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Scouting Saint Mary's

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Regardless of the drama, agony, joy, relief, whatever adjective you want to use, since Villanova escaped today, the season continues. The next game is in less than 48 hours, so dwelling on today's game will provide no help moving ahead towards Saturday's showdown with the St. Mary's Gaels.

Just like Jay Wright said in the post-game press conference, in the NCAA Tournament, the attitude is survive and advance. Each round is a 1 game tournament; the Cats won their first 1 game tournament and now, it's on to the next one.  Obviously, the opponents do not get easier, and as I mentioned before, up next for Villanova is the Gaels of St. Mary's.

Scouting report after the jump...

  • Conference: West Coast Conference (WCC)
  • Head Coach: Randy Bennett
  • Record: 26-5 (11-3) - Won WCC Championship
  • Common Opponents: None
  • Roster Breakdown: 3 Seniors, 3 Juniors, 1 Sophomore, 8 Freshman   
  • The Skinny: Although very young, the Gaels pose some matchup problems, especially inside. Two of the three seniors on the team, Ben Allen and Omar Samhan, are 6'11" big guys who can pound on the block down low.  Allen averages 10.8 ppg and 7.6 rpg, but Samhan is the true thoroughbred on this team.  His stat-line says it all--20.9 ppg, 11 rpg, and 3 blocks per game. In addition to St. Mary's formidable post presence, they have a few sharpshooters who can stroke from deep. They are Matt Dellavedova and Mickey McConnell, who both average double figures in scoring, with the former hitting treys at a 41% clip and McConnell shooting a blistering 51% from downtown. 
  • Key Stat: The Gaels usually run a 8 man rotation, and of these 8 guys, 5 shoot free throws at 80% or above.  This could be the difference should a close game transpire on Saturday.

My thoughts: Obviously, if the Cats don't pick up their play, an exit is very imminent. In terms of the opponent, though, I actually like that Villanova gets to play St. Mary's as opposed to Richmond. Sure, the size advantage scares me, but if Mouphtaou Yarou and Maurice Sutton give another effort like they did today and maybe if Antonio Pena actually grows a pair between now and then, the Cats can hang in on the glass. In addition, with St. Mary's being on the west coast, the majority of the crowd should be pro-Villanova.  Hopefully, a favorable crowd can get the Cats going early and often.  Overall, the Wildcats are much more athletic, and in no way do I expect another abysmal shooting performance by the good guys. 

Quick sidenote: Here is Robert Morris head coach Mike Rice's interview with Mike Francesa following the game today, but let's hope we have moved on. I have, even though the palpitations in my chest haven't. 

Added by Chris:

I really think the key matchup here is Yarou and Samhan. Samhan just took over today and crushed Richmond. It is a tall task for the freshman, but he has been playing phenomenal lately and I'm hopeful he can limit Samhan and do some damage of his own.

I don't think Scottie Reynolds will having a shooting day like he had today again. We're going to need help from a lot of other areas though if we're going to right this ship in time to get back to the Sweet Sixteen.