It’s happening again. Winter break’s end is drawing near, and you begin to realize that the time has come to return to the Land of the Spo, home of the Zag. The change of pace was nice, sitting in a warm living room, chips and guac in hand, watching the Zags in recline from your leather lazy boy throne. Gotta love mom, dad, and the sibs, especially when they all gather round the flat screen to watch the game. But there comes a point when you grow weary of explaining that we aren’t the “Zogs” and don’t attend “Gon-zeg-uh” University. Close your eyes, picture Kelly’s flowing locks, and inhale the smell of the Ben and Jerry’s cart in the southwest corner of the MAC. You’re almost there, the St. Mary’s game is just two eves away.
Although Thursday is the inaugural Men’s Basketball game of 2013 at McCarthy, this isn’t our first rodeo. It is widely known that the GU vs. SMC rivalry is one of the best in the west. Our beloved Rob Sacre, who now dawns a Los Angeles Laker’s jersey in place of his Bulldog blue and red, was quoted last spring saying “I don’t think there’s anything like it in the country, to be honest.” As the competition grows fiercer, the #DIRT gets deeper. So even if you consider yourself a WCC Basketball expert, study up, because ish is about to get real.
Before we get to the players themselves, let’s first take a look at the SMC students, with whom we’ll be up against. Despite the fact that a fair number of us probably played high school basketball in a gym more impressive than the McKeon Pavilion, the “Gael Force” has grown recently and shows resemblance to an infant Kennel. Rollin’ 1,200 deep (with 700 seats available during games) the GF is missing two ingredients vital to establishing WCC Fan/Spirit/In-Game Atmosphere dominance: Zags and Swag. But apparently, they are shaking things up and “going wild.” I guess “wild” is defined a little differently when you live in Moraga, no offense to any Zags hailing from the area (but I’m guessing you’d agree). Oh and with the pronunciation again…Our mascot doesn’t rhyme with polliwog. It’s Gon-ZAG (as in bag)-a. Get it right, especially if you are going to publicly diss us in a YouTube video.
The “wild” ways of the Gael Force may not actually be that appreciated by junior guard, #1, Jorden Page (@jordenpage1). One of the four Aussie players on this year’s roster, Jorden seems to be in a little bit of a culture shock via the “wildness” of the SMC campus.
He’s like a shooting star, he’s come so far, (all the way from Australia!) and despite his non-social tendencies, Jorden has found at least one way to enjoy himself in America. Now it feels almost like A Whole New World. If only pets were allowed in the dorms, Jorden, you’d never be lonely again.
Freshman guard, Treaven Duffy (@TrevD25), decided to redshirt this season. The #OlynykClinic that KO has been conducting about twice a week for most of the season is proof that a year off can do wonders for a player. But it seems that Treaven has been using his time off to work more on his rap game than his hoop game. TD’s homies Kato and Leezy join him in a group that they call “The Roster” and they’ve been layin’ down the beats, #reeeemix.
Suns out, guns out for the Gaels. Here are a few team members’ favorite nicknames. From the left, we have “Scuba”, formerly known by his given name, Stephen Holt. Next, it seems we have finally found (Brad) Waldow, who’s been sneakily been hiding behind the alias “Mandingo” all these years. Who knew?! Glad to see he’s lost the red and white stripes. Don’t confuse Jorden Page with the real LL Cool J (Ladies Love Cool Jorden? Didn’t think so). And Beau Levesque, the next super swoll one, appropriately called “Flex.” And there’s Waldow, out of hiding again…
Junior guard #14, Stephen “Scuba” Holt or (a solid Jesuit High School Alumn from Portland) seems to have an ulterior career path brewing, just in case the ‘ol basketball thing doesn’t work out. He’s recently taken a leaf out of Tiger’s book and picked up golf to supplement his play on the hardwood. He’s disgruntled, however, because even though he keeps getting the highest score, he can’t seem to win a round.
