#130 Saint Mary's Men's Basketball 2014-2015 Preview

Saint Mary’s Gaels

2013-2014 Overall Rank: #130
Conference Rank: #6 WCC

Saint Mary's Team Page#130 Saint Mary's Men's Basketball 2014-2015 PreviewBuy Saint Mary's Basketball Tickets

Saint Mary’s got off to a hot start last season, winning their first nine games, but the Gaels followed that up by losing their next three and never got back on track, going 14-12 down the stretch to finish 23-12. The Gaels finished fourth in the WCC, but still earned an NIT berth, where they beat Utah before falling to Minnesota. Head Coach Randy Bennett has built the Saint Mary’s program into a WCC power and he will look to guide the Gaels back to the NCAA tournament, something he’s done five times, including back-to-back appearances in 2012 and 2013.

2013-14 Record: 23-12, 11-7
2013-14 Postseason: NIT
Coach: Randy Bennett
Coach Record: 283-137 at Saint Mary’s, 283-137 Overall

Who’s Out:
Three starters depart off last season’s Saint Mary’s team, led by guard Stephen Holt. Holt was key to the Gael’s success in a number of categories, as he led the team in scoring, 15.2 points per game, assists, 3.9 per game, and was third in rebounding, 3.8 per game. He was joined in the everyday lineup by guard James Walker III, 9.8 points and a team leading 1.4 steals per game last year, and forward Beau Levesque, 9.2 points, 5.3 rebounds and 2.3 assists per game last season. Center Matt Hodgson, who appeared in 34 of the teams 35 games, is gone, as are Paul McCoy and Eividas Petrilus, who appeared in 30 and 18 games respectively last season.

Who’s In:
Saint Mary’s was hit hard with recruiting sanctions after 2012-13, but that hasn’t stopped Bennett from reloading this year. The Gaels bring in five new players who are eligible this season, led by three high level transfers. The gem of the class is Joe Coleman, a Minnesota transfer. A former ESPN Top 100 recruit and the 2011 Minnesota Mr. Basketball played two seasons at Minnesota under Tubby Smith before transferring when Smith was let go as head coach. In those two seasons, Coleman saw significant playing time, starting 52 games while averaging 7.2 points. Bennett was also able to bring in Aaron Bright, a point guard who averaged 8.7 points and 2.9 assists per game over three seasons at Stanford, and Desmond Simmons, a forward who averaged 4.7 points and 5.4 rebounds per game in three seasons at Washington. Bennett brought in two high school recruits to complete the class and both add size to a team that lacked it. Evan Fitzer, a 6-foot-10 center from San Diego, and Jock Landale, a 6-foot-11 center from Australia, could both be counted on early, as the team has nobody else taller than 6-foot-9 on their roster. In addition to the five player recruiting class, Saint Mary’s also has Calvin Hermanson and Emmett Naar, a pair of redshirts from last year, in the fold this season.  

Who to Watch:
Three players who started at least 15 games last season are back and give the Gaels some experience to build around. Brad Waldow started 33 of Saint Mary’s 35 games last season, averaging 15.1 points, 7.5 rebounds and 1.3 blocks per game, and his play in the frontcourt will be key for the Gaels. Guard Kerry Carter, 9.8 points and 3.3 rebounds per game, and Jordan Giusti, 3.0 points, 1.7 rebounds and 1.2 assists per game, started 19 and 15 games respectively last year and could see their roles increase in the 2014-15 season. Giusti is a former walk-on, and while he could lose his starting spot with Bright and Coleman coming in, he should still get quality playing time. Garret Jackson also returns after averaging 3.9 points in 24 games in his first season after transferring from USC, but there is very little experience beyond that. Dale Pineau, a 6-foot-9 forward, played in 27 games, including two starts, last season as a freshman, while Treaven Duffy saw action in just eight games as a first year player.

Final Projection:
With the majority of last season’s production gone, Saint Mary’s will need the transfers to step in and produce. All three are big time players who have shown they are capable of doing just that throughout their careers, so the Gaels look to be in good hands. While the transfers will be counted on heavily, the difference makers could be the freshman big men Fitzer and Landale. Both players provide size that the Gaels have lacked recently and it could help them contend in the WCC.

Projected Postseason Tournament: CBI/CIT

Projected Starting Five:
Aaron Bright, Senior, Guard, 5.9 points per game at Stanford
Kerry Carter, Senior, Guard, 9.8 points per game
Joe Coleman, Junior, Guard, DNP last season
Desmond Simmons, Senior, Forward, 5.2 points per game at Washington
Brad Waldow, Senior, Forward, 15.1 points per game

By the Numbers:
Scoring Offense: 71.5 (152nd in nation, 7th in conference)
Scoring Defense: 65.5 (61, 2)
Field-Goal Percentage: 45.0 (131, 6)
Field-Goal Defense: 44.8 (237, 7)
Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 7.0 (99, 3)  
Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 38.4 (36, 3)
Free-Throw Percentage: 70.8 (146, 6)
Rebound Margin: 4.1 (49, 2)
Assists Per Game: 12.3 (200, 8)
Turnovers Per Game: 11.7 (116, 5)


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