SUNDAY (11/11/2012) WEST COAST HOOPS PREVIEW: SU/SDSU GIVES IT A TRY
By Raphielle Johnson
Two games scheduled to be played on the deck of an aircraft carrier have been canceled this weekend, with Ohio State and Marquette not even playing while the contest between Georgetown and Florida was called at halftime. Organizers of the “Battle of the Midway” hope that the weather in San Diego is cooperative, and with the Weather Channel predicting sunny skies and a temperature of 67 degrees at game time it looks as if No. 9 Syracuse and No. 20 San Diego State will be able to play without a hitch (4 PM, FSN).
Both fan bases are optimistic heading into this season as both are capable of making some noise come March. The Orange, reigning Big East regular season champions, have to account for the losses of Scoop Jardine and Kris Joseph but Jim Boeheim never lacks for talent. Sophomore Michael Carter-Wiliiams slides into the position left vacated by Jardine’s departure, and he’s more than capable of handling the point guard duties with another solid ball-handler in senior Brandon Triche at the two. Forwards C.J. Fair, James Southerland and Rakeem Christmas are three of the returnees up front expected to figure prominently, and freshman Dajuan Coleman gives Syracuse a physical banger in the paint.
But while the Orange are deep the same can be said for San Diego State, whose surplus of wings resulted in freshman Matt Shrigley deciding that he’d be best served to redshirt this season. Jamaal Franklin was the Mountain West Player of the Year last season, and he’s joined by returnees Xavier Thames, Chase Tapley and James Rahon. The Aztecs also welcome three newcomers to the mix on the wings, with freshman Winston Shepard being an incredibly versatile players and transfers J.J. O’Brien and Dwayne Polee Jr. also being talented players.
The key for San Diego State is a simple one: how do they go about attacking Syracuse’s 2-3 zone, especially when they’ll be playing outdoors? In their exhibition win over Cal State San Marcos the Aztecs spent too much time firing away from deep, making just five of nineteen from beyond the arc. If San Diego State is to beat the Syracuse zone players such as O’Brien, Polee and Deshawn Stephens have to be effective in the paint. Very rarely will a team beat Syracuse by firing away indiscriminately from deep, and falling into that trap could result in an ugly afternoon for San Diego State. Don’t look for the Aztecs to get out of control when it comes to those perimeter shots, but look for the Orange to find a way to leave San Diego with a tough victory.
3 PM Texas Southern at Boise State
4 PM Air Force at The Citadel
9 PM Montana State at Seattle (ROOT NW)
The Bobcats begin regular season play on the road, and after an offseason that featured multiple personnel issues it will be interesting to see how Brad Huse’s team performs. Xavier Blount is Montana State’s most productive returnee but it will be Montana State’s newcomers who will need to produce if the Bobcats are to surprise some people in the Big Sky. Antonio Biglow led the way in their exhibition victory over South Dakota State School of Mines with 21 points, while sophomore Michael Dison and junior Calen Coleman added 13 apiece.
In Seattle they face a team that was also impressive in their exhibition contest, as the Redhawks blew out Evergreen State last week. Allen Tate and Chad Rasmussen scored 20 points apiece in that 117-34 pasting, and with Seattle losing their top two scorers from last season Cameron Dollar will need guys to step up offensively. Can the Redhawks limit Montana State’s scoring opportunities, and can they also take care of the basketball (15.3 turnovers/game)? The Bobcats forced 29 turnovers in their exhibition victory, and while a similar number would be unrealistic in this contest they can cause Seattle some headaches defensively. But look for D’Vonne Pickett Jr. to perform well enough at the point to lead the Redhawks to a close victory.
2 PM UC Riverside at UIC
UC Riverside plays their second game in Chicago in three days on Sunday as they take on the UIC Flames, and the hope for Jim Wooldridge’s team is that they put up a better showing than they did on Friday in a 91-59 loss at DePaul. Josh Fox and Austin Quick combined to score 32 points for the Highlanders, but 24 turnovers resulted in 37 of DePaul’s 91 points. It’s rather evident that Riverside can’t afford to be that reckless with the basketball if they’re to enjoy any kind of success this season, and guard Robert Smith (seven turnovers) has to take better care of the basketball.
