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Saint Mary’s Game Preview/Open Thread

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NCAA Basketball: Pepperdine at St. Mary's Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports

The Essentials

Date: Monday, 3/19/18

Tip-Off Time: 8:00pm PST

TV: ESPNU

Radio: KOMO 1000

Streaming: Espn.com/watch

Location: Moraga, California

Betting Line: Saint Mary’s -11

Saint Mary’s 2017-18 Statistics:

Record: 29-5 (16-2)

Points For per Game: 77.3 ppg (70th)

Points Against per Game: 63.9 ppg (9th)

Adjusted Offensive Efficiency: 120.2 (9th)

Adjusted Defensive Efficiency: 102.1 (111th)

Strength of Schedule: 181st

Saint Mary’s Key Players:

C- Jock Landale, Sr. 6’11, 255: 21.5 ppg, 10.2 rpg, 1.1 bpg, 64.3% FG, 76.2% FT

After scraping past Chandler Hutchison, the Huskies continue their world tour against the best players at the mid major level with Jock Landale. Although he didn’t get any national consideration, Landale finished 2nd in KenPom’s player of the year formula and led the country in game MVPs with 20 in their 34 contests. You can think of Landale as a more athletic, 3 inches taller Noah Dickerson.

Landale can score every way possible from around the basket and he’s almost automatic if he gets within 8 feet of the hoop. He shot 72.3% this year on non-post up shots at the basket as well as 56.8% on post ups. Job number one is keeping the ball out of his hands.

F- Tanner Krebs, So. 6’6, 200: 7.6 ppg, 5.1 rpg, 1.0 apg, 41.7% FG, 38.5% 3pt, 81.6% FT

Krebs is the beginning of a quartet of Saint Mary’s players surrounding Landale who are plus shooters. About 70% of his attempts come from 3-point range so he’s not much more than a catch and shoot guy. He is however the next most effective rebounder after Landale for the Gaels.

F- Calvin Hermanson, Sr. 6’6, 200: 11.2 ppg, 3.3 rpg, 1.1 apg, 49.2% FG, 44.4% 3pt, 79.7% FT

Entry #2 in the Saint Mary’s catch and shoot club. Hermanson is a little more versatile than Krebs as only about 60% of his shots come from deep. He is the best shooter on the team but he has struggled against top competition. In Saint Mary’s 8 most difficult games to this point his 3-point percentage was down 16% from his season average.

G- Jordan Ford, So. 6’1, 160: 10.6 ppg, 2.7 rpg, 1.6 apg, 51.1% FG, 44.2% 3pt, 76.4% FT

Ford is a good 3-point shooter but still drives on the majority of his shot attempts. However, he doesn’t draw many fouls but has a nice midrange game in isolation. He’s the poor man’s version of Jaylen Nowell for Saint Mary’s.

G- Emmett Naar, Sr. 6’1, 195: 9.9 ppg, 2.4 rpg, 7.9 apg, 48.8% FG, 40.7% 3pt, 86.7% FT

The senior point guard finished second behind Trae Young in assists per game but like Young can also be prone to turnovers at times. The Saint Mary’s offense seeks to drive and kick to outstanding shooters or get Landale the ball in an advantageous situation. Naar makes the Gaels tick by distributing the ball to their array of talented offensive players.

The Outlook

Saint Mary’s may be in the NIT but they’re almost certainly good enough to be in the NCAA tournament. They were the best team per KenPom to be left out of the NCAA’s at #28. The Gaels had an embarrassingly easy schedule and were made an example of by the committee. Saint Mary’s went 24-2 in quadrant 3 and 4 games and just 4-3 in quadrant 1 and 2 games. But they kicked the crap out of folks in those 24 wins over inferior teams. A win at Gonzaga and New Mexico State at home wasn’t enough to overcome losses to San Francisco and Washington State.

The Gaels offense is a juggernaut even though their points per game number isn’t impressive. They play at the 341st ranked pace in the country which artificially lowers the score of their games. They work it on every possession and manage to find an a good shot on nearly every possession. That’s easier when you have probably the best low post scorer in the country.

This is a traditional 4 surround 1 offense. Landale commands a double team on every play and he plays alongside seven players shooting between 36.1% and 44.4% from beyond the arc. If the Huskies can deny the ball from getting inside to Landale with their zone it will negate the major reason Saint Mary’s has success. The Gaels offense averaged 1.075 points per possession against man defense and 1.026 points per possession against zone. That’s still a very good offense but it seems like if you’re going to slow Saint Mary’s down then zone is the way to go.

Saint Mary’s didn’t play a single possession of zone this season so the Huskies will see man to man the entire way. While Landale is a phenomenally skilled big man, he isn’t much of a defender. The Gaels were in the 28th percentile nationally defending post-ups this year and in just the 2nd percentile defending cuts to the basket. It isn’t UW’s specialty but if they can manufacture some action for a wing headed towards the basket it’s likely to find success. The lack of interior defense is clear as their opponents get nearly 60% of their points on 2-pointers which is 3rd most. The Huskies will be encouraged to drive inside and should probably do so often given their frequent road shooting woes.

It’s so hard to figure out how teams will react to the zone. If Saint Mary’s puts up the kind of offensive numbers they have all year then the Huskies have no chance. UW needs to both keep the Gael offense in check and play better road offense then they have in over a month. Apparently I keep needing this team to prove it to me and I hope they do so.

Prediction

Washington Huskies- 63, Saint Mary’s Gaels- 72

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