San Francisco Dons (11-6, 4-1) at Saint Mary’s (12-5, 2-2)
Date: Saturday, January 11th, 2014
Location: McKeon Pavilion, Moraga, Calif.
Time: 3:00 p.m. PST
TV: CSN California, ROOT Sports NW & RM, TheW.tv
Radio: Saint Mary’s – smcgaels.com
San Francisco –USFDons.com LiveStats: http://www.smcgaels.com/liveStats/liveStats.dbml?SPID=12536&DB_OEM_ID=21400&LIST_SPORT_KEY=M_BASKETBALL
Last Season: Saint Mary’s won each matchup by a combined total of 10 points.
James Walker III
Saint Mary’s had to watch one of their rivals – Santa Clara – celebrate a buzzer beater on their home floor after freshman sharpshooter Jared Brownridge drilled a deep contested three to down the Gaels. There is no doubt that the Gaels will play extremely angry and with a purpose against USF after that.
However, playing angry might not be enough to knock off the Dons. San Francisco is tied for the first in the WCC and the Pilots have won 4 out of their last 5 contests.
The Gaels get back their head coach Randy Bennett after he served a 5 game suspension. The Gaels went 3-2 in his absence.
Keys to the Game
Force the offense through someone other than Waldow: When the Saint Mary’s Gaels are running their offense through center Brad Waldow, they are at their best. He has a bevy of post moves and is a more than capable passer out of the post.
The Dons need to deny Waldow the ball whenever possible. They can do this by sloping a defender over him, or doubling when he gets the ball. If this leaves shooters open, so be it, but the Dons cannot let Waldow get easy looks or it will be a long night for them.
Don’t Lose Twice to Santa Clara
It is imperative that the Gaels do not let the Santa Clara Broncos beat them twice in two separate nights.
Saint Mary’s can do this by taking a deep breath – metaphorically speaking – and let the game come to them rather than forcing the issuing. Rushing shots and not running offensive sets will eventually doom the Gaels. Thankfully for Saint Mary’s, Randy Bennett will make sure his team does exactly the opposite.
Matchup of the Game
The Versatile Forwards: Mark Tollefsen v. Beau Levesque
Tollefsen and Levesque are two very similar players that create an interesting matchup. Tollefsen is a little more athletic while Levesque is more technically sound, but both can score inside, shoot outside and rebound.
These are both X-Factor type players that can impact the game greatly. Out of these two big men, the one that makes the bigger impact could propel their team to victory.
With Coach Bennett fresh off a suspension, the Gaels are expected to play a little better. However, will it be enough to knock off USF, who is playing their best basketball of the season? I predict the Gaels will fall just short. San Francisco 75, Saint Mary’s 72.