The popularity of Saint Mary’s Gaels basketball has taken Northern California by storm over the past few seasons. After their Sweet Sixteen appearance last year, the Gaels are ready for another run in the NCAA Tournament.
Saint Mary’s is 17-3 (5-0) and faces West Coast Conference rival Gonzaga on Thursday night in Spokane, Washington. The Gaels have not won a game against the Bulldogs in Spokane since 1995. A win by the Gaels would give them a three-game lead in the conference and all but essentially wrap up the regular season title.
This will be a big test for the Gaels as they try to rebound from an 89-70 loss to Vanderbilt on Saturday. On Thursday, the Gaels will hit the court sporting their new Gaels Gone Wild shirts.
The shirt design was created by Grimy Ink, a Bay Area sports and entertainment T-shirt company co-founded by Scott Tully and Dustin Chavez. The new shirt has been named as an officially licensed apparel for the basketball team.
Tully said that designing a shirt for the Gaels was something he did as a favor to his friends that had attended the school.
"My connection to Saint Mary's and the Gaels Gone Wild project was more as a favor to some of my close friends who attend and graduated from the school," Tully said. "The whole idea came to place because my good friend is on the baseball team for Saint Mary's and my business partner Dustin graduated from Saint Mary's in 2008."
Tully, who plans to receive his master's degree from Saint Mary's in the fall, said he has been a fan of the basketball team since the days of head coach Ernie Kent and star players like Brad Millard and Frank Allocco, Jr. during the 1990s. One of his fondest memories was when the Gaels faced Tim Duncan and the Wake Forest Demon Deacons in 1997 in the NCAA Tournament.
Inspired by the rise of the current program, Tully and Chavez came with the idea of designing a shirt for a college. Naturally, choosing one of his favorite schools was an easy choice for Tully.
"Saint Mary's was an easy decision because of the connections I had to the school, their recent success in basketball, and their campus located so close to me," Tully explained. "Everybody involved in the project had no idea it was going to have so much success this quickly."
Along with the shirt, it was decided that a song and an accompanying video was also in need for the Gaels Gone Wild movement. Getting approval from the school was one of the toughest tasks on hand for the project, especially since something like this had never been done before with Saint Mary’s. The entire project would take five months to complete.
"We needed to get permission from the school to film, get the player's on the team to think the concept was legit," said Tully. They also had to go through a legal process to have the entire project officially licensed by the school.
With help from close friends Sally S Baby, Keyz and Shugz, the beat was produced and the lyrics were written for the song. The entire video was filmed by brothers Hart and Devon Perez, both Saint Mary’s alums, in only two days.
The song’s fresh beat and catchy lyrics is making waves throughout the campus.
“It’s the Ga-els gone wiiii-lld….It’s the Ga-els gone wliii-lld…. Mo-mo-mo-mo Mo-raga style!”
Since being uploaded onto YouTube only two weeks ago, the video has over 48,000 total views. ESPN is scheduled to air the video during its telecast of the Saint Mary’s-Gonzaga game.
Despite the program’s success in recent years, Tully still sees the Gaels currently at a crossroads.
“I could easily see them falling back to mediocrity if Randy Bennett were to ever leave,” said Tully. “If he stays, I see them compete with Gonzaga as not only the top team in the league each season but be the best mid major in the country.”
Led by senior guard Mickey McConell, junior forward Rob Jones and Australian sophomore guard Matthew Dellavedova, the Gaels have put themselves in a good position to make another huge run in the NCAA tournament. A lot of that can be credited to their head coach Randy Bennett.
Bennett took over a one-win program back in 2001 and with more continued success, the program could receive more funding to improve their facilities and be a competing college basketball team. A win over the Bulldogs this Thursday would get the Gaels going in that direction.
With that win, the Gaels Gone Wild movement will continue to spread throughout Northern California and garner notice from the rest of the college basketball world.
That’s the way that Saint Mary’s does things. They go wild—Moraga style!