2008 Saint Marys Gaels Basketball Preview
The Saint Mary’s Gaels (25- 7 overall, 12- 2 WCC) were second in the WCC last season. This year four starters return, two of whom are top players in the league. Head coach Randy Bennett guided last year’s team to one of its best seasons ever. With two potential All-Conference players returning, a WCC Championship is a possibility and a NCAA berth could be in this club’s immediate future.
Forward Diamon Simpson , a senior, has fine offensive and defensive skills. The versatile Simpson averaged 13.4 PPG and 9.6 RPG. In the area of defense, Simpson is a fine shot blocker and tenacious one-on-one defender. He’s an All-WCC player. Junior center Omar Samhan (10.5 PPG, 7.3 RPG) and senior forward Ian O’Leary (7.6 PPG, 4.8 RPG) are both fine performers. Samhan, who is six-foot-eleven, is capable of scoring a number of different ways. O’Leary is an athletic slasher, offering inside scoring. Former Indiana reserve center Ben Allen will provide important minutes off the bench.
In the backcourt, guard Patrick Mills, also an All-WCC talent, led the team last year, his freshman season, in scoring (14.8 PPG) and assists (3.5 APG). Mills, who is from Australia, should be even more effective this season. He’s a crunch time player with excellent basketball smarts and fine play-making skills. However, if there’s a place where this team is thin, it’s in the back. For Bennett the key will be finding the right player or players who match up with Mills’ abilities.
There’s depth, balance and athleticism on this team. The Gaels will certainly play Gonzaga tooth and nail. Saint Mary’s has the potential to make a NCAA appearance. If they do, the club will probably play one game and be eliminated from the tournament. Last year, they earned an at-large invite. This season, it could be a conference championship that gets them in the door. This is a solid team that will be fun to watch.