2 – Play 30-second Defense
On thing St. Mary’s coach Randy Bennett has always excelled at is instilling a patient, disciplined gameplan. On offense the Gaels are more than willing to use most of the shot clock to get the right shot, and on defense they’re not going to get out of position and break down their defensive rotation.
And while BYU is good enough offensively to score on St. Mary’s, it’s questionable whether they’re good enough defensively to stop the Gaels, especially late in the shot clock.
BYU plays decent defense at the beginning of a possession, but they’ve lacked the discipline and focus to hold their rotations deep into the shot clock. All it takes is one player to overplay the ball, give the opponent a driving lane, or get beat on a ball-fake for the entire defensive rotation to break down and lead to easy baskets.
St. Mary’s will make you pay if you give them good looks. They’re hitting 48.9% of their shots and 39.5% of their three-pointers, putting them in the Top 20 nationally in both categories.
The only reason they don’t score as many points on average as other teams (like BYU) is their deliberate use of the shot clock. They’re one of the 50 slowest teams in the country in possessions per game, but they’re the masters at making the most of fewer possessions.
St. Mary’s will slow Thursday night’s game down and use the shot clock to their advantage, waiting for the BYU defense to make mistakes. If the Cougars make those mistakes regularly they’ll have little chance of beating the Gaels.