Posts Tagged ‘St. Mary’s Gaels’

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.

Weekly Sports Betting Rap Sheet (3/22/10)

March 22nd, 2010 by Adam Markowitz (Bankroll Sports Columnist) | Posted in NCAA Basketball   Comments Off on Weekly Sports Betting Rap Sheet (3/22/10)
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Two rounds of the NCAA Tournament are now in the books, and here at Bankroll Sports, we’re giving all sorts of heck to the teams and players that were totally missing in action to cost their teams a shot at the National Championship.

Rap Sheet Picture of the Week

Kansas Jayhawks C Markieff Morris in disbelief after the #1 team in the land was bounced by an inferior Missouri Valley Conference foe.

Where else can we start than right at the top? The Kansas Jayhawks are going to be looked at as the biggest disappointment of this entire season. They were the #1 team in the land and the #1 overall seed in this tournament, and they knew that they were going to have to face a pair of mid-majors in this tournament before heading to the Sweet 16. It took a strong second half run for the Jayhawks to finally take out #16 Lehigh on Thursday, and it became increasingly clear that this was a squad that was disinterested with playing these small time inferior squads.

Enter the #9 Northern Iowa Panthers. If you want proof that this was an underachieving team, just look at how well the Jayhawks played when desperation finally set in. C Cole Aldrich looked like a man on a mission, and the defense was stifling down the stretch. But the great equalizer in this tournament, the three point shot, finally gave the Panthers a four point lead that they would never relent. Now, HC Bill Self has to answer a lot of questions about why team looked like garbage, and G Sherron Collins has to deal with criticism for shooting 0/6 from downtown in the team’s final game of the season. This was really, really inexcusable Kansas, and you know it.

However, the Jayhawks were the only disappointing group in the Midwest Region. The Georgetown Hoyas had to be considered a trendy selection to come out of this bracket, as they marched all the way to the Big East final before getting knocked off in the dying seconds by West Virginia. It didn’t take long to be bounced from the tournament that really mattered, though. Sure, we’ll listen to the fatigue factor thing, but let’s be realistic here. This first round debacle against the Ohio Bobcats was against a #14 seed who was a #9 in their own mid-major conference. No excuses. None whatsoever.

In fact, let’s just give a little bit of grief to the rest of the Big East. Remember when this league was supposed to have nine, ten, maybe even 11 teams in this tournament? Five of the eight teams were gone in the first three days of this tournament, and one of those teams that made it to the second round, the #2 Villanova Wildcats, nearly became the fifth #2 seed in the history of this tournament to lose to a #15 seed in the first round of the dance.

Here’s ranting on the Mountain West and the Atlantic 10 as well. Three days into the dance, and all four teams out of the MWC were already eliminated. Save watching Xavier in the A-10, watching this conference play ball in March Madness has been incredibly painful. Both the Temple Owls and the Richmond Spiders were crushed in their first round games by higher seeds.