I’d say retire those clubs for the season, #Tiger2.0.
Hey, you can’t punish a man for preparedness. Plan C for Holt/Scuba, if neither hoops nor golf work out, is fueled by his apparent entrepreneurial spirit. If you are looking for somewhere to spend all your Christmas money from Grandma, I’d suggest checking out @SHolt503 on Twitter. He’s been running quite a business, with interests in not only selling his own used stuff, but also buying used stuff off his followers. Check it out, and show your support of his business aspirations. “Hit his line” and see if he is interested in buying anything from you or stake your claim on his “grey/black AJF 10 Size 14′s” before they’re gone.
Shane Ryan, sports writer for Grantland, said it best. “Coming into the season, there were two things I vaguely remembered about Saint Mary’s: 1. For whatever reason, they have a lot of players from Australia and 2. They have that scruffy guy with the scariest/greatest mouth piece in the history of the game.” And though I question it’s greatness, the oral accessory is the defining feature of SMC’s senior guard from Australia, our favorite bloke, #4, Mouthguard Dellavedova (@Matthewdelly).
But really, mate, Matthew Dellavedova has been the favorite of Kennel hecklers since the first time he graced Spokane with his mouthguard. The funny part is that the Kennel is by no means the only place in which Matty’s two toned mouthguard is the butt of a joke or two. Most of college basketball chuckles right along with us.
In a Sports Illustrated article from the NCAA tournament in 2010 called: Style Archive: Best of the Dance, Luke Winn dubs Delly’s style “The Ralfie” and asks “is the Aussie wearing a mouthguard, or being forced– a la A Christmas Story’s main character– to put a bar of soap in his mouth? We shall never know.”
Jeff Eisenberg nailed the most mind boggling aspect to Delly’s whole mouthguard stint in his article titled The Six Most Outrageous Styles from the NCAA Tournament, when he wrote:
“A two-toned blue and white mouthpiece is already a daring look, but Saint Mary’s guard Matthew Dellavedova made it so much worse because he could not seem to keep it inside his mouth. Each time TV cameras showed a closeup of Dellavedova during the Gaels’ surprising Sweet 16 run, the mouthpiece was so conspicuous that CBS analyst Bill Raftery couldn’t resist chiming in. Said Raftery with a wry chuckle, “That’s a man who has a lot of confidence.”
The best mouthguard related press, however, has got to be from AP Sports Writer, Kristie Rieken in 2010. Catching Delly mouth(piecing) off, Rieken managed to get him to directly address the point of the obtrusive two-toned hunk of plastic between his teeth.
“Saint Mary’s guard Matthew Dellavedova, a shaggy-haired freshman from Australia, doesn’t understand why people are so interested in the mouth guard he wears during games. There have been several blog posts and tweets calling the oversized, two-toned mouth piece ugly since the start of the tournament. Dellavedova, who is averaging 12.3 points a game, said there really isn’t a story behind it, he simply wants to protect his perfectly straight teeth. “I got my braces off and I wanted to get a mouth guard to protect the teeth,” he said with a smile to show his pearly whites. “When you go through that you don’t want to lose it.” When he wore it while playing in Australia, no one seemed to notice. “In Australia, I never really got a comment about it,” Dellavedova said. “It’s just over here people talk about it. Everything here is sort of a bigger deal, I guess.”
It seems to me that someone so dedicated to their dental health should probably not chew their fingernails, Matthew. Also, don’t forget to wear your retainers to bed.
Back to Mr. Shane Ryan’s article on Grantland. Here’s a little more insight behind the mouthguard. Ryan writes:
“Dellavedova (which literally translates to “the teeth of the leopard,” maybe) leads the team with 15.5 points and 6.4 assists per game. From this interview, I also learned some other fun facts about “Delly.” [[Perhaps the mouthguard is actually an attempt to mask his insecurity about having leapoard teeth?]]