Chris Patton led Riverside with four assists on Friday, and he’ll need to perform well against a UIC squad that brings in one of the best recruiting classes in the Horizon League. Gary Talton is UIC’s leading returnee, but with players such as Josh Crittle (UCF transfer) and Joey Miller (Eastern Illinois transfer) eligible Howard Moore’s team could be ready to make a jump in the standings. However chemistry won’t come overnight, and with this being UIC’s first game of the season maybe Riverside can jump them early. But given the Highlanders’ struggles both last season and against DePaul on Friday, the chances of that happening are probably slim.
10 PM Arkansas-Pine Bluff at Hawaii
6 PM Charleston Southern at No. 12 Arizona (Pac-12 Networks)
8 PM Loyola (MD) at Washington (Pac-12 Networks)
This is one of two games matching Pac-12 teams with squads expected to contend for their conference titles, with New Mexico State/Oregon State being the other. Jimmy Patsos’ Greyhounds are the preseason pick of the coaches to win the MAAC, and they’ll be led by forward Erik Etherly and guards Dylon Cormier and Robert Olson. The one issue for Loyola is the fact that point guard R.J. Williams was suspended for the fall semester for a violation of team rules, meaning that Cormier and Olson will be asked to handle the bulk of the ball-handling duties. And if Washington’s perimeter defense is up to par, that could be a problem for the visitors.
For the Huskies they’ve gone to the UCLA high post offense after using the motion offense for years, with the goal being to put guards Abdul Gaddy and Andrew Andrews in position to attack the defense off the dribble. In theory that will also result in more scoring opportunities for junior shooting guard C.J. Wilcox, who the Huskies need to be their marquee scoring option if they’re to contend for another Pac-12 title. The question for Washington will be whether or not they have enough in the paint, especially with Shawn Kemp Jr. currently out of the lineup. But with Aziz N’Diaye, Desmond Simmons, Jernard Jarreau and Martin Bruenig the Huskies won’t lack for options, and keep an eye on wing Scott Suggs as well. Look for the Huskies to have enough firepower to pull away late.
9:30 PM New Mexico State at Oregon State (ESPNU)
10 PM Cal State Bakersfield at California (Pac-12 Networks)
7 PM Loyola Marymount at SMU
Larry Brown’s Mustangs don’t have a great deal of experience heading into this season, and with the Lions heading into town with one of the nation’s best point guards this one could set up to be a convincing win for the visitors. Anthony Ireland was outstanding last season for LMU, and while Drew Viney has graduated the Lions have other players to call on. Forwards Ashley Hamilton and Godwin Okonji were both solid in the Lions’ win over Pacifica on Friday, and sophomore Chase Flint and freshman Nick Stover could turn out to be two of the WCC’s best newcomers. If LMU makes sound decisions with the basketball there’s no reason to believe that they can’t leave Dallas with a victory. In fact fans would likely expect them to do so, and that’s more than fair.
2 PM UTSA at Old Dominion
9 PM Montana State at Seattle (ROOT NW)
10:30 PM New Mexico State at Oregon State (ESPNU)
Oregon State was the Pac-12 leader in scoring offense last season and they’re off to a good start after scoring 102 in their season-opening victory over Niagara. But the fact that the Beavers haven’t always shown the highest level of commitment on the other end could open things up for Daniel Mullings and company. He and Bandja Sy will be two of the returnees asked to produce for the Aggies with three starters from last year’s NCAA tournament team gone, and New Mexico State has to make things difficult on the Beavers defensively as well.
Roberto Nelson and Ahmad Starks are both capable of going off on the perimeter, and inside Oregon State has a number of options including Angus Brandt, Joe Burton, Devon Collier and Eric Moreland. If Oregon State takes care of business defensively this becomes a very tough match-up for New Mexico State, but it won’t be an impossible task either. Rebounding was one of the areas in which the Aggies “buttered their bread” last season and if they can do the same in Corvallis, Marvin Menzies’ squad can pull off the upset. But the question of whether or not the Aggies have enough defensively to slow down the Beavers is what makes picking the upset tough. Look for Oregon State to hang on in front of the home folks.
*********Follow NBE Sports on Twitter: http://twitter.com/NBESports*****