O26 Weekly Awards: SMC, D.J. Balentine, Kyle Smith, Incarnate Word…

Posted by Tommy Lemoine on December 16th, 2014

Throughout the season, the Other 26 microsite will run down our weekly superlatives, including team, player, coach and whatever else strikes our fancy in that week’s edition.

O26 Team of the Week

Saint Mary’s. It’s a full month into the season and we still didn’t know much about the Gaels before last weekend. They were transfer-laden, proficient on offense and led by Brad Waldow (21.1 PPG, 10.1 RPG) down low – that much we understood – but Randy Bennett’s club had yet to play a road contest (or even leave Moraga) through its first six games. And aside from a pair of solid wins over New Mexico State and UC Irvine, Saint Mary’s most noteworthy performance prior to Saturday was a 83-71 loss to Boise State on December 6. Was this team good? Mediocre? An at-large contender? Even if the Gaels’ 71-67 victory at Creighton over the weekend doesn’t fully answer all of those questions, it does make one thing clear: These guys are going to be competitive in the WCC.

Saint Mary's pulled off a huge road victory in Omaha. (MATT MILLER/THE WORLD-HERALD)

Saint Mary’s pulled off a huge road victory in Omaha. (MATT MILLER/THE WORLD-HERALD)

Creighton entered Saturday on a 24-game home winning streak, an impressive run that coach Greg McDermott probably would have assumed safe if you had told him Waldow would end up with just 11 points on 2-of-10 shooting. “Obviously, our game plan was to slow down Waldow, because he’s such a big part of their offense,” McDermott said afterwards. Unfortunately for the Bluejays, the Saint Mary’s backcourt more than picked up the slack, as Stanford-transplant Aaron Bright scored 22 points and Kerry Carter dropped in 19. Equally as important was sophomore forward Dane Pineau, who – having never reached double figures in his career – stepped up enormously in wake of Waldow’s off night, scoring 13 points on 5-of-5 shooting and ripping down 10 boards. The Gaels withstood an early-second half Creighton surge by responding with a 12-0 run of their own, ultimately forcing an extra period – where Bright and Pineau sealed the deal. Now at 6-1 and with a marquee road victory under its belt, Saint Mary’s looks capable of challenging BYU for second-best in the WCC and putting itself in the NCAA Tournament discussion. This weekend’s victory at the CenturyLink Center could go a long way.

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Southland Race Gets More Interesting With Mandated Forfeitures

Posted by Adam Stillman on January 9th, 2014

Man, what a crazy season it’s been for the Southland Conference. It’s only January, but the league has already found itself in the news a couple of times, and that’s without any shocking upsets. It started in early December when Oral Roberts announced it would return to its original stomping grounds — the Summit League — for the 2014-15 season. Then it was announced on Wednesday that Stephen F. Austin and Oral Roberts would be forfeiting games based on a misunderstanding of NCAA scheduling rules.

Stephen F. Austin (pictured) and Oral Roberts will be forfeiting Southland Conference games. (Photo courtesy of zimbio.com)

Stephen F. Austin (SFA, pictured) and Oral Roberts will be forfeiting Southland Conference games. (Photo courtesy of zimbio.com)

That about explains it all right there. Basically NCAA Division I programs aren’t allowed to play more than four games against non-Division I programs in any given year, regardless of whether they’re exhibition or regular season contests. To date, Stephen F. Austin has played two regular season games and one exhibition contest against non-D-I opponents, while Oral Roberts has faced a four non-D-I teams in the exhibition and regular seasons. That’s not more than four, you might say, so what’s the beef? Alas, a pair of Southland Conference teams will count against that tally. With Abilene Christian and Incarnate Word transitioning from Division II to Division I this season, those two programs still technically count as non-Division I programs. After playing Abilene Christian on January 30 (its fourth) Stephen F. Austin will forfeit a home game to Incarnate Word on February 1 (its fifth), while Oral Roberts will forfeit a January 16 game at Abilene Christian (its fifth) and a January 18 contest at Incarnate Word (its sixth).

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