Hoops Preview - Houston Baptist

SEATTLE - While the rest of the world is thrown into Black Friday, the Washington Huskies launch themselves back into the thick of their non-conference schedule. After losing on the road to Saint Louis, UW (3-1) try to pick up the pieces against the Houston Baptist Huskies (2-3) at 3 pm at Alaska Airlines Arena. The game is not on television, but will be broadcast via KJR-950AM and 102.9 FM.

"Right now, we're getting ourselves together, as opposed to Houston Baptist," Washington Head Coach Lorenzo Romar said Tuesday, trying to make sense of his team's 77-64 loss to the Billikens on Sunday, adding that his emotions ran from frustration to a little bit of irritation, with most of the ire pointed right back at himself for not getting his team as prepared as they should have.

"I just don't know if you could simulate a better situation to expose all your warts and weaknesses than that game," he said. "And they were all there."

Romar said that it's his nature to let his players go offensively early in the season to see what they have, and then pull things back to see if they can still express themselves within the offensive structure. When that dynamic was pitted against a stingy, well-coached Saint Louis defense, the results were often times difficult to watch. SLU held the Huskies to 32 percent shooting in the first half, as they ran out to a 25-point lead. By the time UW figured it out, the Billikens were in cruise control.

Friday, the Huskies face a Houston Baptist team that is giving up 78.4 points per game, but beat Cal-State Fullerton team 88-83 on Sunday. HBU shot 10-19 from 3-point range against a Titans team that included Omondi Amoke and D.J. Seeley, both transfers from California. So it looks like the visiting Huskies will try and keep scoring with the home Huskies for as long as they can. With an average negative assist-turnover ratio (11-16), HBU will have a tough time keeping Washington away from transition baskets, especially if the long shots aren't going in and creating long rebounds.

"We know they'll shoot the three," Romar said of the Huskies. "We know that for sure."

For the season, HBU is 36-103 from deep, compared to 31-68 for Washington.

On paper, HBU's starting five appears strong but young, and their depth is very much hit-and-miss. Against Cal-State Fullerton, all five starters scored in double-figures, averaging 25 minutes each of playing time, but three of those starters were true freshmen. The rest of the team scored seven of their 88 points. They are led by senior center Joe Latas, who is averaging 12.6 ppg and 7.6 rebounds per game. He has one double-double on the season, a 19-14 performance in their other win of the year, an OT victory against Bethune-Cookman.

The rest of their firepower comes from the backcourt. Ronald March, Jr. a 6-foot-4 true freshman guard from Phoenix, is next in scoring, averaging 12.2 points per game. He has scored in double-figures in HBU's last three games. Marcus Davis is a junior college transfer wing who will also give the Huskies some size at 6-foot-5. The other two scoring guards - Tyler Russell and Marcel Smith - are short and quick. Russell checks in at 6-feet tall, while you might miss Smith, who is 5-foot-6. Both are true frosh.

Don't let the relative inexperience fool you; the HBU Huskies are learning on the job. Russell, Smith, and March combined for 54 points against Cal-State Fullerton, and the newcomers have been the ones leading HBU in scoring their last three games.

The Huskies are led by their head coach, Ron Cottrell, who is in his 21st season at HBU. His career record is 398-258, and is the school's winningest coach by 170 wins. Under Cottrell's leadership, HBU made it to the NAIA tournament 10 straight years until they jumped to the NCAA in 2007, where they played their first season as an independent. They've played their last three seasons in the Great West Conference.

This is the first meeting between the two schools.

Notes:
Wilcox Should Be Ready To Play - Washington sophomore guard C.J. Wilcox suffered a concussion Sunday against Saint Louis after running into a screen, but Romar said Tueday that they don't anticipate him missing any game time as a result. "I think he should be fine," Romar said of Wilcox.


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