|The Gaels are good -- but how good? Gonzaga on Thursday night should help us find out. (US PRESSWIRE)|
By Jeff Goodman
It's finally time to see if Saint Mary's is for real.
Randy Bennett has played a soft non-conference slate for the most part. There was the tournament in November in Las Vegas where Saint Mary's split against Baylor and Missouri State, but it's been difficult to tell whether the Gaels are a legitimate NCAA tournament squad thus far.
Tomorrow night Bennett welcomes Gonzaga to Moraga for its anticipated matchup with the Bulldogs.
We know the 'Zags are a legit Top 25 team. Mark Few's team always plays a brutal non-conference slate and this season was no different. Sure, they lost at home to Michigan State and on the road against Illinois -- but Gonzaga has beaten a bunch of decent teams: Arizona, Notre Dame, Butler and Oral Roberts.
Few has plugged the most noticeable hole from a year ago -- at the point guard spot -- with freshman Kevin Pangos. The 'Zags have Elias Harris and Robert Sacre up front and freshman Gary Bell has started to emerge on the wing. There's also depth with guys like Marquise Carter and David Stockton in the backcourt, Guy Landy on the wing and Sam Dower up front.
No one quite knows what to make out of the Gaels.
They have a 1-2 punch in Aussie guard Matthew Dellavedova and Rob Jones.
But with a lackluster resume, Saint Mary's will likely need to finish in the top two in the WCC to have a shot to get to the NCAA tournament.
Bennett's team beat BYU already in Moraga, but that doesn't mean all that much. Last I checked, Jimmer wasn't in Provo any longer -- and the Cougars and the Missouri State team that the Gaels beat in Vegas could both be NIT teams come March.
One loss came against defeated Baylor, the other at Denver.
I'm a huge Dellavedova guy -- and Jones has been performing like a first-team all-league guy.
But that's really all we know about Saint Mary's. Until Thursday night when the 'Zags come to town.