#56 Saint Mary’s Gaels: College Basketball 111 in 111

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Welcome to The Sports Bank’s fourth annual college basketball season preview series where we break 111 teams in the 111 days leading up to the opening tip-off of the 2013-2014 season.  We will rank the 84 power conference teams (including the new Big East and American Athletic Conferences) and top 27 mid-majors in reverse power ranking order.  We’ll break down rosters, transfers, incoming freshmen, non-conference schedules, and pick a player to watch for each team.

With six straight 25-plus win seasons, the Saint Mary’s Gaels remain one of the more successful and dangerous mid-major programs in the country.  Randy Bennett does face a major challenge this year though having to replace three starters including Matthew Dellavedova who will go down as one of the best players in school history.

SAINT MARY’S GAELS
Last Season: 2nd, 14-2 in WCC, 28-7 overall
Predicted WCC Finish: 3rd

Projected Depth Chart
F/C: Brad Waldow (Sr)/Matt Hodgson (Sr)
F: Beau Levesque (Sr)/Dane Pineau (Fr)
SF: Garrett Jackson (Jr)/Calvin Hermanson (Fr)/Eividas Petrulis (Jr)
SG: James Walker (Jr)/Kerry Carter (Jr)/Treaven Duffy (Fr)
PG: Stephen Holt (Sr)/Jordan Giusti (Jr)/Paul McCoy (Sr)

Gone: PG-Matthew Dellavedova, G-Jorden Page, PF-Mitchell Young, C-Kyle Rowley, PF-Tim Williams

2013-2014 Outlook:
With Dellavedova, Mickey McConnell, and going back to Patty Mills, stability at the point guard position has not been a recent issue for the Saint Mary’s Gaels.  That will not be the case this year though with no definitive answer as to who will emerge as the team’s floor general.  Unless sophomore Jordan Giusti is ready to take the reins, Bennett might have to turn to Stephen Holt who has been more accustomed to playing off the ball during his first three years.  Former SMU transfer Paul McCoy is another option but having torn his ACL three times and gone through four knee surgeries, it is doubtful he has the longevity to be the guy.

The Gaels also bring in new faces on the wing headlined by USC transfer Garrett Jackson.  He should start at small forward with last year’s reserve wing James Walker moving into the starting shooting guard spot.  JUCO transfer Kerry Carter and talented freshman Calvin Hermanson should somehow factor into the equation off the bench while Elvidas Petrulis and redshirt freshman Treaven Duffy try to earn some PT as well.

Inside, returning starter Brad Waldow anchors the middle with last year’s sixth man Beau Lavesque expected to move into the starting five.  Lavesque can light it up from deep having connected on nearly 45% of his three-point attempts last season and needs to become more of a focal point of the offense.

6-11 Matt Hodgson adds some size and a needed rim protector in the paint while Australian freshman Dane Pineau is another face-up four who can stretch defenses with his perimeter touch.  Without a ton of depth inside, don’t be surprised if Bennett uses a smaller lineup at times by moving Jackson to the four and flanking him with three guards.

Without having that go-to option like Dellavedova, McConnell, or Mills to lean on, I think Saint Mary’s will take a slight step back in the WCC this season.  The Gaels don’t have an overly challenging non-conference schedule either which will hurt their RPI come tourney time.  As long as Bennett is running the show, I certainly won’t rule out a return trip to the Big Dance but it seems less likely this season compared to recent years.

Player to Watch: Stephen Holt
This is really the first time in seven seasons that the Gaels enter the season without a firm grip as to who will be their lead guard.  Holt is undoubtedly the most talented scorer of the bunch but how will he handle the likely move to point guard?  He won’t run the offense full-time as he should still spend plenty of time playing off the ball and has to be the guy St. Mary’s turns to in the crunch when they need a big time basket.

Key Non-Conference Games:
11/8 vs. Louisiana Tech
11/12 vs. Akron
11/30 vs. Murray State
12/14 at Boise State
12/22 vs. South Carolina (Diamond Head Classic)
12/22 vs. Boise State/Hawaii (Diamond Head Classic)
12/22 vs. Iowa State/George Mason/Oregon State/Akron (Diamond Head Classic)

OTHER 111 IN 111’S:
#57 Maryland
#58 Butler
#59 Minnesota
#60 Florida Gulf Coast
#61 Akron
#62 Temple
#63 Alabama
#64 Florida State
#65 Arkansas
#66 N.C. State
#67 Kansas State
#68 Davidson
#69 Dayton
#70 Miami FL
#71 SMU
#72 Texas A&M
#73 Long Beach State
#74 UMass
#75 Northwestern
#76 Indiana State
#77 Georgia Tech
#78 Oklahoma
#79 Richmond
#80 Manhattan
#81 Belmont
#82 Texas
#83 Houston
#84 Washington State
#85 Iona
#86 Oregon State
#87 Louisiana Tech
#88 Towson
#89 Wake Forest
#90 Central Florida
#91 Rutgers
#92 Drexel
#93 USC
#94 Charleston
#95 Seton Hall
#96 Vanderbilt
#97 George Mason
#98 Clemson
#99 Penn State
#100 Nebraska
#101 West Virginia
#102 South Florida
#103 Mississippi State
#104 DePaul
#105 South Carolina
#106 Texas Tech
#107 TCU
#108 Virginia Tech
#109 Georgia
#110 Utah
#111 Auburn

David Kay is a senior feature NBA DraftNBA, and college basketball writer for the Sports Bank.  He also heads up the NBA and college basketball material at Walter Football.com and is a former contributor at The Washington Times Communities.  David has appeared on numerous national radio programs spanning from Cleveland to New Orleans to Honolulu to Milwaukee.  He also had the most accurate 2011 NBA Mock Draft and the most accurate 2012 NBA Mock Draft on the internet , AND the second most accurate 2013 NBA Mock Draft. (Yup, nearly 3peat champ… #humblebrag.)

You can follow him on Twitter at David_Kmiecik.

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