Zags open WCC vs St. Mary's

Gonzaga treks to the Bay Area to begin conference play against St. Mary's. Unlike last year, in a loss, the Bulldogs will try to play better defense while keeping the offense clicking. We take a look at the Gaels.

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Head Coach: Randy Bennett
Last Season: 25-9
Postseason: Lost in NCAA Tourney 1st Round
This Season: 7-5 with wins over UC-Santa Cruz, Southeastern Louisiana, Texas A&M-Corpus Christi, Mississippi Valley State, Kent State, Nevada and TCU, and losses to Colorado, Rutgers, Arizona, Air Force and St. Joseph's.

2005/06 Summary: The Gaels are a yo ung team this season after losing three key starters, including the tremendous backcourt combo of E.J. Rowland and Paul Marigney. That youth, and a lack of adequate point guard play, was largely responsible for SMC dropping 4 out of its first 5 games. Since then, the Gaels have won 5 of 6, including a very impressive win over a top 25 Nevada team. The main catalyst has been UNLV transfer John Winston, who has brought experience and consistency to the point guard position. What is also helping is Brett Collin's emergence into one of the WCC's better all around players. Of course the Gaels still have Daniel Kickert, an all league performer last year who continues to remain one of the most skilled and best perimeter shooting big men in the country, and who has been excellent versus Gonzaga in the past.

Key Players:

#32 PG John Winston (6-4, junior. 2005/06 = 27.9 MPG, 8.0 PPG, 2.4 RPG, 3.4 APG, 29% FG, 20% 3PT, 69% FT)

UNLV transfer who has brought stability to the al l important SMC point guard position. Willing to take big time shots. Has already won two games for his team with buzzer beater baskets. Physical guard who finishes well near the rim. Quick hands on defense. Didn't play in SMC's first three games. Has scored in double figures in 4 games. Dished out 7 assists against TCU.

#24 G Todd Golden (6-3, soph. 2005/06 = 29.6 MPG, 6.2 PPG, 3.7 RPG, 2.6 APG, 38% FG, 41% 3PT, 86% FT)

SMC's best perimeter shooter from the guard/wing slot. Lefty shooter. Has good ballhandling abilities and can run the offense when needed.

#23 F Brett Collins (6-5, junior. 2005/06 = 24.8 MPG, 11.5 PPG, 5.1 RPG, 47% FG, 32% 3PT, 69% FT)

Very physical player. Does a bit of everything, and is emerging into a versatile scorer. Strong body enables him to attack the rim. Has a nose for the ball. Has scored in double figures in SMC's last 3 games, including 31 points versus Nevada. Had 11 points and was 3 of 4 on three pointers in SMC's win against Gonzaga last season.

#14 F Daniel Kickert (6-10, senior. 2005/06 = 32.5 MPG, 17.3 PPG, 5.4 RPG, 49% FG, 43% 3PT, 85% FT)

One of the most skilled and best perimeter shooting big men in the nation. Can get scorching hot from 3 ball land, but is also highly effective in the post or taking opposing bigs off the dribble. Good passer for a big man. Very cerebral player. Has scored in double figures in all but 2 games, including a season high 29 points against Rutgers. Averaged 18.6 PPG in 3 games versus Gonzaga last year, including a 27 point performance with 7 three pointers in the WCC title game.

#5 C Reda Rhalimi (7-0, senior. 2005/06 = 12.8 MPG, 5.3 PPG, 3.2 RPG, 50% FG, 100% FT)

A very big man who had an outstanding offseason. Has a good right handed hook shot.

#20 F Diamon Simpson (6-7, freshman. 2005/06 = 17.8 MPG, 7.1 PPG, 5.8 RPG, 47% FG, 52% FT)

One of the better recruits to enter the SMC program in awhile. Chose SMC over several Pac 10 schools, as well as Oklahoma State and Wake Forest. Long armed, athletic wing who can score in a variety of ways. Excellent offensive rebounder. Lots of upside.

#4 F Ian O'Leary (6-7, freshman. 2005/06 = 17.6 MPG, 5.6 PPG, 3.3 RPG, 42% FG, 33% 3PT, 72% FT)

Hails from Woodland, CA. Didn't play his senior year in high school due to injury. Scored in double figures in every game his junior year in high school. Had 14 points against TCU.

#33 C Blake Sholberg (7-1, junior. 2005/06 = 13.1 MPG, 3.8 PPG, 2.3 RPG, 63% FG, 50% FT)

Tall big man with long arms. Hard to score over. Somewhat limited on offense. Rotates regularly with Rhalimi. Can run the floor surprisingly well.

#3 G Rafael DeSilva (6-4, soph. 2005/06 = 14.2 MPG, 3.2 PPG, 2.3 RPG, 39% FG, 31% 3PT, 63% FT)

Quick guard who likes to take opposing guards off the bounce.

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