The Saint Mary’s Gaels kick off their 2010-2011 NCAA men’s basketball season hosting College of Idaho. This game actually counts as an exhibition for Idaho, but is an official game for the Gaels. College of Idaho, an NAIA college, is currently 2-3 following a 55-54 loss to at home to Northwest Nazarene on Tuesday night. COI entered the season receiving 31 votes in the NAIA top-25 national poll. The Coyotes were picked to finish fourth in the Cascade Conference preseason coaches poll.
College of Idaho is averaging 62.2 points per game, while allowing the opposition 63.4 points per game, for a -0.8 scoring margin. The Coyotes are shooting 42.8 percent from the floor, 33.3 percent from three, and 84.8 percent from the free throw line. They are allowing opponents to shoot 41.9 percent from the floor, 32.4 percent from 3-point range, and 71.6 percent from the free throw line. They hold a +1.6 rebounding margin, grabbing 32.8 rebounds per game and giving up 31.2 rebounds per game.
College of Idaho has three players that are averaging double figures in scoring, with Kelly McCarty leading the way with 11.8 points per game. McCarty has done all this while coming off the bench thus far. Matt Ballenger is averaging 10.4 points per game and 4.0 rebounds per game, while leading the team with 11 steals. Krispin Banks is the team’s third leading scorer at 10.0 points per game, and leads the team with 6.6 rebounds per game. Miguel Rodriguez is the team’s top playmaker averaging 5.0 assists per game.
The Saint Mary’s Gaels are coming off a 2009-2010 season in which they tied a school record for wins with 28 and advanced to the Sweet Sixteen in the NCAA tournament. Their three NCAA tournament games were a school record. The Gaels lose big man Omar Samhan but look to make up for that loss with a pair of transfer students in Rob Jones of San Diego and Kenton Walker of Creighton.
While the Gaels bulldozed their way inside last season, they received some clutch outside shooting, which they’ll rely on even more heavily in 2010-2011. They return their second leading scorer from last year in the form of guard Mickey McConnell. The senior averaged 13.8 points per game last season while shooting 51% from beyond the three-point line. SMC will need big production from if they want to have a shot at repeating last year’s historic run.