WCC Tourney Game 2: vs. SMC

Tip-off: Monday, 6pm @ the Orleans Arena
Line: Torvik- Gaels -10.7, 86% win probability; ESPN- 90% win prob, no line yet.
Rankings: Broncos (104 - NET / 119 - Torvik) ; Gaels ( 17 / 16 )

St. Mary’s:
Gaels are 24-7 but couldn’t close out the undefeated league season and lost to GU in their most recent game.
Starting lineup:
6-4 point guard Augustus Marciulionis (12.4pts, 5.1 assists, 1.5 steals, 35% from 3).
6-3 guard Aidan Mahaney (13.7pts, 35% from 3)
6-7 wing Alex Ducas (9.8pts, 5.7rebs, 43% from 3)
6-9 forward Mason Forbes (4.6pts, 2.4rebs, 0.8 blocks)
6-10 center Mitchell Saxen (11.5pts, 7.3rebs, 1.4blocks)

A couple of key notes on SMC’s starting lineup and stats…as most are aware, Joshua Jefferson went down with a season ending injury about a week after we last played SMC. Mason Forbes has been starting in his absence and is averaging ~8pts a game during that time. Forbes is a different player than Jefferson; he’s more athletic and a better rim protector but doesn’t provide the 3pt shooting or perimeter play of Jefferson.
Also, 3pt shooting from SMC’s perimeter players has trended up since non-con play. Ducas was struggling early season but has been on fire in WCC play, shooting 49.5% from 3. And both Marciulionis and Mahaney’s 3pt shooting has trended up to ~39% during league play. And Marciulionis’s assist #'s were up to 6.5assists in WCC play.

It would be great to get either Saxen or one of their backcourt guys in foul trouble as SMC’s depth is limited with Jefferson out and very little backcourt production off their bench. And back center Wessels didn’t suit up a week ago vs. GU, not sure his current status.

Caffaro being out for the this game is cause for concern. We could really use him against Saxen as he’s much stronger and a better post defender than Tilly. Saxen’s strength is drawing fouls in the post and getting offensive rebounds; there is great risk of Tilly either getting in foul trouble or giving up points to Saxen. Tongue is giving up some inches but we’re going to need him to do his best vs. Saxen. We may also need to a few mins from McEldon just to throw a big body at Saxen and to spell Tilly or Tongue; I expected him to play a few mins late in the USD game but he never saw the floor, hopefully he’s available.

Another thing to keep on eye on is our backcourt defense and matchups…Benjamin is on the small side making it easier for Mahaney to shoot over the top and Bal simply isn’t a great on-ball defender and will have his hands full if he’s matched up on Marciulionis. We’ll need some good backcourt defense from Bryan when he’s on the floor, he’s probably the best option we have to defend to Marciulionis.

The Broncos have to play clean in this game to have a chance vs. the Gaels, keep the TO’s to 10 or less, win or at least match the Gaels on the boards and we’ll need to some 3ptrs to fall. Would be a great time for a good 3pt shooting night from Marshall/O’Neil/Bal.

Prediction: Broncos get a few Gaels in foul trouble, the shots are falling and Broncos eke out a 77-74 win.


Def going to be a physical game. My only concern is that across the board - St Marys is given more leeway and allowed to play harder than we are allowed.

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First Bronc, thanks again for all your pregame homework!
Randy Bennett is the master of matchups. Tonight will be no different. On offense, I think as you say they will play through Saxon to get to Tilly (fouls) and then at Cam for size difference.
Same for our guards. Benjamin will give up 4-5 inches to either SMC guards and they’ll use their effective screens to get those matchups. When we help low, out it will go to Ducas for open looks. They’ll press to force Benjamin and freshman Hammond to handle it.
I feel, they hope it will result in Bal taking the handle which with Marciulionis on him slow down his offense.
All this opens the door for O’Neil, Marshall, Bryan, and Ensminger to step up. They all tend to fall in love with the 3 ball, but can be more effective taking it to the rack.
Bottom line, SMC needs to have an off night shooting and we need to make our good looks. Shooting % from Bal and Marshall is down quite a bit in conference play but O’Neil and Bryans are up. SMC will let Ensminger take as many 3’s ad he wants - a 29% shooter.

Lastly, I hope we play loose. Nothing to lose but a ton to gain!



I looked for McEldon in the arena last night, but he was not on the bench. Femme, any news to share with us on his status?

Luke underwent hip surgery in order to be healed and ready to roll next season.

Bummer for Luke and the Broncos but glad whatever issue he has is being addressed.

So the Broncos are a little shorthanded in the post…so are the Gaels. No excuses.

And I’ll remind that LMU gave SMC trouble during league play with a smaller frontcourt that could make 3’s; it pulled Saxen away from the basket forcing him to be a perimeter defender (not his strength) and diminishing his rim protecting and rebounding contributions. Ultimately, Bennett had to counter, didn’t play Saxen as much and had to use a smaller lineup of his own with Forbes playing the 5 and Jefferson or Barret at the 4.
If/when the Broncos go small when Saxen is in the game, they need to mix up post coverages…alternative fronting, or 3/4 high side, don’t be predictable. Squeeze down passing lanes and don’t allow easy post entries. Try to not to play behind him much unless you’re able to push him out to mid-post so he’s catching at 10ft not 5ft; if you play behind him and let him establish low position on the block then you’re in trouble.


IIRC, Bryan had a good stretch a couple of occasions where he could get physical enough to cover the 5 when switching on a ball screen. Need to see that collective effort from everyone on the floor tonight.

Also, Tilly tends to pick up a couple of very soft fouls - usually when he’s going to contest and gets called for jumping into the shooter with his body even though trying to remain straight up. Hope he can stay out of the ref’s bad books early on and stay on the court.


Thanks for all the analysis board !

When is the last time SCU made the WCC tourney finals ??

@getnashty your signal is in the sky.

IMO if Tilly, Cam and Bal stay out of foul trouble we have a good shot at this. Cam will be a target for them because he plays tough like them and they have seen what he can do,.


Broncos last trip to the WCC finals was in 1993 with Steve Nash.

Here’s more info:

False, we lost in the finals to Gonzaga in ‘99, ‘01, and most recently in ‘07.


1993 was the last time we WON the WCC tourney, but we’ve been there since on three occasions, I believe.


Need to cheat on D to win this one… Got to leave Barrett or Ducas or both alone when they are more than 12 ft from the basket. The guy(s) that are doing so need to sag hard in the post to make entry passes and movement diffucult for Saxen. It also helps close the driving lane for Marciulionis and Mahaney.
If Barrett or Ducas beats you from beyond the arc then so be it. Simple stuff that Gonzaga did recently, but I doubt Herb with do anything other than his non-contact man… in which case it’s gonna take a lights out shooting night from SCU,

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My bad. 1993 we were WCC Champs, 1999 and 2001 lost to the Zags in the finals. 2007 was a semifinal loss to the zags Again.

In any case it’s been a LONG time…

Hope tonight we get there again today night!

Wessels active for SMC

An inauspicious start, to say the least…6-0 on two wide open 3-pt shots by Ducas

QUICK timeout by Herb, yikes

I have so much more faith in Marshall and Bal than I do Benjamin doing the fadeaway midranger


Not guarding Ducas isn’t an option…as noted in my preview he shot 49.5% from 3.

If you want to double Saxen in the post it will have to be off of someone else, Forbes or Barrett. Or even off of Marciulionis…his 3pt shooting has improved some but he doesn’t take all that many 3’s he prefers to drive and create.

Marshall stepping up so far, and Cam is battling well.