Scouting report: Central Washington
Game info: 7 p.m. Wednesday at Alaska Airlines Arena (10,000 capacity).
Last season’s record: 15-13, 8-10 sixth in Division II Great Northwest Athletic Conference.
Stats/schedule: Click here.
Coach: Greg Sparling, 45, enters his 19th season with the Wildcats. His 312-197 (.611) record makes him the third-winningest coach in the program’s 102-year history. He he trails legendary father-son duo of Leo Nicholson (505 wins) and Dean Nicholson (609 wins) on the school’s all-time coaching victories list. Sparling’s team have made the NCAA Division II tournament in five of the past eight years and eight times in its 15 seasons. A Kirkland native who played at Juanita High, Sparling also played at CWU (1989-91). He took over as head coach in 1994.
Prediction: Picked to finish fourth in a GNAC coaches’ preseason poll.
Series: Washington leads 11-4 in a series that began in 1903. The teams last played a regular-season game in 1943. However, they’ve played two exhibitions in the past 10 years with UW winning both games.
Last meeting: Isaiah Thomas scored a game-high 18 points to lead Washington to a 77-48 win on Nov. 4, 2009 at Alaska Airlines Arena. Quincy Pondexter added 15 points and seven rebounds, Venoy Overton added 11 points while Matthew Bryan-Amaning and Darnell Gant each had 10. Washington led 43-18 at halftime. The Huskies forced 21 turnovers and held CWU to 23.4 percent field-goal shooting.
Previous game: The Wildcats lost 93-56 in an exhibition at Washington last Friday at Beasley Coliseum.
PLAYERS TO WATCH:
— It’s impossible to know how Mark McLaughlin’s career might have unfolded at Washington if he hadn’t transferred to Central Washington. The Huskies sorely needed scoring last season. UW averaged just 67.9 points per game, which was the lowest since the 2000-01 season. No one questions McLaughlin’s offensive prowess and at the very least, he would have likely had a prominent role in the rotation.
“That kid if he plays in any game, anywhere, he’s going to score points,” coach Lorenzo Romar said.
McLaughlin averaged 28.4 points during his 2011-12 season at Tacoma Community College, which was the most among junior-college players.
Last season, he led the GNAC with a 22.8 scoring average. He won the conference’s Newcomer of the Year award and was voted first team all-conference.
In last week’s game against Washington State, McLaughlin had 15 points on 4-for-12 shooting. He was 1 for 3 on three-pointers and 6 of 7 at the line.
Sparling on McLaughlin: “He can flat out score from inside out. He can post up. He’s just a very good guard on the offensive end. If there’s one thing he needs to work on – and he knows it – it’s the defensive side of the ball and he’s making strides at that. He’s trying to get better each day on guarding the basketball.”
— Kevin Davis, a 6-9 forward from Federal Way, also has ties to the Huskies. He was on UW’s recruiting radar for years. Davis committed to Washington as senior at Todd Beamer High when he averaged 21.3 points, 15.3 rebounds and 6.6 blocks. However, academic reasons forced him to attend the College of Southern Idaho in 2010 and Tacoma Community College in 2011.
Davis’ career plateaued at TCC where he averaged 9.3 points and 7.5 rebounds as a backup.
During the 2011-12 season, Davis averaged 11.9 points and 7.3 rebounds and tied for the GNAC lead in blocked shots (62). However, he played just 13 games last season and averaged 8.2 points and 5.1 rebounds.
— JB Pillard, a 6-7 forward, had to sit out last season after transferring from Northwest Nazarene. The former Juanita High graduate was a GNAC honorable mention selection during the 2011-12 season when he averaged 15.2 points and 6.4 rebounds as a freshman.
— McLaughlin is the lone returning starter and one of four players (Davis, Joey Roppo and Dominique Williams) who played for CWU last season.
— The Wildcats committed 24 fouls during last week’s exhibition at Washington State. Six CWU players had at least three fouls and Davis was disqualified.
— WSU dominated the rebounding battle 33-18. The Cougars had 20 offensive boards.
— Central Washington shot 33.3 percent (18 of 54) from the field and 35.3 percent (6 of 17) behind the arc. However, the Wildcats were outstanding at the free throw line where the converted 14 of 17 attempts.
— Senior Jeff Budinich, a 6-10 forward and Montana State University transfer, came off the bench to add 12.
— McLaughlin, Davis and Pillard were voted preseason all-GNAC selections.
F– Kevin Davis, 6-9, 225, Sr. 8.2 ppg., 5.1 rpg., 2.0 bpg.
F – JB Pillard, 6-6, 225, Sr., –, –, —
G – Mark McLaughlin, 6-6, 212, Sr., 22.8, 5.4, 2.3 apg.
G – Jordan Russell, 5-10, 175, So, –, –, —
G – Joshua Lord, 5-10, 155, Jr., –, –, —
(Note: Last season’s statistics at CWU)