NCAA March Madness Preview – Saint Mary’s Gaels

Saint Mary’s Gaels

West Coast (28-4, 16-2)

 by Joel Welser

Outside of an early season loss to Texas-Arlington, the only time Saint Mary’s lost during the 2016-2017 season was to Gonzaga. Those are certainly not bad losses. However, the Gaels have the same problem that Gonzaga usually has; the schedule has not been tough and it remains to be seen if the Gaels are prepared to make a deep run in March.

 Big Wins: 11/11 Nevada (81-63), 11/19 at Dayton (61-57), 2/18 at BYU (70-57)

Bad Losses: 12/8 Texas-Arlington (51-65), 1/14 at Gonzaga (56-79), 2/11 Gonzaga (64-74)

Coach: Randy Bennett

Why They Can Surprise:

Saint Mary’s defense has been stellar this season and they can stick with just about anybody. The opposition scores just 56.6 points per game, which ranks second only to Virginia in the country. The emergence of junior center Jock Landale has given the Gaels a true force in the paint. Landale leads the team with 16.8 points, 9.3 rebounds and 1.2 blocks and he will team up with fellow center Evan Fitzner to give this Saint Mary’s team a very big frontcourt. Dane Pineau will play starters minutes off the bench and is a very good rebounder and shot blocker. Throw Jordan Hunter into the mix and the Gaels can go toe to toe in the paint with most teams in the country.

Why They Can Disappoint:

The group on the perimeter is talented too. Emmett Naar and Joe Rahon are both great passers who do an amazing job taking care of the basketball. Naar dishes out 5.8 assists per game with 2.4 turnovers, while Rahon adds 5.7 assists and just 1.7 turnovers per game. That is impressive. This is an offense that is extremely efficient in all aspects of the game. However, the Gaels lack that super talented leader on the perimeter that the great Saint Mary’s teams usually have.

Calvin Hermanson, a 6-6 wing, is a fine perimeter scorer and a very dangerous outside shooter, but the leadership role has moved into the paint with Landale. The Gaels do not need a Patty Mills or Matthew Dellavedova to make a decent run in March, but having a leader who can also handle the ball is very important during the NCAA Tournament. Rahon and Naar will need to have big games for Saint Mary’s to make a run to the Sweet Sixteen and beyond.

Probable Starters:

Joe Rahon, Senior, Guard, 8.1 ppg, 5.7 apg, 3.8 rpg

Emmett Naar, Junior, Guard, 9.5 ppg, 5.8 apg

Calvin Hermanson, Junior, Forward, 13.0 ppg, 2.9 rpg

Evan Fitzner, Sophomore, Center, 5.7 ppg, 3.3 rpg

Jock Landale, Junior, Center, 16.8 ppg, 9.3 rpg, 1.2 rpg

Key Role Players:

Dane Pineau, Senior, Forward, 6.7 ppg, 6.2 rpg, 1.1 rpg

Jordan Hunter, Sophomore, Center, 1.9 ppg, 1.7 rpg

Tanner Krebs, Freshman, Guard, 3.8 ppg

By the Numbers:

Scoring Offense: 72.2 (204th in nation, 3rd in conference)

Scoring Defense: 56.1 (2, 1)

Field-Goal Percentage: 49.8 (6, 2)

Field-Goal Defense: 41.0 (43, 3)

Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 8.7 (68, 3)

Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 39.3 (25, 1)

Free-Throw Percentage: 74.4 (46, 1)

Rebound Margin: 10.0 (2, 1)

Assists Per Game: 16.8 (17, 1)

Turnovers Per Game: 10.5 (16, 2)

Recent Postseason Appearances:

2016    NIT     First Round win over New Mexico State

2016    NIT     Second Round win over Georgia

2016    NIT     Quarterfinal loss to Valparaiso

2015    NIT     First Round loss to Vanderbilt

2014    NIT     First Round win over Utah

2014    NIT     Second Round loss to Minnesota

2013    NCAA Opening Round win over Middle Tennessee

2013    NCAA Round of 64 loss to Memphis

2012    NCAA Round of 64 loss to Purdue

2011    NIT     First Round loss to Kent State

2010    NCAA Round of 64 win over Richmond

2010    NCAA Round of 32 win over Villanova

2010    NCAA Regional Semifinal loss to Baylor

2009    NIT     First Round win over Washington State

2009    NIT     Second Round win over Davidson

2009    NIT     Quarterfinal loss to San Diego State

2008    NCAA Round of 64 loss to Miami

2005    NCAA Round of 64 loss to Southern Illinois

*all team stats through 3/5

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