Keys to Victory: SMU vs Arkansas-Little Rock

With the off-season coming to an end, the start of the 2010-11 season is just moments away. For SMU, the new season is bound to be filled with ups-and-downs; however, head coach Matt Doherty, in his fifth season on the Hilltop, considers this to be most excited he has ever been for the start of a brand new season.

With the off-season coming to an end, the start of the 2010-11 season is just moments away. For SMU, the new season is bound to be filled with ups-and-downs; however, head coach Matt Doherty, in his fifth season on the Hilltop, considers this to be most excited he has ever been for the start of a brand new season.

"This is probably the most excited I feel since I've been here because this is the first group of seniors that have been through the program for four years," said Doherty.

The SMU team should be able to give Doherty a reason to be excited after they step onto the court as heavy favorites in their home-opener against Arkansas Little-Rock. The Mustangs cannot afford to lose this game or even give Arkansas Little-Rock a chance to win this game as it could ultimately give the Trojans' players confidence down the stretch.

With that said, what will SMU need to do to get their 2010-11 season started off on a high note?


Get the Ball in Dia's hands

This will end up being a common trend on "Keys to Victory", but considering that this is the season opener and it's always good to get your star players going right off the get-go, it should be a priority for SMU to get the ball in their best player's hands.

Papa Dia will be matched up with Derrick Bails, a 6'9" senior forward. Bails is coming off a season in which he averaged just six points in 15 minutes per game.

Dia has received a handful of preseason awards, which includes being named to the All C-USA first-team. The team's leading returning scorer at 12.3, the 6'9", Senegal native will look to control the paint throughout the night and bring in every possible rebound in hopes of recording his first double-double in his senior year.


Contain Bozeman

The Trojans have one primary offensive weapon, senior Soloman Bozeman. In the 2009-10 season, Bozeman led the team in nearly every offensive statistical category, including 14.3 points per game, 4.1 assists per game, and a team-high 296 attempted field goals.

With Arkansas-Little Rock's offense revolving so heavily on Bozeman, SMU must force the Trojans to look for offensive production elsewhere, whether that be senior Alex Garcia-Mendoza or senior Matt Mouzy.

Garcia-Mendoza averaged slightly over 11 points per game a year ago and was second on the team in rebounds with 144 total.

Mouzy, on the other hand, is the team's biggest threat from behind-the-arc. He shot .390% from three-point range, converting on 60 of his 154 attempts. If Mouzy can get hot, especially from deep, SMU could find themselves in an unexpected, competitive game.


Conclusion

There should be no way that SMU cannot come out with the victory over Arkansas Little-Rock, especially with one of the top players in Conference USA in their staring lineup.

Freshman Jeremiah Samarrippas will be a joy to watch, but don't expect him to play a flawless game in the season opener. Give him time to get adjusted to the college game and he will end up being a valuable piece on SMU's roster come the start of conference play.

SMU's new-look spread offense, incorporated by assistant coach Larry Mangino, will be on full display against the Trojans and will hopefully be as effective as Doherty claims it will be.


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