I should have posted this entry sooner considering Sunday’s early start in Seattle, but it’s been a busy day. Besides we’ll get a chance to see who’s really dedicated to the Guess the UW Score contest.
We know huskylenz is a baller. He won the very first contest two years ago and again last season in Washington’s final game of the season.
It didn’t take him long to get on the scoreboard this season. He predicted UW would beat Portland 93-67. The Huskies won 93-63.
Congrats. Let’s hook up before Washington’s game at Arizona State or Arizona and grab a hot dog and soft drink on me.
Alright let’s move on.
Washington at Saint Louis, 9 a.m. (CBS Sports Network)
SE Missouri St. at Oregon, 2 p.m.
Western Michigan vs Colorado, 2:30 p.m.
Washington St. at Portland, 7 p.m.
Picks: Oregon, Colorado and WSU
AND THE UW-SLU WINNER IS …
The Billkens 68-64.
Here’s my preview for the newspaper.
We documented Washington’s struggles on the road against non-conference opponents so it shouldn’t surprise anyone if the Huskies lost this game. Given their 0-8 losing streak in the first ‘true’ non-conference games, it would be surprising if they won today.
In recent years, Washington lost close games like this against tough, defensive-minded opponents. The Huskies had chances to beat Texas A&M and Texas Tech on the road, but couldn’t close the deal and floundered in the final minutes.
We’ll see if UW has learned from past mistakes. Only a handful of Huskies played in last year’s game at A&M. Abdul Gaddy and Darnell Gant started while Terrence Ross and C.J. Wilcox – who missed a critical three-pointer with 17 seconds left when UW trailed by 1 – came off the bench.
“Playing on the road takes quite a bit of focus, especially if you’ve never done it at this level,” Wilcox said. “Most of it is mental and how you prepare for it. You have to create your own energy, and usually that comes from the bench (and players) who are freshmen.
“More than anything else, you have to stay together as a team. When things go wrong, you have to stay close to each other. It’s definitely different than playing at home. It takes some getting used to having people — grown men and women — cheering for you to fail.”
Saint Louis (2-0) is no gimme. The Billikens, which haven’t allowed an opponent more than 42 points, and coach Rick Majerus, a defensive whiz, can be kryptonite to coach Lorenzo Romar and the Huskies who are averaging 87 points per game.
The game figures to be a test of wills. Washington likes the uptempo game and Saint Louis wants to slow it down. This could be one of those old-fashioned UW-Washington State matchups when Tony Bennett coached the Cougars. The Huskies struggled in those half-court oriented games and expect Majerus to follow a similar blueprint.
“I hope we can score on a regular basis because the teams that they’ve played so far haven’t had much success scoring against them,” Romar said. “I just know they’re going to be very physical, and it’s going to appear that there’s about seven to eight Billikens on the floor defensively, so we better be prepared.”
The points came fast and easy for the Huskies in three impressive home victories against mid-majors. That’s not going to happen Sunday. Washington is going to have to execute in the half court. The Huskies will need to limit its turnovers use its height advantage to pressure the Billikens into offensive mistakes.
Gaddy and Tony Wroten Jr. should wear down junior point guard Kwamain Mitchell. He’s a three-year starter so he’s not likely to rattle, but he’s 5 foot 10 and surrendering at least five inches to UW’s guards.
Washington has similar advantages at every position and it’s easy to envision the Huskies putting it all together and racing away with a historic win on the road against a tough non-conference opponent.
But history says otherwise.