Posts Tagged ‘Omar Samhan’

Smiling St. Mary’s Set to Shine

March 25th, 2010 by Adam Markowitz (Bankroll Sports Columnist) | Posted in NCAA Basketball   Comments Off on Smiling St. Mary’s Set to Shine

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You just have to love a guy who tells a reporter that he was a McDonald’s All-American, when in fact, he wasn’t a high school all star of any type.

But C Omar Samhan wasn’t lying to the reporter though. He promptly laughed and referred to the fact that he ate so much junk food that he was probably a few Big Macs shy of tipping the scale.

What we’ve learned in this tournament about the St. Mary’s Gaels is that this team is just fun to watch play basketball. Samhan is always smiling. It’s almost contagious. The team doesn’t seem to care about playing defense (but does it much better than we expect) and just wants to come back down the court and run some set offenses that either set up three point plays for one of the lethal sharpshooters or an easy post play for Samhan.

Forget about the fact that this team is out of the West Coast Conference or that it has a #10 attached to its name. St. Mary’s is no Cinderella. Just ask Samhan, who told the student body this week that the Gaels are going to come back to the West Coast with a National Championship in tote.

Unlikely? Probably. Impossible? Not nearly.

After all, take a look at just how strong this team really is. Offensively, the accolades could go on and on. St. Mary’s averages 79.4 points per game, shooting 48.8 percent from the field and 41.1 percent from three point range. The Gaels rebound the basketball well at 34.2 boards per game and a +5.6 rebounding advantage on an average night. They shoot free throws well (76.2 percent as a team) and don’t turn the ball over all that much (11.3 times per game).

Don’t rest on this defense either. Yes, this was a team that played a West Coast Conference schedule, thus should have better numbers than the Dukes, Kansases, and Kentuckys of this world, but averaging 5.2 blocks and 5.1 steals per game is fantastic. So is the fact that teams only connect on 29.5 percent of their three point baskets against the Gaels.

So far in this tournament, we’ve seen the surreal and the sublime all at one time from this team. Many expected the WCC champs to bow out against #7 Richmond in Round 1 of the dance. Not only didn’t they go away, but they dominated as well. Don’t look at that 80-71 score line and think that this game was ever really in doubt, especially in the second half. If not for the fact that Samhan was in foul trouble most of the game, it probably would’ve been even uglier. The lead stretch out to almost 20 at times in the second stanza, and the big man finished with 29 points and 12 boards.

Yes, #2 Villanova looked awful against #15 Robert Morris to the point where it nearly got upset on the opening day of March Madness, but there was no way that the Wildcats were going to get bounced by these upstarts from St. Mary’s, right?


Samhan delivered 32 more points, and G Matthew Dellavedova delivered one of the most remarkable plays of the tourney when he banked in a three pointer as the shot clock was expiring to help issue the dagger to the Big East behemoths.

Now, there’s a new challenge. The Toyota Center awaits the Gaels on Friday night, as they take on the Big XII’s #3 Baylor Bears. The Bears are largely accepted as one of the most talented teams in the nation, and they provide a totally different type of test than either Richmond or Villanova presented. Baylor is going to run up and down the court with the Gaels, a style that they aren’t afraid to play as well. F Ekpe Udoh is going to be the first true big man that Samhan has to run up against.

So once again, the small school boys from St. Mary’s… this bunch of Aussies and fellow international players that have come together to make some mish mosh of athletes… has its chance to shine. Imagine if G Paddy Mills hadn’t left school early to jump to the NBA just how frightening this team would be…

One thing is for certain about the Gaels, win or lose. No one is going to take away their charisma. If there’s an award in this tournament for having the biggest heart and the most passion for the game, the WCC champions would win it.

Instead, don’t be surprised if they take another step towards the Final Four on Friday night.

NCAA Basketball Top 10 Centers for 2009

January 2nd, 2010 by Travis Edwards (Bankroll Sports Contributor) | Posted in NCAA Basketball   Comments Off on NCAA Basketball Top 10 Centers for 2009
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A few weeks ago we broke down some of the most exciting players in college basketball giving you detailed looks at both the point and shooting guard positions. Now we want to switch focus from the back court to down inside the paint to break down some of the big men in the middle. Of course there are plenty of big forwards around the nation, but we actually want to break down the centers in college basketball. These are the beast on the inside that manufacture points and control the boards. Often times at the college level, centers do not get the respect they deserve. However, you never know when some emerging youngster is going to become a Dwight Howard type player in the NBA with the ability to capture 20 rebounds and 20 points per game. There is not any doubt that there are some big time centers on the hardwood this season in college basketball, but who are the best? Take a look as we break down the top 10 centers in college basketball.

#10. Dexter Pittman 6’10 (Texas)

Dexter Pittman is quite possibly the best center in the Big 12 and an experienced senior that has helped the Longhorns get off to an undefeated 12-0 start. Pittman has averaged 13.8 points per game even though his scoring is often times hot and cold. However, he is an extremely effective shot taker and is knocking down a lucrative 74% from the field. The problem that Pittman has is his size does not allow him to move around well without the ball and when he gets the ball he has troubles creating scoring opportunities. Also, the Longhorns would love for Pittman to increase his rebounding total on the inside. However, he is still a big time player and dropped a season high 23 points in the Longhorns biggest victory of the year against the North Carolina Tarheels.

