Game Preview: UW vs. CS Northridge (Game #7)

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UW CSN preview copy
UW CSN preview copy /

The game will be broadcast on FSN and KJR-950 in Seattle, or your local Husky radio affiliate elsewhere (click here to find yours).

Tale of the tape: We’re going to try this new feature tonight. Please let me know what you think!

CSN tale of tape copy
CSN tale of tape copy /

What you need to know about the Huskies:

The Huskies look to rebound from their 99-92 overtime loss to Texas Tech on Thursday night. The Huskies were in position to win the game in the final five seconds when Elston Turner went to the line and missed two big free throws.

At least until the new rankings come out, The Huskies remain ranked 12th in the AP poll and 10th in the Coaches’ Poll, their highest showing since January 2006.

Quincy Pondexter comes into this game following his career-high point total (31), which he told The Seattle Times he didn’t care about at all, since the Huskies lost the game. Pondexter also blamed himself for the loss despite his impressive numbers.

The Huskies’ other star, Isaiah Thomas, has had three rough games in a row. Although he scored 16, 13 and 18 points respectively in the games against San Jose State, Montana and Texas Tech, Thomas has shot 13-44 (29.5%) over that stretch.

This will be the third all-time meeting between the Huskies and the Matadors, with UW having won every game in the series. They last played in 2008, with the Huskies winning 80-66 at Hec Ed.

Projected lineup: G – Venoy Overton, G – Isaiah Thomas, G – Elston Turner, F – Quincy Pondexter, F – Matthew Bryan-Amaning

Huskies to watch:

Sophomore guard, Elston Turner, and junior forward, Matthew Bryan-Amaning: On a night in which the Huskies missed 12 free throws and had 19 turnovers, Turner and MBA, respectively, had the miscues that will be remembered. Will Turner, who otherwise had his best game as a Husky (career-high 15 points, four rebounds), get the chance to start again and bury some more big threes? Can Bryan-Amaning, a player whose confidence tends to spike and plummet minute-to-minute, focus on the positives he’s shown this season, instead of the bad pass against Tech?

What you need to know about Cal State Northridge:

The Matadors come into the game at 4-3, having won their last three games, most recently defeating Idaho at home on Thursday night, 95-93.

The Matadors won the Big West conference last season, going 17-14 overall and losing 81-70 to Memphis in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.

Head coach Bobby Braswell is in his fourteenth season as the head coach of the Matadors. He lost five of his top eight performers from last season, but fields a team heavy on upperclassmen in 2009/2010.

The Matadors, like the Huskies, play a fast-paced game and like to get out and run. Point guard Mark Hill is cut from the same mold as Husky guards, Isaiah Thomas and Venoy Overton — he plays the game at a breakneck pace, even if there are moments his coach wishes he’d slow it down.

6’4″ senior guard Kenny Daniels is the team’s leading scorer, and comes off a 39-point performance against Idaho. He’s adept at driving to the rim, but also attempts more than three three-point shots per game, connecting on eight of 23 so far this season.

11 players average more than 10 minutes per game for the Matadors — evidence of both depth, and a coach who fears frequent substitutions about as little as Lorenzo Romar.

Projected lineup: G – Mark Hill, G – Raymond Cody, G – Kenny Daniels, F – Lenny Daniel, F – Michael Lizarraga

Matador to watch:

Senior forward, Willie Galick: Galick hasn’t started every game this season, but the 6’8″ forward is still second on the team in scoring (11.1 ppg) and rebounding (5.9 rpg), and shoots 56.5% from the field. After the Huskies got beat so frequently to the rim during the Texas Tech game, Galick would likely be a main beneficiary of similarly flawed defense by the Dawgs on Sunday.

The path to victory:

Lock the back door: Facing an adept running team for the first time on Thursday, the Huskies found themselves setting up too slowly and sloppily on defense, and got caught repeatedly on backdoor passes to streaking players along the baseline. One player, preferably Matthew Bryan-Amaning, when he’s in the game, must be instructed to play the safety position when the Matadors run and protect the rim.

Care with the ball at key moments: Venoy Overton and Isaiah Thomas provide a deadly combination for most teams to defend. Yes, Isaiah Thomas’s ridiculously ill-advised pass to Quincy Pondexter at the end of regulation, will be nearly forgotten about, since the ball rolled to Elston Turner. But, it was just one example of the Husky guards needing to slow it up (just a bit) and be more careful with the ball during crunchtime.

A quick word from the opposition:

Cal State Northridge head coach Bobby Braswell was kind enough to speak with us this week. Here’s part of what we discussed. Click here for the full interview:

Montlake Madness: Please give me the capsule scouting report on your team as you see it at this point — style of play, strengths, weaknesses, etc.

Coach Braswell: We won four of our last five games so I think we’re improving. Obviously we got off to a rough start having to go play at Purdue who’s the number-four-ranked team in the country right now. They’re a very good basketball team and we kind of got our nose bloodied a little bit but we’ve steadily made improvements as the seasons progressed

We’re known as a defensive-minded team. It’s still early in the year for us, we’ve got a lot of new guys that are here and are learning how to play defense the way I want to play defense.

MM: What’s your strategy for beating Washington?

CB: We have to try and control the tempo as much as we can. Washington obviously wants to get the ball up and down the floor and we’ve got to be smart and not turn the basketball over and try to slow them down. That’s the main objective, try and control the tempo.

What I expect:

I expect that the coaching staff will have to make some sort of adjustment to the way they coach Isaiah Thomas until his shot starts falling. I’m not sure whether this is an example of teams now understanding how to scout and prepare for Thomas, or simply as string of off games. But, clearly Thomas’s permanent green light to the rim is not working for him, or the Huskies, right now.

I expect Elston Turner to continue to spend a lot of time on the court, and likely start again. If he gets the chance to put up shots, the Huskies may have the third scoring option they’ve been looking for.

I expect the Huskies to bounce back big now after three games that all felt a shade below the team’s capability. I’m picking the Dawgs by 15, 101-86.