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Nov. 28, 2007

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THIS WEEK IN GAEL BASKETBALL
This week the Saint Mary's men's basketball team will play one game against the Seton Hall Pirates on Saturday, December 1 beginning at 4 p.m. at McKeon Pavilion. Saint Mary's is off to a 5-0 start following wins over No. 11 Oregon and Nicholls State last week.

After opening the year with wins over Sonoma State (82-57) and Drake (72-66) in the Saint Mary's Tip-off Classic, and a victory over CS Bakersfield (94-66) on Nov. 13, Saint Mary's improved to 5-0 following a 99-87 win over Oregon and an 84-63 triumph over Nicholls State last week. The 5-0 start is the best for SMC since the 1993-94 season when SMC opened the year with five straight wins.

Seton Hall will be making its first appearance in Moraga on Saturday, and will look to improve to 6-0 on the season when it plays against Princeton on Wednesday evening. The trip to SMC on Saturday is a return game, as the Gaels traveled to New Jersey last season to play the Pirates. Seton Hall opened the year with overtime wins over Monmouth and Robert Morris, then defeated Loyola (MD), and last week in the Independence Bracket, SHU defeated Navy (79-75) and No. 23 Virginia (74-60) to improve to 5-0 for the first time since the 2001-02 campaign.

RADIO AND TELEVISION
The game between SMC and Seton Hall will be televised by Comcast SportNet West with Greg Papa and John Lambert calling the action. The game will also be broadcast live on KDIA 1640 AM with Mike Bouve calling the action courtside. Fans can also listen to the live broadcast from Bouve for FREE on the internet at www.SMCGaels.com. The game will not be available through the Gaels All Access package due to the television broadcast.

MILLS NAMED WCC PLAYER OF THE WEEK
Saint Mary's true freshman point guard Patrick Mills was named the West Coast Conference Player of the Week as announced on Monday, November 26, 2007. Mills helped the Gaels post a 2-0 record last week, which included home wins over No. 11-ranked Oregon (99-87) and Nicholls State (84-63). For the week, Mills scored 48 points, dished out 10 assists and had just four turnovers to help the Gaels improve to 5-0 on the season. He averaged 24.0 points and 5.0 assists, while shooting 13-26 (.500) from the floor and 18-19 from the free throw line.

GAELS AT A GLANCE
SMC is off to a 5-0 start for the first time since the 1993-94 campaign when the Gaels posted a 5-0 start...the last time SMC posted a 6-0 start was in 1988-89 when the team posted a 9-0 record to open the year...the Gaels have hit double digits in 3-pointers in three of five games and are averaging 9.3 made threes per outing...SMC made 10 threes in just one game last season...the Gaels are shooting 50.2 percent (147-293) from the field and 37.0 percent (47-127) from 3-point land...SMC is holding opponents to 29.2 percent (26-89) from beyond the 3-point arc...Carlin Hughes hit a team-high five threes against Drake...Todd Golden has made 10-of-20 3-pointers this season to shot 50 percent from behind the arc...SMC is averaging 8.2 steals and 6.8 blocks per game...the Gaels have won seven straight games at home, including the last two games of the 2006-07 season...SMC is shooting 60.2 percent (100-166) from inside the arc...after five games, four players are averaging 10 or more points per game...Diamon Simpson leads the team with 8.8 rebounds per game.

SCOUTING THE SETON HALL PIRATES
Seton Hall is off to a 5-0 start this season and will play at Princeton on Wednesday night before making the trip to California. The Pirates entered this week coming off a 74-60 win over the No. 23-ranked Virginia Cavaliers on Nov. 24 in a game played at the Polestra in Philadelphia, PA.

This season, Seton Hall is averaging 89.4 points per game and have a +8.8 scoring margin after allowing its opponents to score 80.6 points per game. The Pirates are shooting 42.3 percent from the floor, 31.2 percent from 3-point land, and 69.2 percent from the free throw line. SHU opponents are shooting 45.0 percent from the floor, 33.8 percent from three, and 68.4 percent from the foul line.

Four players are averaging in double figures for second-year head coach Bobby Gonzalez. Leading the way is senior Brian Laine, who is averaging 22.0 points and 9.0 rebounds per game. Junior guard Eugene Harvey adds 19.4 points per game and is the team's leader with 19 assists on the year. Jamar Nutter, the team's leading scorer last season, is averaging 11.2 points per game and Jeremy Hazell comes off the bench to chip in 10.8 points per outing. John Garcia, who also comes off the bench, is averaging just 18.6 minutes per game, but leads the team with 9.8 rebounds per game. He has 49 total boards, with more than half (25) coming on the offensive end of the floor.

THE LAST MEETING
When SMC and Seton Hall played at the Continental Airlines Arena last season, Seton Hall earned a 93-82 win in overtime. With the Geals leading 73-67 with 3:47 left in regulation, SMC needed a free throw by Tron Smith with one-minute remaining to send the game into overtime. SMC has the final shot of regulation, but Wayne Hunter's 3-pointer as time expired was off the mark. The Gaels were paced by Brett Collins' 28 points, and Ian O'Leary and Diamon Simpson had 19 and 16 points respectively. Jamar Nutter led SHU with 24 points and Eugene Harvey and Stan Gaines had 18 and 14 points respectively.

SMC VERSUS SETON HALL: THE SERIES
Saturday's game between SMC and Seton Hall will mark the fifth meeting between the two schools. Seton Hall as won the last two games of the series after SMC won the first two games of the series. The game between SMC and Seton Hall last season marked the first game played between the two teams since the 1983-84 season.

