Following a 25-win season that saw Saint Mary’s advance to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 1997, Saint Mary’s looks to build on recent success in 2005-06.

To help ensure continuity, Saint Mary’s inked head coach Randy Bennett to a new six-year contract that will keep him at SMC through 2009-10. “Randy has done an outstanding job leading our men’s basketball program over the past four years, and he is very deserving of this new contract. I look forward to continued success of the men’s basketball program under Randy’s leadership,” Athletic Director Carl Clapp commented after the signing.

Saint Mary’s returns CollegeInsider.com’s 2004 WCC Player of the Year Daniel Kickert. A preseason all-American candidate, Kickert averaged 16.6 points and 6.6 rebounds as a junior. Brett Collins, a 6’5” junior swingman who averaged 6.4 points as a sophomore, will share the scoring load.

Seniors Erik Bond and Reda Rhalimi, junior Blake Sholberg, and sophomores Todd Golden and Rafael DaSilva will have expanded roles this season. The duo of Rhalimi and Sholberg, both 7’0”, give the Gaels impressive size in the low post. DaSilva gives the Gaels a good defender and long-range shooter.

Saint Mary’s welcomed four newcomers this fall, including junior John Winston and freshmen Wayne Hunter, Ian O’Leary, and Diamon Simpson. Winston is a transfer from UNLV, where he played in all 33 contests his freshman season., Hunter averaged 13 points, 4 rebounds and 4 assists at Bridgeton Prep in 2004-05. O’Leary contributed 20 points and 12 rebounds a game as a senior at Woodland Christian HS. Simpson is an outstanding defender and rebounder. As a junior, he helped Hayward High School post a second-place finish in the California State Championships.

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