Santa Clara (9-8, 2-2) at Saint Mary’s (12-4, 2-1)
Date: Thursday, January 9th, 2014
Location: McKeon Pavilion, Moraga, Calif.
Time: 7:00 p.m. PST
TV: CSN Bay Area, ROOT Sports NW & RM, TheW.tv
Radio: Saint Mary’s – smcgaels.com
Santa Clara – www.santaclarabroncos.com
Last Season: The Gaels won both matchups.
Coming off an overtime victory over LMU, the Santa Clara Broncos (9-8, 2-2) will look to retain their winning ways and reach the top half of the WCC standings. However, they will need get by Saint Mary’s to do that.
Saint Mary’s (12-4, 2-1) got back on track Saturday with a win over Portland after being shellacked by its rival, Gonzaga on Thursday.
Keys to the Game
Three-point shooting guards: Part of what made the Gaels so successful in non-conference play was their ability to shoot the three-ball with great success. In non-conference play, Kerry Carter, Stephen Holt and James Walker III shot a combined 44.9 percent from three-point land. In conference play, the trio has tailed off, converting only 37.0 percent of their shots from three-point land.
The Gaels need to get back on track in this facet of the game, especially to keep up with the high-scoring guards of Santa Clara. They can do this by pounding the ball inside with Waldow and Levesque initially, forcing the defense to collapse down, which ultimately will leave shooters with open shots. This is something that Saint Mary’s did very well in the non-conference that the Gaels need to revert back to.
Low Post Scoring: The Broncos have only gotten 5 10+ scoring outings from its big men this season, all of which came from senior forward Jerry Brown.
This has been a reoccurring problem for the Broncos all season long and they need to get more contributions from its forwards/centers in order to stay competitive in the conference. Considering the Broncos are facing a frontcourt consisting of Levesque and Waldow, this would not be the worst time for Santa Clara to bolster its low post scoring.
Matchup of the Game
Each player is their respective team’s most productive player in the paint, but they play much differently. Brown finds success corralling offensive rebounds and scoring off those. Unlike Brown, Waldow has a plethora of post moves he can resort to and can finish with either hand.
Seeing these two matchup with each other will be interesting, based on their contrasting play styles.
How good is Saint Mary’s in actuality? The Gaels looked very dangerous at the start of the season, where they defeated a slew on quality mid-majors at McKeon Pavilion and knocked off Boise State on the road. Since then, Saint Mary’s lost three straight games at the Diamond Head Classic in Hawai’i and was blown out in Spokane by the Zags.
Was Saint Mary’s performance at the beginning of the year all smoke and mirrors or was it legit? The Gaels next 5 or so games will be a testament to how good they are this season.
I digress, but I think the Gaels have the firepower to knock off the Broncos at home. Saint Mary’s 78, Santa Clara 61.