WCC Game 3: @ Saint Mary's

Tip-off: 6PM

TV: CBS Sports Network

Line: Broncos +7, 23% win probability on Torvik. Also 23% win probability, no line on ESPN.

13-4 overall, 1-1 in the WCC with a loss to BYU and win over Pepp. Their game last Saturday was postponed due to Pacific’s COVID issues. The Gaels have quality non-con wins over Notre Dame, Oregon and Utah St. All losses are over quality teams: Wisconsin, Colo St. and SDSU.
SMC’s roster is more or less the same as last season, IMO not overly talented, a far cry from Landale/Naar or Samhan/McConnell/Dellavedova teams. But IMO, Bennett is the best coach in league, at least in terms of getting the most out of the talent he has and adjusting to the strengths of his team…the solid results with not very talented and unathletic teams the past 2 seasons is evidence of that. This SMC squad isn’t great offensively, is playing slow, grind it out games and relying on a strong defense. On Torvik, they are ranked 13th in defensive efficiency and 150th on offense.
Center Matthias Taas has been their best player this season, averaging 12+ pts and 6+ rebounds /game. Taas will be a handful for Braun or Vrankic…whoever draws the matchup. Guard Logan Johnson is probably their best athlete but has struggled with his shooting this season with eFG% of only 47%. 4 games ago, Tommy Kuhse was replaced in the starting lineup by top freshman recruit Augustas Marciulionis (Sarunas’ son), though Kuhse is still getting more PT than Marciulionis. Not sure why Bennett made that change as Kuhse has been shooting fairly well. Forward Kyle Bowen (top rebounder) and wing Alex Ducas (team leader in made 3’s) round out their starting lineup.

This will be an interesting game of contrasts, the Broncos effective Offense vs. SMC’s stellar D. SMC will want to slow the pace, the Broncos will need to push the pace when they can and look for good scoring opportunities early in the shot clock.

Prediction: Broncos have beaten the Gaels two years in row, on the road no less…Broncos make it 3 years in a row: 74-71.

I feel only slightly conflicted on these games versus SMC, BYU, and USF. Basically, I think the Broncos are good enough to win 2/5 of those games or maybe do even better. And I think that better than 2/5 would likely land SCU in the NIT. But it would probably also force at least one of those teams out of the NCAA (all are projected to make the Tournament if the bracket was set today). So SCU outperforming right now would cost the conference as a whole.

If it were USD and LMU instead of SMC and USF, I would feel more conflicted. But I say beat SMC good and have them really sweat on selection Sunday.

SCU exposes SMC 71-61. Josip has a great game with 18 pts and 9 boards.

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Not conflicted at all when it comes to SMC and USF. Always want to beat them. I do understand it could cost us money but wins are more important than cash. I do think 2 of 5 is doable and maybe 3 of 5.

Interesting that SCU limits attendance whereas I do not think USF and SMC are doing the same. Of course our attendance is limited by fan and student disinterest.


Great write up ‘92.

Agree it’s a battle of pace situation. What makes st Mary’s especially tricky is that rarely will even adjust to their opponents’ pace. Ie. Even a quick early run, they will try to claw their way back into the game.

It will be a true test of wills to keep our pace up on offense. Really hope it’s not a Fresno st esque game where we were totally bullied.

3-2 over the next 12 days (smc, usd, byu, Usf, pac) would be a good result.

I say a 68-61 broncos upset


No love lost in playing smc and Usf. Would love to beat them and ruin their tourney hopes.

Sendek always allows the opponent to dictate pace. He never makes an adjustment. It would be easy to speed up SMC, but he won’t even try.

Gaels will expose Herb’s man D and look rather efficient on offense (something that they generally struggle with). They do play solid D though, and match-up well with SCU. I don’t see this one ending well.

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I’m with Maddog and Midwest on this one…beat SMC and USF whenever, wherever and however possible, let the chips fall where the may on tourney invites, etc.

Besides, we will likely be no worse than Quad 2 in NET as long as we don’t implode in league play and thus not hurt USF, BYU or SMC tourney hopes all that much if we beat them. What those teams can’t do is lose to UOP, Portland, Pepp, etc.

as a team, SMC is shooting about 33% from 3-pt land. That pretty much holds true for all of the players, with the exception of Kuhse, who is at about 47%.

seems like a perfect time to throw in a box-and-one D (with the “one” blanketing Kuhse) on random possessions and see if it works. But as betterer has pointed out on multiple occasions, it is unlikely that HS plays anything but a pedestrian M2M defense.

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Seems simple enough… try to take away what your opponent does best and make them beat you some other way. NFL teams make major defensive strategic adjustments from week to week just to try and accomplish that. Unless you have vastly superior athletes adjustments are the recipe for overcoming against a quality opponent.

Any word on Bediako? Seems like the last news we heard was that he had about a 3-4 week healing process (which was 4+ weeks ago).


Was wondering the same, he was injured on 12/4 so it’s been closer to 6 weeks. Big guys and foot injuries are often troublesome.
Could use his size vs. Tass, BYU’s bigs and USF’s Massalski.

I’m afraid I agree with Mr Better on this one. SMC plays excellent M2M defense (even without exceptional athletes), so our good clean looks will be limited. Unless the Broncs drain a bunch of 3’s, we’re in trouble. We’re better offensively, but they’re WAY better defensively. Sorry guys, I hope I’m wrong.

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I agree, I think it will take an exceptional 3 point shooting night to win this one. This SCU squad is certainly capable of that.
I’d expect Randy Bennett knows this too, and will try to throw a wrench into the works of that notion.

Would running a tight “grind a stone into a diamond” flex type offense be a good counter to an excellent M2M defense? A while back, we had to play this way because we were less athletic than we are now…layups, backdoor cuts, shots from the shoulder of the key. If they play M2M, then its death by 1000 paper cuts. I think it still works.

Yes, if Herb had the kids playing physical ball. SCU is probably the least physical team in the WCC (and that’s saying something). Seems like Herb doesn’t even allow his kids to touch their opponent.

In the 6 years with Herb there are exactly ZERO games where I have walked away thinking “Wow, SCU really bullied their opponent,” (perhaps in all fairness I could have said that against an NAIA or D3 team though, but those games don’t count in my mind).

Conversely, there have been a decent # of losses where I have thought just the opposite (for this year think Fresno, LA Tech, Boise St, Cal, UCI)

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I would love to see at least a little bit more of Jacob Holt in this game. His energy going for rebounds was nice to see last game. We have a lot of forwards, but I’d love to see a bit more of him in particular, especially if he is willing to be an aggressor down low. He’s not huge, but stronger seemingly than Vrankic or Braun.

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My primary concern continues to be our defense. Watched the postgame when we played Pacific on the WCC Network and heard former Pacific Coach Bob Thomason talking. He basically said … Santa Clara is as good as BYU, St.Mary’s, and USF offensively but they didn’t show me the defense that it takes to beat those teams. Maybe they have it in them but they did not show me that tonight.


Thomason’s terrible calling the game (even worse than Stege) but he’s right about that.

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We are SO MUCH BETTER defensively with Bediako in there. His impact on this game is quite noticeable.

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Love seeing Pipes attack off the dribble. He finishes through contact nicely.