Thursday, November 12, 2009

Scouting St. Mary's

Robert Lumpkins practiced on Thursday and will play tonight as will Kelly Merker, Bandja Sy and even wing Tyrone Watson. Lumpkins was nursing an ankle injury but is expected to play.

I spoke with assistant coach Mick Durham, who said that the Gaels go through 6-11, 260 pound center Omar Samhan. Samhan does have a bit of a challenge though because he doesn't have an experienced player in the frontcourt with him after Diiamon Simpson, who was a three-time first team WCC forward, graduated. The Aggies will need to get into transition and knock down the open shots because Samhan ranked 40th in the country last year in blocks per game. The experience factor should also be interesting because St. Mary's have three fifth-year seniors on the roster. junior guard Mickey McConnell replaced Pat Mills early in the season last year and now runs the show. Duram believes freshman Matt Dellavedova (one of three newcomers from Australia) will back him up and can shoot better than Dellavedova. McConnell and Dellavedova could be the starting backcourt when the Gaels come to Las Cruces next year. St. Mary's had scrimmages against Washington and Nevada.

Here are some comments from St. Mary's ninth-year coach Randy Bennett, who has spent his entire career at St. Mary's, starting with his relationships in Australia when he was an assistant coach at St. Louis and he brought Andrew Latimer over.
"If you are not one of the big bigs and in one of the big conferences, you have to find different areas to recruit. Somehow you have to find good players. There are lots of good coaches in this country and what is hard to find is good players, good kids who are good students. For us we found a niche and have established with a pretty good name. Marvin has done that too in Africa. Nowadays it's a global game and if you have a strong connection you have to tap into it. (Latimer) helped me know who to touch base with in Australia. There weren't that many in Australia coming over. There were guys there but in the last six or seven years they have been a lot more coming over."

On getting NMSU on the schedule for a home and home
"It's a basketball rich tradition. Marvin has done a good job and they have a bunch of good players and athletes. Playing in Las Cruces is one of the toughest places to play and fortunately we don't have to go there this year but next year we will. People recognize them in the west and those are the types of teams that we try to play in home and homes. I think we are both struggling to find home games and this is one that our fans recognize will be a good team."

On his team being picked third in the West Coast Conference behind Gonzaga and Portland
"The bottom of the league is better and hopefully the top is as good as it was last year but I'm pretty sure the bottom has come up and we needed that to happen for our league. Our RPI wasn't as good last year as it has been. When the bottom teams are better, that's when you can get your league pretty good. There was a pretty big gap the past couple of years and hopefully that has closed."


Unknown said...

SMC was a great rebounding team last year. They'll dominate us on the boards, and we'll probably have to outgun them to win. This sounds depressing, but it's actually far more possible than you think with JY, Jgib, and Gordo.

Sound familiar?

Anonymous said...

This will be an interesting year and St. Mary's is a good start. The Aggies are very deep and potentially very good. The biggest weakness will be rebounding, even after WM and TG return. The defense and free throw shooting is inconsistent and may cost us in a few games. I think 4 losses going into league play is realistic but 2 losses is a realistic goal. It is tough to overcome home court in college BB. The WAC is deep enough that we could finish anywhere from 1st to 5th. Unless we win the conf championship or tournament, the NIT is where we should end up. This is because the NCAA doesn't give the WAC any credit as a BB conference and doesn't give us any at large bids. The biggest thing we need to do is fill Pan Am with fans not whiners, complainers or those who leave with 15 minutes left in the game. The students need to come out as well to retain a good home court advantage.

Anonymous said...

Every year deserving teams like the Gaels sit on the bubble during the conf chmpshps and then have to go NIT when some conference like the WAC or MEAC has an upset tournament winner. I'm not dissing mid-majors, just dissing the overacheivers that don't know when to roll over. Aggies should know the Vegas line is not with them. NMSU is fortunate to get this game because it's an experience builder for conference battles 7 weeks away.

Anonymous said...

Aussie, Aussie, Aussie; oy,oy,oy!

Justin, as you say, every so often a team comes out and the bucket looks huge. It could happen. Aggies could be a team this year that capitalizes on opponents' mistakes while not giving too much away. Hernst kept the TO's down and put a premium on valuing each possession. This might counter Randy Bennett's Australians?

Anonymous said...

we're getting embarrassed. down 31. terrible

Anonymous said...

Record going into Conf will be no less than 8 losses....