Entry pass. Post move. Bucket. Repeat. Such is the strategy of Saint Mary’s (CA) and their senior big man Jock Landale as the produces the country’s third-most efficient offense, per Kenpom.com. The small California school has had a long run of success of playing second-fiddle to Gonzaga in the West Coast Conference. Head Coach Randy Bennett has taken them to numerous NCAA tournaments including last season and produced professionals like Patty Mills and Matthew Delldedova.
However, while ardent college basketball fans know the 6’11” Landale’s name, most casual followers do not. A weak conference, and avoidance of a challenging non-conference, keeps the Gaels anonymous, until they’re a bubble team come selection Sunday.
When you look at what Landale has done the past two seasons, that is just a downright disgrace. The Aussie has a great name and a great game.
He was the WCC preseason Player of the Year after a 2016-2017 where he averaged 16.9 points-per-game (PPG) and 9.5 rebounds-per-game (RPG) with 17 double-doubles. He posted a tremendous 121.1 Offensive Rating (ORtg) despite being used to a team high 30 percent of their possessions. He posted effective field goal (eFG%) and true shooting (TS%) over 60 and was top 25 in the country in offensive and defensive rebounding percentages. For all intents and purposes, when the ball was on the blocks or deep in the key, he was a vacuum. Last year he finished second in KenPom’s KPOY rankings only behind former Villanova player and current Los Angeles Laker Josh Hart.
What may have been most spectacular about his big 2016-2017 season was a complete lack of anticipation. Landale came out of nowhere to become one of the country’s best player. This year he does not have such a luxury.
Yet Landale is still dominating. This season he has the highest ORtg in the country with 127.7, according to KenPom. It is delineated of players who use at least 28 percent of their team’s possessions and 40 percent of their minutes. Landale is a 30.6 percent and 82 percent respectively. These are both up from last year, meaning his efficiency has only increased. His eFG% and TS% have both bumped about four percent.
Yet Landale is a simple player. He is not a super athlete or a new age “stretch” big. According to hoop-math.com (https://hoop-math.com/SaintMary's(CA)2018.php) he takes nearly 70 percent of his shots at the rim. But with his deft touch, strength and post move arsenal he has a field goal percentage of 69 percent in that range. Landale is clearly the driver of the Gaels’ offense, and subsequently, the crux of any and all opponents’ game plans. Saint Mary’s even stepped up their strength of schedule in the 2017-2018 season, positioning Landale and fans for a letdown.
Yet Landale has not just answered skepticism; he has thrived. He is still second in the current season in the KPoy race behind only the incredible Oklahoma freshman Trae Young.
Landale is a dream for a junkie. He is an ambidextrous finisher, a great post finisher and can knock down the open jump shot. He combats double-teams with ease. However, he is not a fan’s dream. He is not a flashy athlete or volume shooter. He isn’t brash and doesn’t fit in the era of space and pace. He plays for a small school in a small conference against other small schools on late night ESPNU games no one watches. But what he does do is produce in nearly all facets of the game. Where he is missing out? Producing a little fanfare, and that is a darn shame.
Matt Barresi is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at email@example.com.