Game Preview: UW vs. McNeese St.

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by Craig Yamada

Who: #18 Washington Huskies (0-0)  hosting McNeese St. Cowboys (0-0)

Where: Hec Edmunson Pavilion

Time: Saturday, 1 PM (PST)

Huskies 101: UW had a nice test last week, even it was against a D2 school. It exposed a few weaknesses that they will need to work on before the season starts this Saturday. The first thing was rebounding. They were outrebounded both on the offensive and defensive end. This is something that Romar will need to remedy before Saturday. Will this reflect in the starting lineup? Possibly. Romar was unsure if he was going to go big or small this weekend. Darnell Gant, who missed last game with a strained groin, is unsure if he will play on Saturday. If Roma  goes small, expect the same lineup as last weekend with Scott Suggs at the SF position with Holiday playing PF. Given the lineup that McNeese is projected to start, UW could get away with a small lineup out of the gates as their player heights matchup nicely to our smaller lineup:

PG- Gaddy, SG – IT, SF –  Suggs, PF-  Holiday, C – MBA

The good news is Venoy Overton, who has been nursing a strained hamstring, will be active for the game. With his senior leadership and defensive tenacity, expect McNeese to have issues getting the ball out of the backcourt.

Cowboys 101: McNeese plays in the Southland Conference where they posted a 10-20 record last year. The Cowboys play the Huskies for the second time in their history. Their first meeting was in the 1985-86 season where McNeese went on the road to beat UW 96-92 in OT. I doubt UW holds a chip on their shoulders for that game given most of them weren’t even born yet. Nonetheless, the Cowboys return two of their top scorers from last year in 6’3” guard, Diego Kapelan,  who scored 12.6 ppg last year. Their other go-to guy is 6’4” small forward, Patrick Richard, who averaged 12.8 ppg last year. Look for Holiday to jump all over Richard in the early going to keep them out of rhythm.  Their projected lineup looks like this:

PG – CJ Collins: 5’10” (4.6 ppg last season)

SG – Diego Kapelan: 6’3” (12.6 ppg last season)

SF – Patrick Richard: 6’4”” (12.8 ppg last season, 5.2 reb per game last season)

PF – PJ Alawoya: 6’7” (8.0 ppg, 7.4 reb per game last season)

C – Daniel Richard:  6’9” (4.6 ppg last season)

The Huskies will win if: The Huskies will win if they get into their high pressure defensive mindset from the get go. Holiday and MBA will need to come up big on the defensive end to keep Alawoya and Richard off the glass for second chance scores. Venoy Overton coming back will allow IT to play a true SG role this go-round. Look for IT to post scoring numbers like he did last year for this game. They will also have a great shot if they can force 20+ turnovers which is their normal quota per game.

Look for Terrence Ross to play a key role off the bench. From what we all saw from Ross in the first game, he is mentally and physically ready to earn bigger minutes in this offense. Confidence is not a problem for Ross as he was not gun shy in creating his own shots in the lane. Could we have found Q-Pon’s replacement this early on? One can only hope.

The Huskies will lose if: UW will lose if our bigs get into early foul trouble.  Given the possibility of not having Gant this weekend, UW can ill-afford to lose their frontcourt to fouls in this game. It is too much to ask of Desmond Simmons to shoulder big minutes this early in the season. Aziz and MBA will need to keep their bodies under control to stay in the game. If the Huskies get outrebounded, this game could be a lot more competitive than it needs to be.

Prediction: Much like last week, look for the game to be competitive for the first 7-8 minutes. Behind IT, Holiday and MBA, look for UW to pull away and win by 20+. Huskies win 91- 67.