Game Preview: Houston Baptist

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by: John Chase

The Huskies return home for Thanksgiving and a little home-cooking tomorrow against Houston Baptist (2-3). After suffering a humiliating defeat at the hands of Saint Louis, the Huskies have a lot of work to do to get back on track and the game could be a good moral booster before the trip to the Big Apple.

Houston Baptist’s mascot is also the Huskies so to avoid confusion I’ll refer to them by Houston or Houston Baptist.

Houston is an uptempo team averaging 73 points per game. Their season low has been 64 points in a loss to Louisiana-Lafayette. Houston has four players in double digit scoring, three averaging 12 points and one with an 11 point average. Their leading scorer is also their leading rebounder with just under 8 boards a game. Joe Latas stands at 6-11 and 275lb and will be a tough match-up for the Dawgs. Aziz N’Diaye and Shawn Kemp will need to be at their best to slow him down.

Playing time is pretty even for Houston. 10 players have played in all 5 games and only 3 players have not seen any game time action. The lowest minute average is 10 minutes while the game high is 25 minutes. 9 players are picking up 18 minutes or more. To me this indicates a well balanced team that will be consistent throughout the 40 minutes.

Houston is averaging only 11 assists, but giving up 16 turnovers per game. The turnovers come from just about everywhere with Joe Latas leading the way at 3 per game. 5-7 170lb Marcel Smith is averaging around 2 per game as is 6-5 190lb Marcus Davis. Houston is also a lower rebounding team with only 34 boards and average with only Latas picking up more than 5 a game.

Six players have attempted 10 or more 3-pointers this season and Smith leads the team with a 55% average on 6/11 shooting. Ronald March leads in makes with 9 on 27 attempts. This is a team that can extend the defense and find moderate success from just about any player on the court. The Dawgs could find themselves facing a team very similar to themselves and I’m interested to see how they cope with such a match-up. To me it seems favorable as anytime the Huskies can get up and run is a good day for us.

Jonathan Evans leads the team in assists with 2.4 per game, while also committing 2.2 turnovers per game. At 5-10 and 170lb he is a quick and mobile guard that is definitely a pass-first point guard rather than a shooting guard. At only 3 points per game he is not too high of an offensive threat, but cannot be allowed free reign while trying to prevent opportunities from other players.

Predicted Starting Line-Ups:

Houston Baptist:

G – Marcel Smith 5-7 170lb
G – Tyler Russell 6-0 175lb
G – Ronald March 6-4 195lb
F – Marcus Davis 6-5 190lb
F – Joe Latas 6-11 275lb

Washington:

G – Abdul Gaddy 6-3 185lb
G – C.J. Wilcox 6-5 190lb
G – Terrence Ross 6-6 195lb
F – Darnell Gant 6-8 230lb
C – Aziz N’Diaye 7-0 260lb

Keys to the Game:

  • Offensive Patience – UW showed little composure and patience in their last outing and it was a nightmare. 25 points in a half has to be one of the lowest totals in quite some time for the high scoring Huskies. The Dawgs need to help Gaddy regain his composure and develop their half-court offense. Even if our post doesn’t take a lot of shots, it’s important that the Dawgs work the ball into the middle to open up our perimeter shooters.
  • Backcourt Pressure – The Houston center poses a big threat to the Huskies. He’s a talented and strong center who will give N’Diaye a run for his money. The best way to go about this is preventing entry passes to the post by pressuring the Houston guards with tougher, in your face, man-to-man defense. Houston is a turnover prone team, which could lead to the kind of transition basketball that Romar and team love to run. If Tony Wroten gets matched up with their 5-7, I’ll be interested in seeing if he can avoid the foul trouble he encountered against FAU’s 5-6 guard.
  • Rebounding – The Huskies need to control the glass, especially when shots aren’t falling. I can’t imagine the Dawgs having as poor of shooting night as last weekend, but it could happen and we need to crash the backboard all night. Rebounding and free throws are some of the easiest and quickest ways to keep a team in the game or blow a team out of the water. If Houston is able to gain an advantage on the glass, expect a closer game.

Final Thoughts:

This is an interesting match-up for the Huskies, especially in light of the beat down they suffered in Saint Louis. While the Huskies got their act together in the second half and finished 13 down rather than 25, the team still showed a lot of holes and anxiety that could come back to haunt them.

Houston knows how to score and get their point from a variety of players, so don’t expect the bench to be a big drop off in talent. I’d like to think that the Dawgs can win this one with ease, but after the let down I witnessed last week I’m not so sure.

I fully expect a win, but not one without its bumps and stresses. Look for Terrence Ross to continue his rise and Tony Wroten to cause hair pulling and fist pumping as he develops a better feel for the college game. I suspect C.J. Wilcox will have another slow night as he tended to be a streaky shooter last season. One other promising stat is the Houston defense is allowing 79 points a game with a low score of 73 and a high of 82.

If all goes well and the team fires up their cylinders again we could see UW drop 100 on the night. All this said I’ll call it: UW-90 HBU-75

Go Dawgs!