San Francisco Chronicle: Saint Mary’s Men Look for Encore After Strong 2021–22 Season

In the past 14 postseasons, the Gaels have played in seven NCAA Tournaments and seven NITs. They host Oral Roberts for a home opener on November 7 at 7 p.m.

Saint Mary's Men's Basketball - SF ChronicleSan Francisco Chronicle writer Steve Kroner opens his November 3 preview of the Saint Mary’s men’s basketball season with a question: “When a program has accomplished what Randy Bennett’s has at St. Mary’s over the past 15 seasons, one often-asked question to his players can be perceived as both complimentary and daunting: What will you do for an encore?”

“It’s going to be hard as heck to do what we did last year, (but) they’re going to give it a go,” he quotes Bennett as saying.

Among the good stuff in this story:

Last season, the Gaels went 26-8, finished second in the WCC with a 12-3 record, knocked off No. 1 Gonzaga in late February, earned a five-seed—the highest in school history—in the NCAA Tournament and blitzed Indiana in a first-round game before losing to UCLA in the second round.

 

Kroner notes that guard Logan Johnson provides much “toughness, grit and leadership.” More:

Last season, his third with the Gaels, Johnson averaged 11.9 points per game and had a team-leading 67 steals. He and forward Kyle Bowen—who coined the “Gritty Not Pretty” slogan—anchor a defense that finished ninth in the country in points allowed per game at 60.6.

Joining Johnson and Bowen in the starting lineup will be center Mitchell Saxen, small forward Alex Ducas and either sophomore Augustas Marciulionis or freshman Aidan Mahaney will replace Kuhse at the point.

Johnson and Alex Ducas, forward, “were named to the 10-man preseason All-WCC team. A 6-foot-7 senior from Australia, Ducas has a pure shooting stroke. He hit a team-leading 67 3-pointers and shot 38.7% from beyond the arc.”

 

Kroner notes a few more statistics to which the Coach Bennett and the Gaels have bragging rights:

In the past 14 postseasons, St. Mary’s has played in seven NCAA Tournaments and seven NITs. In each of the past 14 full seasons, the Gaels have racked up at least 21 wins.

Another 20-win season would boost Bennett’s career total to 500. He’s 480-200 over 21 seasons in Moraga. He and his players clearly have known what to do for an encore.

 

Read the full story in the Chronicle here.

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Date of Mention: 
Thursday, November 3, 2022