Game Notes: St. Mary’s at Pepperdine
Samhan is a man among boys.
For those who haven’t heard of the name Omar Samhan, you’re not alone. The senior center from St. Mary’s, a borderline 7-footer, close to 275-pounds, is a relative unknown on the national level. That is, for the time being.
Dominating efforts on both ends of the floor, similar to the one displayed Thursday night in an 88-71 victory over Pepperdine, leads us to believe that his days of receiving little, or no, recognition could be coming to an end soon.
The Waves had no answer for the big man. He scored 23 points, on 11-14 shooting from the field, to go along with 19 rebounds and 3 blocks in 34 minutes of action. By most accounts, that’s an effort worthy of a second look.
That’s where SLAMonline comes in. If we don’t give this dude some props, there’s a very good chance that no one in the country will.
On offense, the best part about Samhan’s game is he’s basketball smart, often times playing within himself and taking what the defense gives him.
That’s not to say that he can’t be decisive when called upon. Once Samhan puts his mind to it, getting to the bucket with a drop-step or a step-through isn’t much of a problem. Ask the Pepperdine big men, they can vouch for that fact.
An improving jumper tends to keep opponents honest out on the perimeter, although he doesn‘t possess great range. That facet of his game could use some work, most definitely, especially if plans on playing beyond college.
Samhan is an active defender who’s not afraid to mix it up and get after things. The opposition doesn’t matter. Undersized and quicker posts, dudes his own size or bigger, he welcomes the challenge. He’s relentless on the boards, grabbing every ball in sight. And his length and timing enables him to alter and block plenty of shots.
Sounds like a ringing endorsement right?
We’re not the only ones that think he has potential. Several scouting services agree that with continued improvement, there’s a chance Samhan could end up being selected in the 2010 NBA Draft, most likely in the second round.
For those who hadn’t heard of the name Omar Samhan before, no worries, none whatsoever. Go ahead and consider this an introduction.
*** Trivia time: Who’s the most famous basketball player to ever wear a Pepperdine jersey? Take a second to think about it. No Google searching either. Time’s almost up.
*** The answer: The late Dennis Johnson of Boston Celtics lore. If you guessed DJ, give yourself a pat on the back. The Southern California native played at nearby Dominguez High in Compton before moving onto Harbor College in Los Angeles, and ultimately, Pepperdine. In his only season in sunny Malibu, Johnson averaged 15.7 points, 5.8 rebounds and 3.3 assists for the Waves, who cracked the top 20 and ended up making an appearance in the NCAA Tournament.
*** There’s a familiar face. It’s Lorne Jackson, a kid from my neck of the woods, Simi Valley, about a 40 minute drive from Pepperdine. As a senior, he was one of the top 25 high school players in the Golden State. Apparently, little has changed. The freshman will be starting at the point for the Waves tonight. It will be interesting to see how his game has developed.
*** Mickey McConnell is knocking down jumper after jumper during warm-ups. After flipping through some notes, I can see why. The St. Mary’s junior is shooting 55 percent from the beyond the three-point arc this season, a total ranking him fourth in the nation.
*** Samhan establishes himself early on. He misses his first shot, hustles for the rebound and puts it back. A layup follows, then a dunk to give St. Mary’s a 14-10 lead at 14:55.
*** Keion Bell answers with an outside shot and a pair of layups as Pepperdine manages to stay close. It‘s a one possession game. The Gaels are up two points with 8:18 left.
*** The shooting exhibition from McConnell continues. He buries his first five three-pointers, a pair of which extend the advantage to 33-27 at the 7:01 mark. Somebody better put a body on him.
*** Ben Allen gets in on the act for the Gaels. He converts four free-throws and makes a jumper. All of a sudden, the Waves trail by 10 points with 1:40 remaining before the break.
*** Bell keeps Pepperdine close down the stretch with his sheer athelticism, scoring 16 points over the course of the first 20 minutes. He’s made more than a handful of amazing plays, which reminds me of something. Anyone remember that crazy slam he pulled off during Pepperdine’s Midnight Madness? You know, the one where he jumped over five teammates.
*** Behind 8 points and 11 rebounds from Samhan, St. Mary’s takes the crowd out of the game and leads 41-36 at intermission.
*** Samhan picks up right where he left off, scoring nine points during a five-minute stretch. The Gaels go up by 11 points at 14:42.
*** St. Mary’s goes on an 8-2 run, capped by a McConnell basket. The lead balloons to 65-50 with 11:44 remaining in this one. The Waves better figure things out, and do so quickly, or this one could be over in a hurry.
*** Bell provides a spark with a high-flying dunk to cut the deficit to 11 points at 10:29. Fans at Firestone Fieldhouse go crazy. Absolutely crazy. Bell has some bounce, some serious bounce off the floor. He can get up, straight up.
*** Any momentum the Waves might have had disappears quickly, due in part to the efforts of Samhan. A rebound and basket, and a block on the other end of the floor, essentially demoralizes Pepperdine. The Gails lead 75-56 at 8:35.
*** Another Samhan rebound and bucket makes it a 19-point game with 2:33 left. Seconds later, he heads to the bench for good after a job well done. The Gaels win, 88-71.
*** Didn’t talk much about Allen, but maybe I should have. The Australian was efficient, finishing with a career-high 19 points for the Gaels. He was 5-10 from the field and 7-7 from the free-throw line. Not too shabby.
*** Bell was one of the few bright spots for Pepperdine. He ended up with 24 points, 7 rebounds and 4 assists in 38 minutes of play. Without much help, the Waves didn’t stand much of a chance against Samhan & Co.