SMU opens the 2014-15 season at home against Lamar on Friday night. This is SMU’s third season under head coach Larry Brown, and the Mustangs are hoping to improve on last year’s top finish in the NIT. With a number of key players returning this season, coach Brown’s squad is looking to make some noise on a national scale. The Mustangs enter this season ranked No. 22 by the preseason Associated Press Top 25 and the USA Today Coaches Top 25.
WHEN: Friday, Nov. 14, 2014. Tipoff is at 8:30 p.m.
WHERE: Moody Coliseum Dallas, TX
TV/RADIO: ESPN 3/SMU-KAAM 77AM
SERIES: SMU leads 3-0
LAST MEETING: SMU won 102- 70 at SMU on Nov.21, 2010
PONY TRENDS: It is all about getting things started on the right foot. Typically, teams coached by Brown fare well in season openers, particularly when they open at home. Brown is 8-1 in NCAA season openers, 9-0 in home openers and 4-0 when opening the season at home. SMU is an unbelievably good home team, and Moody pervades a huge home court advantage. Last season SMU won 18 home games- finishing 18-1 in all home games and 12-1 in games played at Moody. The Mustangs boasted the seventh best field-goal percentage defense in the nation, by holding opponents to 38.5 percent from the field, and allowing only 62.2 points a game. SMU on the other hand, averaged 71 points a game, shot 48.3 percent from the field and 37.9 from three-point range. SMU has 11 players returning from last season’s squad, so the core unit remains unchanged while the younger guys return with more experience. With very little turnover on the roster, much of this teams out-put should stay the same or get better.
OPPONENT STRENGTHS: The Cardinals’ biggest weapon is senior forward Donovan Ross, who according to College Sports Madness was a preseason fourth-team All-Southland Conference. Ross is Lamar’s top scorer and rebounder. Last season he averaged 11 points and five rebounds a game. Perhaps Lamar’s greatest strength is that it has nothing to lose. The Cardinals have won seven games over the past two seasons and start their 2014-15 campaign with a new head coach and a new coaching staff. No one is expecting them to come into Moody and pull off an upset, so the Cardinals can play with absolutely no pressure on them.
MATCHUP TO WATCH: The tallest player out of Lamar’s probable starters is senior forward Tyran de Lattibeaudiere at 6’6” 210 pounds. If he start’s he will likely play center. Lamar has two other centers on their roster: junior transfers Zachary Hollis (6’8” 251) and LeMon Gregory (6’10” 255). It is a safe bet that that any of those three will be matched up against SMU’s 6’11” 220 pound center Yanick Moreira. Hollis and Gregory may be heavier, but Moreira has greater length and is a superior athlete. If de Lattibeaudiere draws the assignment against Moreira, it should be a lot of easy buckets for SMU.
KEYS TO THE GAME: It should be an easy matchup for SMU, but they can’t afford to overlook anybody and get upset. To prevent that, the Mustangs have to come out and execute their game plan as if they were playing a ranked opponent. They need to get Moreira the ball down low as much as possible and they need to get sophomore guard Keith Frazier involved frequently and early. If Frazier can get into a rhythm and get some shots to fall the easier it will be for SMU to attack the rim for some quality looks. On the defensive end, sophomore forward Ben Moore will likely be on Ross and will need to shut him down. Ross is Lamar’s biggest offensive threat, but Moore’s length should give him plenty of trouble. If SMU comes out and plays there game, it should be just another day in the Coliseum.