Back with a notebook from media day at Gonzaga and a Monday morning telephone interview with Saint Mary’s coach Randy Bennett. The unedited version is below.
By Jim Meehan
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Since Gonzaga defeated Saint Mary’s in
They’ve won six straight WCC games, the last five by 12-18 points. They’ve scored between 71 and 88 points. They’ve allowed between 56 and 72 points.
“They’ve been remarkably consistent,” Gonzaga coach Mark Few said of the Gaels, who visit the
Saint Mary’s coach Randy Bennett has an explanation for that steadiness.
“These guys are pretty consistent workers, that’s the best way I can put it, and they have been from Day 1,” Bennett said. “Early in the year we were impressed with their work ethic and their dependability. … We play pretty much the same every night. Some nights we make more shots than others.”
Bennett has developed a consistent winner in his nine-year run at SMC. The Gaels (21-3) have surpassed 20 wins each of the last three seasons and they haven’t finished below third in the WCC in the last six years.
“It took us 3-4 years to get to the (NCAA) Tournament and win 25 games, then we dipped a little bit and lost a lot of seniors,” he said. “We’re in good shape for the future. I don’t think we’re a team that’s going to spike every four years.”
What Bennett hasn’t been able to do is beat Gonzaga in
“I’d be crazy to say the environment isn’t a factor,” he said, “but it’s more the team we’re facing. The environment is tough, but if they didn’t have a good team it wouldn’t be as tough an environment.”
GU center Rob Sacre celebrated two wins this weekend. Gonzaga knocked off
“I never thought I’d see the day the Saints would win the Super Bowl, but miracles do happen,” Sacre said. Sacre is quite familiar with
“The first five minutes I thought Peyton Manning was going to tear us apart,” Sacre said. “But the Saints persevered, kind of reminded me of the Zags a little bit.”
Gonzaga got quality minutes out of its bench in last week’s wins over
Manny Arop had four rebounds against the Tigers and eight points and seven boards against the Pilots.
“Will came in and that’s kind of what he needs to do,” Few said. “He’s got another weekend with his career winding down where it looks like he could probably help us.”
Gonzaga is one win from its 13th consecutive 20-win season, which started with Dan Monson’s 24-10 campaign in 1997-98. Their lowest win total during that span was 23. “It’s a big deal,” Few said. “College basketball is hard. We’ve become accustomed to it up here. The moment you start expecting things, I think reality kind of slaps you in the face. I mean you look at what (North) Carolina is going through and what Florida has gone through the last couple years and what Connecticut is going through right now.” … Gonzaga’s Elias Harris and Saint Mary’s Omar Samhan are the WCC’s co-players of the month for January. Harris averaged 20.9 points and 11 rebounds. He had 31 points and 13 rebounds against Saint Mary’s. Samhan averaged 23.1 points and 11.4 rebounds. He had 31 points and 12 boards against Gonzaga. … The Bulldogs moved up to No. 16 in the A.P. poll and No. 11 in the ESPN/USA Today rankings. They were 17th and 13th, respectively, a week ago.