Madness Marches on in Moraga 

Is it too late to jump on the bandwagon for the St. Mary’s Gaels? I hope not because it looked a little empty heading into the NCAA tournament in Providence, R.I., this week.

St. Mary’s men’s basketball team sliced, diced, mugged and out-muscled a much more-heralded team from Richmond, today, dispatching the Spiders with relative ease, with Omar Samhan putting on a big-man clinic putting up 29 points and 12 rebounds, even though he was on the bench for long stretches due to foul trouble.

But St. Mary’s is fun because they have people like Samhan and coach Randy Bennett, who offer up gems during pregame and postgame interviews.

Samhan predicted earlier that the Gaels, from lovely Moraga, would win the national championship “because someone has to win it. It might as well be us.”

And then after beating Richmond, a team that nearly every basketball “expert” said would handle St. Mary’s with relative ease, Bennett said he wasn’t really surprised. “The only teams that have beaten us this year have had pretty big bigs,” Bennett said, and your bigs better be better than his bigs on game day.

Why is St. Mary’s so successful? “Because we’re a team,” Bennett explained. And how’s that for a slam dunk.

St. Mary’s plays Villanova on Saturday, and no one will give them a chance — except me and Samhan and Bennett and the rest of the team.

We’re out to prove the Gaels are on a magical roll — after having won their first NCAA tournament game in 51 years.

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