- “He thinks people are more “in your face” here.” [[And by "people" Delly probably means "Zags, in the Kennel", because yes, Matthew, we do enjoy getting up in your grill during games. Surely by using our American-ness to get in his face, we'll be able to also get in his head on Thursday.]]
- “Except for Whole Foods, he doesn’t like American cuisine.” [[I found this answer odd, because Whole Foods is actually a grocery store, not a type of food or restaurant. Regardless, a quick canvass of Delly's twitter did prove his love of health, vegetables, and Whole Foods is legitimate. Sorry, Mouthguard, but Spokane doesn't actually have a Whole Foods. You better pack yourself an extra smoothie.]]
- “His favorite food is “garlic bread with spag’ bol’.” [[What the hael is spag' bol', you ask? A British dish that looks dangerously identical to Spaghetti (an Americanized-Italian favorite). For such a health conscious veggie lover, I would have guessed Delly would steer clear of such disgusting "American" dishes. I'm going to guess spag' bol' is just as difficult to find in Spokane as Whole Foods, but maybe, if he's lucky, Coach Bennet would take Delly to Olive Garden for some garlic bread after the game.]]
- “If he could have dinner with five people, throughout history, they would be Steve Nash, Mick Malthouse (a former Australian rules football player), Carol Dreck (no idea), J.K. Rowling, and his girlfriend. Which is easily, EASILY, the worst answer to that question I’ve ever seen.” [["Carol Dreck" doesn't exist, at least not on Google's search database. (If anyone knows her, enlighten us!) What a waste of a dinner date.]]
- “If he could be an animal, he’d either be a bird or a deep sea creature.” [[If I had to guess, I'd say Delly's Patronus would probably take the form of something a little furrier, larger front teeth. Tell us what you think Delly's spirit animal is.]]
- “When asked about pregame rituals, he said: “Well, I don’t know if it’s alright to say this but I always like to have a pregame leak before the game, just to compose the thoughts and relax.” Who doesn’t, brother?” [[Translated from Australian to English, this means take a pee. Nothing like a full stream to rev your engine and really getcha going. Really, "bloke?" C'mon, "mate."]]
Even though the Illinois game is a distant faded memory, @BP3 somehow found his way into this St. Mary’s #DIRT report. Take note of senior center, #5, Kyle Rowley (@Kyle5Rowley), because, let’s just say that no friend of @BP3′s is a friend of ours. Kyle Rowley, you should choose your company more carefully.
SCOUTING REPORT SUMMARY
- Unfortunately, despite all of my research, the most important question remains unsolved: #WhatTheHaelIsAGael? It’s time to cut the crap and get right down to the source. Hit up the SMC guys before Thursday, to find the correct answer. How are we supposed to cheer against a team with an undefined mascot? Use the hashtag #WhatTheHaelIsAGael and let’s get to the bottom of this.
- Also, just to be fair, you should probably add in a courteous #BYOMG (bring your own mouthguard) to any Tweets directed at @MatthewDelly or any of his Gael Mates. I’d hate for them to make the false assumption that we provide mouth guards free of charge in the Kennel.
- Be sure to #BYOMG, yourself. Take a tip from Delly, and protect your teeth. Also, maybe if he sees 1,200 students imitating his fashion disaster, he’ll realize how bad it is and spare every person who has/and will ever watch another one of his games.
- Find the Dudes on social media and don’t forget to cash in on @SHolt503′s Twitter Pawn Shop. #Bidding’sOpen: Brad Waldow (@bradwaldow), Jorden Page (jordenpage1), Mitchell Young (@Mitchyoung3), Mouthguard Dellavedova (@matthewdelly), Kyle Rowley (@Kyle5Rowley), Stephen Holt (SHolt503), Beau Levesque (@BeauFlex15), Treaven Duffy (TrevD25), Tim Williams (@TimDunk5).
- Lastly, hide your scissors on game day. When the mouthguard comes out, things get weird and people get hurt.