Seattle, WA (Sports Network) - 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
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.
The Sports Network