Team preview: Saint Mary's

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(Information in this team report is as of October 1.)

Some shoes are harder to fill than others.

Those left by the departure of Saint Mary's forward Daniel Kickert, a three-time all-West Coast Conference choice and the school's career scoring leader, would seem to fit perhaps Paul Bunyan.

Or perhaps not. Gaels coach Randy Bennett isn't too concerned about replacing Kickert's 16.7 points and 5.6 rebounds per game. While he doesn't have another Kickert on the current roster, he figures he can always get a few more points or boards out of what he has.

The hard part, Bennett said, is finding the other things Kickert delivered, the things that are not so easy to measure.

"My biggest concern in losing Kickert is not as a scorer so much, because I think we'll replace that with a lot of people," Bennett said. "But he was a great competitor. He gave us confidence. He'd been in so many battles and so many big games.

"I don't know who's going to do that for us this year. I think it will happen, but the last three years, I knew who was going to do it. I knew every night when we went out there, we had the edge at his position and we could always play off that. It's leadership on the court, it's toughness. I don't know who's going to replace that. I think we'll get it done, but I can't tell you where it's coming from."

The points? Well, Bennett mentioned the dreaded "committee," but look for much of the gap to be filled by 6-5 junior Brett Collins, a bullish 'tweener with a knack for putting the ball in the basket. Last season, splitting time at the two forward positions and averaging only 22.5 minutes, Collins scored 11.6 points per game, second on the team to
Kickert, He added 3.9 rebounds per game.