Mickey McConnell enjoyed a breakout junior season, ranking second on the team in scoring with 13.8 points per game, while handing out 5.1 assists per game. McConnell, who earned All-WCC First Team honors, is one of the top shooters in the conference, ranking second in three-point field goals made (77), while shooting an incredible 51.0 percent from beyond the arc.
This past season Bennett guided the Gaels to their best season in program history. His 2009-10 squad defeated Gonzaga, a team that had knocked Bennett out of the West Coast Conference Tournament four times since 2003, to win the 2010 WCC Tournament crown and an automatic berth to the NCAA Tournament. Saint Mary's used that momentum to down Richmond in the first round. Advancing to the second round against No. 9 nationally ranked Villanova, Bennett guided Saint Mary's to a stunning upset to advance to the Sweet Sixteen for the second time in program history and first since 1959 when there were just 23 teams in the tournament.
Bennett has pulled off arguably the best turn-around of a program in the entire country. Prior to Bennett's arrival, the Gaels posted a 2-26 during the 2000-01 season with one of those wins coming against a non-DI opponent. The nine-year head coach of Saint Mary's, Bennett has guided the Gaels to an overall record of 183-103 (.640) during that time. His teams over the last eight seasons have not posted a losing record, and in the last three seasons alone, Bennett's Gaels went 81-20 for an impressive 80.2 winning percentage and three consecutive postseason berths.
The Gaels should boast one of the top back-courts in the nation with the return of senior Mickey McConnell and sophomore Matthew Dellavedova. The duo accounted for 29 points five assists and only two turnovers in the Gaels' second round NCAA Tournament win over Villanova.
McConnell earned All-WCC first team honors last season after averaging 13.8 ppg to go along with 5.1 apg. He was one of the top three-point shooters in the nation, knocking down 77 three-pointers on an amazing 51.0 percent from beyond the arc.
Dellavedova stepped right into the Gaels' starting lineup and helped people forget about fellow countryman Patrick Mills, starting all 34 SMC games and averaging a team-high 36.4 minutes per game. Dellavedova enjoyed a standout first season, ranking third on the team in scoring with 12.1 ppg, while handing out 4.5 apg and grabbing 3.5 rpg en route to All-WCC freshman team honors.
McConnell and Dellavedova were the two best ball-handlers in the league ranking 1-2 in the WCC in assist-to-turnover ratio. McConnell had a 2.35 ratio, while Dellavedova ranked second among all NCAA freshmen with a 2.28 ratio.
To help soften the blow of the graduation of Omar Samhan and Ben Allen on the Gaels' frontline, Saint Mary's will look to a pair of newcomers, one of which is very familiar with the WCC. Saint Mary's welcomes in junior forward Rob Jones, a key member of the 2008 University of San Diego's NCAA Tournament team, and 6-9 junior forward Kenton Walker, a transfer from Creighton. As a sophomore for Creighton in 2008-09, Walker averaged 5.1 points and 3.9 rebounds, and played in 34 games for a Bluejays' team that posted a 27-8 overall record. In two seasons with San Diego, Jones averaged 9.2 ppg and 5.7 rpg.