#9. Jerome Jordan 7’0 (Tulsa)

Jerome Jordan is the 2nd of many seniors on our list. Jordan posted 13.8 points and 8.6 rebounds per game in his junior campaign. However, Jordan has started heating up in the past few weeks and it appears that he could have a great opportunity to increase those numbers from a year ago. Despite back to back losses, Jordan is just one rebound short of 3 straight double-double performances. Jordan is a big guy that normally takes high percentage shots close to the basket. In fact, he could finish his career with a 70% field goal percentage. Jordan has also become a solid defensive player and if he continues improving on the defensive side of the ball his stock will continue to rise.

#8. Soloman Alabi 7’1 (Florida State)

Soloman Alabi is a guy that is going to be a big force in a short time period. Alabi is an extremely big sophomore standing at 7’1 for the Seminoles of Florida State. Alabi is still developing, but leads the Seminoles with 12.3 points per game along with 7.1 rebounds. Alabi has proven to have the ability to post big scoring numbers, but the problem is consistency. Alabi has posted 20 plus points on 3 different occasions this season, but has also been held to less than 8 points on 4 occasions as well. If he can develop into the consistent threat the Seminoles need, he will be a big player in the ACC.

#7. Larry Sanders (Virginia Commonwealth)

Larry Sanders is the leading playmaker for the Virginia Commonwealth Rams and is grabbing some mainstream attention for his efforts. Sanders and the Rams play a pretty light schedule in terms of competition. However, Sanders has played well against the top teams on the schedule dropping 17 against Oklahoma and a season high 23 against East Carolina. Sanders currently averages 14.8 points per game and is also pulling down 8.5 rebounds on average as well. Sanders ability to grab some rebounds has improved dramatically since the start of the season and he could be averaging double-double figures by season’s end.

#6. Trevor Booker 6’7 (Clemson)

Trevor Bookers is a guy that many will have listed as a forward, but he actually plays as a center for the Tigers. Booker has been the rock for the Tigers over the past few years. He currently leads the team in scoring averaging 15 points per game against the brutal competition in the ACC while also bringing down 9 boards per game. Booker seems to always step up in the pressure situations whether it involves a needed basket or an important rebound. Clemson would definitely not be the team they are if not for their experienced senior in the paint.

#5. JaJuan Johnson 6’10 (Purdue)

JaJuan Johnson is coming off his biggest performance of the season posting 25 points against the Mountaineers on New Year’s Day. Johnson sometimes gets overshadowed behind teammates Robbie Hummel and E’Twaun Moore. However, Johnson is becoming a big scorer inside the paint and knocking down a healthy 54% from the floor. The Boilermakers are undefeated on the season and a big part of that can be contributed to Johnson’s 13.8 point average on the season. However, he still needs to improve against the glass before he becomes a dominating presence on the inside. Johnson’s 6.5 rebound average is the highest of his career and that is something that will definitely need to improve.

#4. Jarvis Varnado 6’9 (Mississippi State)

Jarvis Varnado has slowly developed into a monster for the Bulldogs inside the paint. Varnado leads the SEC as the all-time blocked shots leader and broke the single season record last year with 171 blocked shots. If Varnado can stay on pace, he will break the NCAA all-time blocked shots record at 535. However, Varnado can do much more than just block shots. He has slowly developed into a solid scoring threat averaging 14.1 points per game. Also, Varnado has steadily improved against the boards and this is his first season averaging over 10 rebounds per game. Varnado is a guy that with some continued hard work could make get immediate playing time at the next level just for his defensive tendencies, but overtime will contribute as a scorer.

#3. Omar Samhan 6’11 (St. Mary’s)

Omar Samhan may be a guy that few people know about around the nation, but he is a guy terrorizing the West Coast Conference. Samhan has exploded as a dominating scorer averaging 20.8 points and also takes care of business on the boards averaging 11 rebounds per game. Samhan is a big guy that moves around well and creates a lot of scoring opportunities. What may be even more impressive is that he tends to play very well against the top competition the Gaels’ face and has dropped a couple of 30 plus point performances. While Samhan may not face the level of competition that most will face, he is definitely an experienced threat that is proving his self week in and week out. A few games against Gonzaga and other respectable teams in the near future will give us an even better idea of just how good the St. Mary’s star has become.

#2. Greg Monroe 6’11 (Georgetown)

If you remember watching Georgetown last year, then perhaps you can recall the 7’0 monster kid on the inside that looked a little lost at time. Monroe had the size the moment he stepped on the court. However, Monroe spent most of his freshman year learning how to use that body. Monroe attempted very few shots in his freshman campaign, but still averaging 12.7 points per game with 6.5 rebounds. So far this season, Monroe is slowly emerging as the go to guy in the paint which should have been the case all along. However, Monroe has scored at least 15 points in 5 straight games and currently averaging 15 points with 10.3 rebounds per game. Monroe is definitely the guy with the most potential on our list and there is no doubt that he could be the top center in the nation by the end of the year. Considering the number of games he puts up really high rebounding totals, he will be an eye catcher on NBA Draft boards.

#1. Cole Aldrich 6’11 (Kansas)

Cole Aldrich put up some very solid numbers as a sophomore scoring 14.1 points and pulling down 11.1 rebounds per game. Easily the most experienced and possibly even one of the most important big men in the country for the number 1 Kansas Jayhawks. This season Aldrich is averaging double-double numbers yet again with 11.2 points and 10.1 rebounds per game. Aldrich is one of those guys that consistently get his numbers. However, once he learns how to use his body and become a true post player he is going to be even more dangerous at the next level. Most NBA scouts believe Aldrich will shine outside of the college system and some boards have him listed as a potential lottery pick in the NBA Draft.