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Matt Norlander

Welcome to The Dance, Saint Mary's Gaels

The Dagger

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Well, it had to happen sometime, right? After reaching the semifinals of the West Coast Conference tournament every year since Randy Bennett became the coach in 2001, the Gaels finally got a finals win under the now-hot coaching prospect, their first WCC conference crown since 1997. The Gaels had a strong 2009, yet were left out of the NCAAs in what many considered to be one of the biggest gyp jobs in Selection Committee history. SMC could've been dealt an identical fate this year, but we'll never know because Omar Samhan, Ben Allen and Co. needed a third time to beat Gonzaga when it counted most.

Player to know: It's Samhan. Many think he, and not Gonzaga's Matt Bouldin, should have won the WCC Player of the Year award. He's a monster to handle down low and should give SMC a chance against every opponent it plays. There aren't five guys who can handle Samhan when he's playing to his potential, which hasn't happened consistently enough for SMC fans this season.

The Vitals:

»Record: 26-5, 11-3 West Coast
»Team colors: navy and red
»We're thinking: a 10-seed
»KenPom ranking: 51
»RPI: 43
»Best win: @ Utah State (25-6)
»Worst loss: @ Long Beach State (15-15)
»Notable stat: Saint Mary's hits 3-pointers at a 41-percent clip. You know what they say about the 3 ball: It's the great equalizer.
»Most recent tournament history (six total appearances):
-2008 (10-seed): L first round to Miami (FL), 78-64.
-2005 (10-seed): L first round to Southern Illinois, 65-56.

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