Gaels take care of business against Pepperdine

If Omar Samhan has realized anything this season, it’s that he can’t be stopped.

The Saint Mary’s center continued his dominance Thursday night as he recorded a double-double, scoring 20 points and adding 10 rebounds while also becoming the Gaels’ all-time leader in blocks with 240, surpassing Diamon Simpson who has 239, in a resounding 76-49 win over Pepperdine at McKeon Pavilion.

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Gaels’ Basketball looks to use final home games as a starting point

The Saint Mary’s men’s basketball team just missed out on the NCAA tournament last year. In order to prevent that from happening once again, they have to do all they can to prove that they are good enough to be included.

The final stretch begins with the last two games of the WCC regular season, home games pitted against two of the conference’s second-tier teams, Pepperdine and Loyola Marymount, Thursday and Saturday nights, respectively, at McKeon Pavilion in Moraga. Don’t tell that to LMU though; while the Waves are struggling with a 3-9 conference record, the Lions are 6-6 and are coming off unbelievable wins over WCC powerhouses Gonzaga and Portland.

If the Gaels, who currently sit in second place in the conference with at 9-3,  can win, as they are expected, against Pepperdine and LMU, and Gonzaga, who is reeling from stunning recent losses to USF and LMU, can somehow falter to either Santa Clara or USF, the Gaels could find themselves in first place going into the WCC Tournament in Las Vegas. Still, the only way Saint Mary’s can guarantee a spot in the Big Dance is winning that tournament, something that is no doubt on all of the Gaels minds.

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Guest: Mark Ibanez of KTVU 2

Having Mark Ibanez speak to our class was a refreshing look at the life of a sportscaster who works for a local news station. I feel like as consumers we get so caught up on what is shown on SportsCenter or on websites or blogs that we often forget about what once used to be one of the most prestigious positions a person that cares about sports can have: the role of covering sports for a local newscast. While the role is diminishing, it certainly is not dead, and Ibanez proved that. He takes great pride in what he does for a living and it seems like he has a great time doing it. Also, I don’t think anyone can beat the day he has: wake up, read the morning paper and have the entire AM to yourself? It doesn’t get any better than that. While he does have to work late hours, going into work at 4 PM sounds pretty ideal to me. Even though his airtime has decreased over the years, he’s lucky to still be doing what he loves and still be on the air. Local sports will never die, so I honestly don’t see how local newscasts will.

Olympic Hockey: USA! USA! USA!

It might not have been the Miracle on Ice, but don’t let that take anything away from the USA’s amazing victory over Canada Sunday in the men’s hockey tournament in the Olympics.

After being pelted continously for three periods, US goalie Ryan Miller had the game of his life by saving 42 shots en route to a stunning 5-3 victory over the favored Canadians at their own house. Miller was in top form; in the last few minutes when the US was up 4-3 and it seemed inevitable that the hosts would tie it up, he remained a brick wall in net for the Yanks and stonewalled every chance the Canadians threw at him. In what were surely a nerve-racking last moments for any American watching the game and just a few minutes after Sidney Crosby pulled Canada within one goal, Ryan Kesler slid, sprawling out on the ice and improbably curling his stick around a Canadian defenseman and subsequently finding the back of an empty net. It was a true moment of pride for Team America, as they were able to defeat a team of All-Stars and pull themselves ahead of the pack and emerge as a favorite to capture that elusive gold medal in men’s hockey.

Here’s to a great rest of the tournament to the boys in the red, white, and blue. Special congrats goes to Ryan Miller, who was able to have a career game while also sporting a sick helmet featuring Uncle Sam with an Olympic torch. Classic.

Guest: Scott Ostler of the SF Chronicle

Having a famed sportswriter like Scott Ostler visit our class offered tremendous insight on the life of someone who writes about sports for a living. And its basically living the dream.

Granted, there is obviously tons of work that goes into a job like that, but I got the sense that since Ostler has been  covering various sports his entire life, he is at a point where he just loves what he does. He seems very laid back about the whole process of sports journalism, and the fact that he notices the humor and comedic aspects of the games we all take far too seriously sometimes makes me appreciate his work even greater. I found some of his stories with various people absolutely hilarious, especially Don Nelson’s lewd comments connecting Andris Biedrins’ success to Nelson’s lack of it in college as well as Jack Nicholson’s Great Western Forum hiding place that Michael Douglas and Jimmy Buffett also had invitations to. And I had to smile when he told us of his encounter with Al Davis, who subsequently cursed him off. Good stuff.

While I hadn’t read Ostler’s articles before his visit, I feel like I am going to now.

Too good to be true

After watching the first half of the Gaels’ last Thursday against main rivals Gonzaga, there were reasons to believe that the men’s basketball team would achieve the impossible and beat the Zags at their place for the first time since the 1994-95 season. The good guys were keeping it remarkably close and found themselves down by only three at the interval.

Then reality set in.

As hopeful as I was in thinking the Gaels would emerge victorious after an impressive first half, the team succumbed to the intense atmosphere in Spokane and the sheer talent and energy of the now #9 team in the nation (according to ESPN, at least) and subsequently lost 80-61. The loss was the Gaels’ first road defeat and it snapped a six-game winning streak. What ultimately did St. Mary’s in was the dreadful second half start; the halftime break got the better of the Gaels as they came out incredibly flat-footed and found themselves losing 59-46 only three minutes in after a 16-3 Zags run. After that, no one could honestly think the Gaels could come back in an exploding McCarthy Athletic Center full of Bulldog fans that houses one of the top teams in the Western half of the US.

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That sound you just heard was the final whistle. What’s the first thing you do? Head over to this blog for insight on the best of the world of sports, focusing on the Galloping Gaels of St. Mary’s College. Coming from a guy who has attended World Cup games and supports the US National Team, the LA Galaxy, the Oakland Raiders, the LA Lakers, and the LA Kings. And, of course, your SMC Gaels.