, which includes a 15-1 mark at home during the 2007-08 season.


11.14.08 Seattle Pacific W 86-55
11.17.08 Fresno State W 99-85
11.23.08 Vanguard W 86-54
11.27.08 UTEP L 62-75 (in Anaheim)
11.28.08 CS Fullerton W 79-54 (in Anaheim)
11.30.08 Providence W 81-75 (in Anahein)
12.04.08 at Kent State W 75-69
12.13.08 San Diego State W 67-64 (in Anahein)
12.17.08 at Oregon W 78-73
12.20.08 Southern Illinois W 65-52 (in Indianapolis)
12/23/08 at Pacific W 74-65


Omar Samhan C 6-11 junior 14.4 ppg., 10.0 rpg.
Diamon Simpson F 6-7 senior 11.9 ppg., 12.0 rpg.
Ian O’Leary F 6-7 senior 4.5 ppg., 3.7 rpg.
Carlin Hughes G 6-2 senior 8.9 ppg., 1.6 rpg., 3.6 apg.
Patrick (Patty) Mills G 6-0 sophomore 19.9 ppg., 2.7 rpg., 3.7 apg.

Does any other D-1 squad have two starters in the backcourt hailing from Australia?

Samhan -- Samhan was initally set to play for USF but the tug-of-war there between the basketball coach and the AD submarined that deal. Overlooked by a number of teams in his recruitment, he has developed into a solid scorer and rebounder, aided by a dramatic reduction in his weight. He has also cut his hair this season -- the flowing locks replaced by a buzz cut. Samhan earned All-WCC honorable mention honors last season -- currently,he's averaging a double-double, is shooting 57% from the floor and has blocked 21 shots. 36 of his 110 rebounds have come at the offensive end so blocking him out is a requirement.

Simpson -- He was all set to play for Fresno State before Ray Lopes was let go there and ended up in the lap of St. Mary's. The all-time leader in blocked shots for the Gaels, Simpson was awarded with First Team All-WCC honors as well as being named the WCC Defensive Player of the Year in 2007-2008. He is shooting 43% from the floor to date and grabbing an amazing 12 boards a contest. Simpson generally produces a couple of spectacular plays a game, whether it be a dunk or a shotblock and that gets the Gael fans roaring.

O'Leary -- We thought he would be more of a scorer than has turned out in college but it seems he has sibmerged part of his game so as to play a different role for the Gaels than initially expected. His 22% shooting from long range isn't indicative of his true ability -- he's at 46% overall.

Hughes -- He came to St. Mary's after two seasons at Montana State - Billings, Best known as a shooter, his numbers aren't indicating such so far this season -- Hughes is at 40% on the season, 34% from three-point range. But he is producing 3.6 assists a game with the best-on-the-team 41-21 assist-to-turnover numbers.

Mills -- Even with the longstanding question of how long Bennett will call Moraga home, Mills gets even more queries about when will it be his turn to head to the NBA. Feeding that even further, he enjoyed some great games representing Australia during the Olympics. The WCC Newcomer of the Year and a first-team selection, Mills is a points producer. He's still in need of work on his situational shot selection but he leads St. Mary's at a nudge below 20 points per game. He is at 41% with his overall shooting and just 32% on his try attempts. He is also tops in assists and steals for the Gaels. What sets Mills apart is his speed with ball -- there's very few who can keep in front of him all through a game.


Carlin Hughes G 6-2 185 Sr.(Australia)
Ian O'Leary F 6-7 220 Sr.
Yusef Smith F 6-8 225 Sr.
Clint Steindl F 6-7 180 Fr.(Australia)
Lucas WalkerF 6-8 225 Sr. (Australia)
Patrick Mills G 6-0 175 So. (Australia)
Diamon Simpson F 6-7 230 Sr.
Ben Allen C 6-11 250 Jr. (Australia)
Collin Chiverton G 6-5 200 Fr.
Trey Anderson G 6-4 175 Fr.
Wayne Hunter G 6-4 210 Jr.
Mickey McConnell G 6-0 175 So.
Tim Williams F 6-9 235 Fr.
Phil Benson F 6-8 230 So.
Omar Samhan C 6-11 265 Jr.

Hunter -- He is earning 20 minutes of playing time a game but hasn't shot well this season.

McConnell -- We say he isn't 6-0 regardless of the official stats but he comes from a basketball coaching family -- father and grandfather -- and is performing well as a ballhandler in just under 18 minutes a contest. He is shooting 43% for the season as well as from long range.


*** St. Mary's is shooting 43% on the season while holding opponents to 39% -- the Gaels finished at 46% last year

*** On threes, the Gaels are at 31% to 30% for opposing teams

*** Bennett's team has a +80 rebounding advantage, 473 to 393.

*** Note the total of five players from Down Under on the roster -- plus, Randy Bennett just signed three more Australians in the November signing period.

*** St. Mary's and the West Coast Conference just entered into a very strategic with ESPN. Here's the announcement:

"The West Coast Conference (WCC) recently launched one of its most monumental strategic television initiatives. With partner ESPN, the WCC spearheaded an international television package that would broadcast a total of 23 men's basketball games on ESPN Australia, ESPN HD Australia, and ESPN Pacific Rim, and ESPN New Zealand. This is the first time that the WCC television schedule has ever extended beyond North America ... All eight WCC men's basketball programs will be a part of the 23-game package, including 16 appearances by Saint Mary's and 2008 Australian Olympian Patty Mills. Saint Mary’s has five players on its 2008-09 roster from Australia, and will welcome three additions to its roster for the 2009-10 campaign."


Saturday night will be the debut of Oliver Adrian for the Spartans -- he's the twin brother of you-know-who. Don't we wish Santa was that good to the Spartans this Christmas? Do get yourself up to Moraga Saturday and Sunday and cheer on the Spartans.

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