The Saint Mary’s Gaels did it to themselves, so we really shouldn’t feel bad for them.
Last week, the Gaels got hit with some pretty hefty sanctions by the abomination that is the NCAA. Considering that the school has lost four years of relevancy – probably more due to the recruiting aspect – this is the last season that will matter for the program for some time. Whether or not they happen to capitalize on the pretty good team they have now is yet to be seen.
Saint Mary’s journey to finish their last relevant run starts quickly. The WCC Tournament kicks of Wednesday but the Gaels won’t see action until the semifinals. Given the way the WCC Tournament sets up their brackets, the Gaels only need to win two games to claim the conference tournament title.
Since the Gonzaga Bulldogs are currently the number one ranked team in all the land, this year’s tournament champion (if it were not to be the Zags) would be able to claim some extra shine on the award. It isn’t every year that this conference boasts the No. 1 ranked team in the country. In fact, it is the only time it has ever happened, making the title that much more meaningful.
Then it is off to the NCAA Tournament – a place the Gaels won’t see for a long time. Since this will be the only moment the underclassmen will be able to wear a pair of tournament slippers, the tournament stakes have never been higher for the program. While it is far too early to predict how they will do, the WCC Tournament gets even more emphasis of importance on it for the sake of NCAA Tournament seeding.
This is it for the Gaels. One last meaningful WCC Tournament, then off for one more big dance. There won’t be a team dancing with more urgency this month than the Gaels – but still, do not feel bad for them.
Joe is a Senior Writer for Rant Sports. Follow Joe on Twitter @JosephNardone