WCC Tournament Team Preview: Saint Mary’s


#3 Saint Mary’s Gaels

Record: 21-8, 13-5

Postseason Prediction: NIT Tournament

WCC Tournament – Quarterfinals:

  • Saturday, March 7, 2015
  • Time: 12:00 PM Pacific
  • Opponent: #6 Portland (16-14, 7-11)

Stats Leaders:

  • Points: Brad Waldow (19.1 PPG)
  • Rebounds: Brad Waldow (9.0 RPG)
  • Assists: Emmett Naar (4.0 APG)


Things really derailed for the Gaels in the second half of conference play after they were rolling at the start looking like nobody but Gonzaga would challenge them. They went just 3-4 over their final seven games including a very bad loss to Santa Clara to end their season and a near bad loss to San Diego in double overtime. They went from a spot on the bubble to the NCAA Tournament and a #2 seed in Vegas to the #3 seed and having virtually no chance of making the Big Dance unless they can win the entire WCC Tournament. Unfortunately, they are at a very low point which may affect their ability to make that run.

How the Gaels Can Win it All

In the first half of conference play, this team was unstoppable. Brad Waldow was playing like a Player of the Year candidate, and a very talented supporting cast was doing everything right around him. Aaron Bright has been a great floor general, and he been able to break off do more shooting with the emergence of All-Freshman Team selection Emmett Naar who actually beat out Bright to finish first on the team with assists. Backed up by the near triple-double potential of Kerry Carter and the strong inside play of Desmond Simmons and Garrett Jackson, this is a very complete team that can beat any team in the WCC including Gonzaga.

To win it all, everything of course starts with Waldow. He had one of his worst games against Santa Clara at the end of the season, and the Gaels cannot afford to not exploit his advantage over most big men, especially in Vegas. But they also need big efforts from Jackson and Simmons who can put up big points totals themselves. When they’re doing well, it takes attention of Waldow making it easier for him to work. This will be especially big if they reach the finals and face Gonzaga who has one of the other deepest front lines in the conference.

In the backcourt, Carter and Bright must be shooting well, and it wouldn’t hurt if Carter is chipping in strong rebounding numbers as well. Naar and Bright should do fine leading the offense, and if both are putting up good assists numbers versus just one it’s a nice bonus. But at the end of the day, the big men will need to carry them to the title. If the bigs are doing well, they can easily overwhelm the weaker frontcourts of Portland and BYU, leaving just a battle with Gonzaga that they could match up well in as their only hurdle. The just need to get there, and they will have a fighting shot.

Predicted Finish

Portland is struggling right now, especially their frontcourt. They will probably have to shoot to much, which is good news for the Gaels big men. The Gaels should have no trouble with them in the quarterfinals. Then it gets tough, as the road likely goes through both BYU and Gonzaga to win it all. With the way they stumbled to the finish, it’s hard to see them upsetting both of them in back-to-back games.

If the Cougars are shooting cold by that point, the Gaels could easily blow by them. But the Cougars have shown off an improved inside presence lately, and that’s not good for a team like the Gaels that need that advantage, especially against a team that shoots well. Right now the Cougars are more hot than cold, so the Gaels will probably fall in the semifinals. And even if they don’t they won’t get past Gonzaga in the finals as their inability to start fast will put them behind early as the Bulldogs pull away.