SERIES BREAKDOWN
Seton Hall Leads; 2-2
Last Game: SHU 93 - SMC 82 (ot)
In Moraga: 0-0
In New Jersey: 1-1
On Neutral Court: 1-1

BENNETT CLOSING IN ON WINS RECORD
With a 5-0 record this season, seventh-year head coach Randy Bennett now has 107 career victories and needs four more wins to pass James Weaver for the most wins all-time at SMC. Weaver, who coached seven years, holds the school record with 110 wins. Weaver had a 110-67 record. Bennett earned his 100th coaching victory with a 97-72 win over Pepperdine on Feb. 24, 2007, becoming just the second coach in school history to reach 100 coaching victories.

GAELS JUMP TO FIFTH IN MID MAJOR POLL
Following a 5-0 start to the season, that included a win over No. 11-ranked Oregon, the Gaels moved up four spots to No. 5 in this weeks ranking in the CollegeInsider Mid Major poll. The Gaels received 634 points this week, up 141 points from last week's 493 points. The Gaels opened the year with 324 points and ranked 11th in the preseason CollegeInsider.com Mid Major Top-25 poll. The Gaels were not ranked in the poll at the conclusion of the 2006-07 season. The ranking is the first for the Gaels since the end of the 2004-05 season. The only other WCC squad to be named in the poll is Gonzaga, which is number one with 767 points and 24 first place votes.

SAINT MARY'S AGAINST THE BIG EAST
Against teams from the Big East Conference, Saint Mary's holds a career record of 4-19. SMC is 2-2 against Seton Hall and 1-0 against South Florida. The Gaels have played DePaul the most, dropping all six meetings between the two schools. SMC is 1-1 versus Villanova, 0-1 versus, Connecticut, St. John's and Providence, 0-2 against Notre Dame and Rutgers, and 0-3 against Marquette. SMC had never played Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, West Virginia, Georgetown, and Louisville. In his seven seasons at SMC, Randy Bennett has not recorded a win over a Big East team and has a 0-4 record against the conference.

SAMHAN 24TH IN THE NATION IN BLOCKS
In five games, Omar Samhan has a team-high 14 blocks and is averaging 2.8 blocked shots per game. His 2.8 blocks per game is tied for 24th in the country, while his 14 total blocks is currently tied for 29th most in the nation.

GAELS AMONG NATION'S BEST IN BLOCKS
For the second straight year, Saint Mary's is ranked in the top-20 in blocks per game. This season, SMC's 6.8 blocks per game ranks 13th overall in the country. The Gaels have blocked a total of 34 shots this season, which are the 23rd most in Division I basketball. Last season, SMC blocked a school record 174 shots, which ranked 16th in the country. The Gaels averaged a conference-best 5.5 blocks per game to rank 19th in the nation for blocks per game.

FRESHMAN MILLS 18TH IN THE NATION IN STEALS
Freshman point guard Patrick Mills is making a big impact early in his career. Mills has 15 steals this season and is averaging a team-high 3.0 steals per game. He currently ranks 18th overall with 3.0 steals per game and his 15 total steals ranks 35th in the nation. The school record for steals in a season is 72 by Erick Newman in 1988-89.

GAELS HITTING FROM DOWNTOWN
In five games, the Gaels have made a total of 47 3-pointers and average 9.4 made three per game. Saint Mary's has hit double digits in three-pointers three times this season, including 10 against Sonoma St. and 12 against Drake to open the year, and 10 against Nicholls St. Last season, SMC made 10 or more threes in just one game. To find the last time SMC hit 10 threes in back-to-back games you have to go back to the 2003-04 season when the Gaels hit 10 treys against San Diego, then dropped 12 on rival Santa Clara in the next game.

SIMPSON HEADLINES SMC BLOCK PARTY
In his freshman season Diamon Simpson had 45 blocked shots to lead the Gaels. His 45 blocks in 2005-06 ranks fourth in SMC's single season blocks list. With a team-leading 79 blocks (number two all-time) as a sophomore he entered this season with 123 career blocks. He has nine blocks this season and now has 133 career blocked shots. He will need 21 more blocks to pass Brad Millard's school record of 153 career blocked shots.

SAMHAN MOVES UP TO EIGHTH IN CAREER BLOCKS
Sophomore Omar Samhan began his Saint Mary's career with a freshman record 47 blocks in 2006-07. This season he has a team-high 14 blocks, bring his career total to 61, passing Norm Kelly and Frederic Adjiwanou for eighth all-time. He will need 15 blocks to pass Daniel Kickert for seventh place.

HOME SWEET HOME
In seven years as the head coach of the Gaels, Randy Bennett has led the Gaels to a 66-28 (.702) record in McKeon Pavilion. Saint Mary's posted a school record 15-1 record in McKeon Pavilion in 2004-05, had an 11-5 record at home in 2005-06, and followed that with a 12-5 record last season. The Gaels are off to a 5-0 start at home this season and over the last four seasons, SMC is 43-11 (.796) at home.

AT HOME AGAINST NON-WCC OPPONENTS
As good as the Gaels have played at home over the last five seasons, SMC has played even better against non-conference opponents in McKeon Pavilion. In the past five seasons, SMC has a 39-8 (.829) record at home against teams outside the WCC. In the last four seasons at home against non-conference opponents, SMC is 33-5 (.868) overall in McKeon Pavilion. Saint Mary's is 12-1 in its last 13 home games against non-conference opponents, winning its last seven.

NEXT WEEK
Next week, Saint Mary's will play just one game. The Gaels will play their first game away from McKeon Pavilion when they travel Southern California for the John Wooden Classic. Saint Mary's will play the San Diego State Aztecs on Saturday, December 8 beginning at 12 p.m. at the Honda Center in Anaheim, CA.