Delly has fans in Warriors country 

click to enlarge The Cavaliers’ Matthew Dellavedova (8) received much credit for shutting down the Warriors’ sharpshooter Stephen Curry during Game 2 of the NBA Finals on Sunday. - BEN MARGOT/AP FILE PHOTO
  • Ben Margot/AP file photo
  • The Cavaliers’ Matthew Dellavedova (8) received much credit for shutting down the Warriors’ sharpshooter Stephen Curry during Game 2 of the NBA Finals on Sunday.

MORAGA — Deep in the heart of Warriors country, nestled in the hills less than 20 miles east of the Oracle Arena, there is a pocket of Cleveland Cavaliers supporters.

They aren't fans of LeBron James necessarily. They're fans of Matthew Dellavedova, whose team outlasted the Warriors in Game 2 of the NBA Finals on Sunday.

"Everybody on our team is rooting for Delly — or they better be," St. Mary's basketball coach Randy Bennett joked one day later. "Shoot, I like the Warriors and I'm excited for the Bay Area, but there's no question where my loyalty lies."

Bennett says this in his office on the ground floor of McKeon Pavilion, where Dellavedova's No. 4 jersey is retired. The point guard earned that distinction by guiding the Gaels to three NCAA tournament appearances in four seasons and getting his name in the school's record books.

Dellavedova, who was the 2012 West Coast Conference Player of the Year, is St. Mary's all-time leader in points, assists, 3-pointers and field-goal percentage.

"This is his program." Bennett said. "And he treats this program like it's his home away from home. So, he's always been like that. Last year he was like that. This year he's been like that, and now it happens to be that he's in the limelight right now and [he's] no different."

Even as he chases an NBA title, Dellavedova still stays in contact with his former coach.

"We text back and forth about every other day or so," Bennett said. "He is great at staying in touch with the whole program."

The undrafted free agent, whose likeness is seen all over the walls at McKeon, is also an inspiration to the players who take the floor there.

"You can't really replicate it, that kind of inspiration," Bennett said. "You've got a guy who's just gone before you. You're walking in his footprints. He's gone the same path. He's taken the same journey. Where he's at now, he's on the biggest stage of basketball and excelling."

"Our guys work out in the mornings, and I came in and they had a bounce in their step after the game. And it's nothing I did but just [from] watching a guy who went to your college do that."

Junior forward Dane Pineau, one of three Australians on the squad, is among those players.

"It's amazing because he's not just a St. Mary's guy but an Australian," Pineau said. "He's from a small town called Maryborough in the middle of nowhere and he's playing in the NBA Finals as a starting point guard. It's unreal when you think about it like that."

Emmett Naar, another of the Aussies on the team, can't help but be impressed by Dellavedova's relentless drive.

"Delly's just a classic case of he wants it more than others," said Naar, a sophomore guard said. "He was undrafted and now he's in the NBA playing in the Finals. It's just inspiration."

Dellavedova definitely wanted it more than anybody else in the closing seconds of the second game.

After James Jones missed a 3-pointer, Dellavedova crashed the boards. The 6-foot-4 guard came down with the rebound in the lane, drew a foul and then sank two free throws to seal the victory.

Jock Landale, the third Aussie on the team, wasn't surprised by the result.

"Not really, to be honest," said Landale, a sophomore center said. "The kid just plays hard. Whenever there's a loose ball, Delly's one of the guys on the floor. It's always great to see."

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Karl Buscheck

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