The Saint Mary's Gaels open up their 2011-12 West Coast Conference schedule with an historic contest as they welcome the new kids on the block to town. The Brigham Young University Cougars make their WCC debut Thursday evening against the 2010-11 co-champions in what has the makings of a great early season match. The game will be broadcast on ESPN2 at 8:00pm PT, with Dave Flemming and Sean Farnham calling the action.
SMC and BYU have opened the season a combined 22-5. SMC, BYU and Gonzaga are considered the top tier of WCC basketball and each game between the three of them will be pivotal in the conference regular season race. The Gaels head into conference play with an 11-2 record and a ranking of 29 in the Pomeroy Ratings. The Cougars are 11-3 and ranked 20th in the Pomeroy Ratings.
The Gaels are led by senior forward Rob Jones who is averaging a double-double with 14.0 points and 10.6 rebounds per game. Matthew Dellavedova is right behind Jones, averaging 13.9 points per game. Dellavedova has been the team's set-up man, leading the team with 6.3 assists per game. Senior forward Clint Steindl is third on the team in scoring and is day-to-day with an ankle injury.
The Cougars are led by Noah Hartsock who is averaging 17.5 points per game and is third on the team with 6.0 rebounds. Freshman guard Matt Carlino is second on the team in scoring with 17.3 points per game. Carlino also leads the team with 4.8 assists per game. BYU is the WCC's top-scoring team, averaging 79.6 points per game. They also lead the league in field goal percentage (.488), 3-point percentage (.398), rebounding (38.9), blocked shots (5.1), assists (18.6) and turnover margin (+2.0). SMC and BYU lead the league in 15 of 21 statistical categories tracked by the WCC.