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McNeese State (0-0) at (18) Washington (0-0)
Friday, November 12th, 4:00 p.m. (et)
The Sports Network
By Frank Haynes, Senior College Basketball Editor
FACTS & STATS: Site: Bank of America Arena at Hec Edmundson Pavilion (10,000) -- Seattle, Washington. Television: None. Home Record: McNeese St. 0-0, Washington 0-0. Away Record: McNeese St. 0-0, Washington 0-0. Neutral Record: McNeese St. 0-0, Washington 0-0. Conference Record: McNeese St. 0-0, Washington 0-0. Series Record: McNeese State leads, 1-0.
GAME NOTES: The 18th-ranked Washington Huskies open their 2010-11 season today, as they entertain the McNeese State Cowboys in a non-conference bout at Bank of American Arena at Hec Edmundson Pavilion in Seattle.
McNeese State, which plays its basketball out of the Southland Conference, is coming off a year in which it posted a 10-20 record. The Cowboys are coached by Dave Simmons, who is entering his fifth season at the helm, and he has a record of 49-71 in his first four seasons.
Washington won the 2010 Pac-10 Conference Tournament and advanced all the way to the Sweet 16 in the NCAA Tournament before being bounced by West Virginia, and coach Lorenzo Romar has a wealth of talent back for what he and Huskie fans everywhere hope is another banner year. The Huskies are 6-2 in home openers under Romar, who owns a record of 171-91 in his eight years in charge of the UW men's basketball team.
These two teams met just once previously, with McNeese State claiming a 96-92 overtime win during the 1985-86 season.
Team MVP Patrick Richard is one of four starters back for the Cowboys this season, and he led the team in scoring in 2009-10 with 12.8 ppg. Diego Kapelan averaged 12.6 ppg, while point guard C.J. Collins and forward P.J. Alawoya also return. McNeese State has a total of 10 letterwinners back from a team that disappointed last year, winning half the number of games it lost, but there is hope, albeit somewhat tempered, for a turnaround. The frontcourt is where the Cowboys lack any sort of formidable presence, and it will be interesting to see just how they react today to a team that is clearly more talented that any they will see in the Southland this year.
Some think the loss of former star Quincy Pondexter (19.3 ppg, 7.4 rpg) will hurt the Huskies' chances of fulfilling the preseason hype surrounding them, but those who think that clearly have not seen what the rest of this team can do. The presence of guard Isaiah Thomas alone makes Washington an obvious threat to capture the Pac-10 crown, as he is coming off a year in which he averaged 16.9 points and 3.2 assists per game. The biggest concern lies in the fact that there isn't another proven offensive commodity on the roster at the moment, although Matthew Bryan-Amaning posted 8.8 ppg last season to go along with 5.9 rpg, and the 54 percent shooter from the field will need to be more aggressive at the offensive end for this team to flourish. The same can be said of Justin Holiday, Darnell Gant and Venoy Overton, all of whom possess a ton of experience.
Don't expect much from the Cowboys in this one as Thomas and the Huskies take control early and cruise to a comfortable season-opening victory.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Washington 81, McNeese State 59
11/13 10:34:53 ET
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