Samhan I Am. St. Mary’s 101, Portland State 80. Had St. Mary’s not lost to Vanderbilt by two points during Thanksgiving weekend, we’d probably be listing the Gaels as a ranked team and the name of Omar Samhan might be getting a little more publicity at this point. With tonight’s 61% shooting evening leading to another blowout win, St. Mary’s is currently 8-1 with solid road wins at Utah State and Oregon, and even though fellow WCCers San Diego and Portland were getting the early-season hype, it might be SMC as the team most likely to challenge Gonzaga as tops in the league again this year. The big reason is that Gonzaga has nobody like Omar Samhan, the 6’11 senior who dropped 31/17 tonight and is averaging 21/12/2 blks on 61% shooting for the year — his efficiency rating of 24.2 puts him in the neighborhood of some other players you may have heard of… namely Evan Turner, Luke Harangody, Aubrey Coleman, Quincy Pondexter and Manny Harris. Freshman guard Matthew Dellavedova is another player to watch on this team, as he’s averaging 14/3/4 assts and has a healthy 2:1 A/TO ratio. Don’t be alarmed with what we’re about to say, but those are actually better numbers than what Patty Mills put up as a rookie at St. Mary’s in 2008. The Gaels are definitely a team to watch as we head into the WCC this year.
Floriani Live. Rutgers 80, Rider 70 (OT). Ryan Thompson did not disappoint the nine or so NBA scouts in attendance. The Rider senior scored a game high 26 points while pulling down 8 rebounds. Rutgers adjusted and did a good job defending Thompson in the stretch and OT. “They (Rutgers) face guarded and denied him,” said Rider coach Tommy Dempsey. “Anytime he had the ball they had trouble staying in front of him.” Thompson shot 9 of 19 but forced only two of them and stayed within the framework of the offense. Another significant note for Rutgers: Mike Rosario scored 18 but was 5-17 from the floor. James Beatty, a junior guard, stepped up leading Rutgers with 21 points. Beatty was 6 of 8 beyond the arc and played some nice defense on Thompson in the stretch. “We recruited Beatty as a point but we knew he had several games in junior college where he knocked down about five treys. Tonight he had the looks, buried them and needs to do that.” Especially when Big East play starts for Rutgers just after the New Year.