Game Time: 1pm, Live Stats and Radio
As St. Mary's comes to Mac Court, they are recovering from the news that senior guard Wayne Hunter will miss the remainder of the season after tearing the ACL in his left knee in the last few minutes of their win over Utah State last Saturday. The Gaels will miss his 12 points per game but more importantly, they will miss his defensive intensity and energy. You don't like to take pleasure in the misfortunes of others, but having Hunter in there would have caused major problems for our guards in ball control and scoring.
A Look at the Gaels
St. Mary's has a great inside/outside game with 6-11 Omar Samhan at center and 6-0 Mickey McConnell at guard. Samhan is a beast near the basket, averaging 20 points and 12 rebounds a game on nearly 60% shooting. A crafty senior, Samhan will look to exploit Oregon underneath early and often. He will pass the ball when needed and that's where McConnell will kill you, shooting 60% from beyond the arc.
Outside of their starters, St. Mary's doesn't have a lot of experience or depth but they do have a good 6th man in Tim Williams. Who steps up for Wayne Hunter will be interesting as the most likely candidates are all freshman in Trey Anderson, Matt Dellavedova, and Jorden Page. Out of those, Anderson and Page are the most likely but have limited experience.
Keys to the Game
1. Michael Dunigan, are you listening to me? Good. Don't get in foul trouble. We need you in there playing your best defense against Omar Samhan. He is prone to turning the ball over but he will get his points. Don't get silly handcheck fouls. Without you in there, he will dominate even more on the glass and kill us. If Dunigan can take him straight up, we can work to take away the Gael's 3 point game.
2. With the Gael defense being so good, Oregon will need to have a good day from the field to stay in it. If the team shoots like they did against Missouri, this one will get ugly fast
3. Rebounding and limiting offensive opportunities will be key for Oregon to get out on the break. With Samhan looking to crash the boards, good box outs and fundamental defense will turn into offensive opportunities if the Ducks can take advantage of them.
This would be a great game to have in the win column but my expectations are low coming off the blow out by Missouri and given how good the Gaels have been in recent years. I certainly like our chances more with Wayne Hunter out of the game. We need to come out and be competitive in this game for a lot of reasons, but mainly for the overall mental aspect of the team. Getting blown out for the second game in a row could prove as damaging as last year and we don't want a "here we go again" feeling.
I'm not expecting a win but this game would go far in getting us some momentum in finishing up the non-conference slate. A win here and I feel we have a great shot of ending non-conference at 8-4 or better.