Scouting report: Cal Poly
Game info: 6 p.m. Thursday at Edmundson Pavilion (10,000 capacity)
TV: Pac-12 Networks (Kevin Calabro and Detlef Schrempf)
Radio: KJR 950 AM and 102.9 FM (Bob Rondeau and Jason Hamilton).
Stats/schedule: Click here.
Game notes: Cal Poly and Washington.
Coach: Joe Callero is 49-44 in his fourth year with the Mustangs. His career Division I record is 166-149, including a 117-105 mark at Seattle University over an eight-year stint (2001-09). The Enumclaw native and former Central Washington point guard also coached at Puget Sound (1999-01) and Highline Community College (1989-92, 1995-98).
Prediction: Picked to finish seventh in the 10-team Big West in a preseason poll by media who cover the conference.
Series: This is the first meeting between the teams. Washington is 24-3 all time against the Big West.
Previous game: Lost 72-64 at Santa Clara Monday.
- PLAYERS TO WATCH:
—Junior forward Chris Eversley (right), who started his career at Rice, is Cal Poly’s most dynamic player. He’s coming off of a 22-point, 10-rebound performance at Santa Clara. He’s scored double digits in 15 of his past 19 games and enters Thursday’s matchup at Washington ranked eighth among Big West players with a team-leading 15.7 points per contest. Eversley also leads Cal Poly in rebounds (8.0) and minutes (32.7).
He’s had big games against big opponents. When Cal Poly defeated then-No. 11 UCLA 70-68 on Nov. 25 (highlights above), Eversley finished with 15 points, 10 rebounds and two steals. He scored a career-high 25 points at Saint Mary’s on 8-for-15 shooting. He also had 21 points and 10 rebounds against Northern Colorado.
In his first year at Cal Poly, Eversley led the Mustangs in scoring and rebounding last season. He appeared in 33 games and started eight. He sat out the 2010-11 season. The Chicago native played at Rice as a freshman averaging 4.9 minutes per game.
Here’s a video interview with Eversley that includes highlights.
— Freshman forward Brian Bennett may be a star in the future. He’s averaging 10.4 points and has scored in double digits in the past six games. The 6-9, 240-pound big man is an old-school low-post player. He’s shooting 55.1 percent from the field (43 of 78) and he’s 8 of 10 on free throws. Bennett averages 27.6 minutes and 4.8 rebounds. He’s taken just two three-pointers, missing both. He’s not a big assists guy or someone who will get steals or blocks. But he’s a finisher beneath the rim.
—Senior guard Dylan Royer epitomizes a Joe Callero-type of player. The former walk-on was a reserve as a freshman and sophomore before earning a starting job last season when he averaged 7.5 points and shot 46.5 percent on three-pointers. Before the 2012-13 season, Royer was awarded a full scholarship and he’s responded with increased production. He’s averaging 10.0 points and 25.7 minutes. Royer is a three-point specialist who is shooting 23 of 56 (41.1 percent) behind the arc. Royer is one of two returning starters and is one of two Mustangs who grew up near Cal Poly.
—Just an odd one-step forward, one-step back season for Cal Poly. The Mustangs began the season with a 53-46 defeat at TCU and have alternated wins and losses in every game. If the pattern holds up, they’re going to pull off an upset victory at Washington.
— Basketball fans in the Northwest are very familiar with Callero. He’s a builder with a long track record of success at small schools. In his fourth season at Cal Poly, he has the Mustangs trending up. They’ve won 12, 15 and 18 games in each of the past three seasons. However, it’s going to be tough to continue that upward climb this season. Cal Poly lost three senior starters from last season’s team, including all-Big West forward David Hanson.
— Callero has built a team that shares the ball, doesn’t beat itself and is capable of shooting the ball well on the perimeter. Cal Poly averages just 9.0 turnovers per game, which is the fewest among 345 Division I teams. The Mustangs also have a 1.63-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio, which is fourth in the nation. They’ve had double-digit assist in every game and tallied 20 helpers against Menlo College.
— Cal Poly’s leading distributor is junior guard Jamal Johnson, who enters Thursday’s matchup at Washington ranked second among Big West players and 21st in Division I with a 2.86-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio. Also fourth among Big West players with 4.4 assists per game, Johnson – who matched a career high with seven assists against Northern Colorado (Nov. 15) – has kicked down multiple assists in eight of nine games this season and five-plus assists six times.
— Maybe it’s a statistical anomaly, but senior guard Drake U’u is shooting 41.7 percent (5 of 12) on three-pointers and 43.3 percent (13 of 30) on free throws. He is the other returning starter along with Royer.
— Eight Mustangs average double-digit minutes. Senior guard Chris O’Brien started 26 games in 2010-11. He missed last season with a knee injury. He started eight games this season, but was replaced in the lineup by U’u. O’Brien is averaging 4.8, 2.6 assists and 2.4 rebounds. He’s also shooting 93.3 percent (14 of 15) at the line.
— Cal Poly has used two starting lineups. The group (below) started Monday.
F- Brian Bennett, 6-9, 240, Fr., 10.4 ppg., 4.8 rpg., 55.1 FG%
F- Chris Eversley, 6-7, 225, Jr., 15.7, 8.0, 1.1 spg.
G – Drake U’u, 6-5, 215, Sr., 5.6, 2.3, 43.3 FT%
G – Dylan Royer, 6-1, 190, Sr., 10.0, 1.4, 41.1 3-FG%
G – Jamal Johnson, 6-0, 170, Jr., 3.8, 2.6, 4.4 apg.
KEYS TO THE GAME:
— Cal Poly has four players who can shoot the three-pointer so it’s essential for Washington to defend the three-point line. Eversley is an active player and it looks as if Desmond Simmons will draw the defensive assignment to slow him down. Their matchup could decide the game. It’s also important for the Huskies to make the Mustangs guards uncomfortable with harassing defense. Abdul Gaddy and C.J. Wilcox will have a size advantage and it will be interesting to see how they use it.