It’s time for college basketball in the Bluegrass, as your Kentucky Wildcats are set to face their first real opponent of the 2012-13 season, as they are preparing to face-off against the Northwood Seahawks, an NAIA Division II school coached by former Villanova and UNLV coach Rollie Massimino. The game is set to tip-off at 7:00 pm EST on Fox Sports South in beautiful HD. Here’s what to look for tonight when the Cats and the Seahawks tip-off:
A Real Opponent
After spending the entire Summer being coached by John Caliapri, who the freshman likely view as a drill sergeant compared to their high school coaches, this will be the first time the players get to play in a competitive environment in front of a Rupp Arena crowd of likely 20,000+ fans agains someone other than each other. John Calipari will want to see how his player perform under the lights against a veteran opponent and see if they can live up to how they’ve looked in practice and scrimmages.
It won’t be the first big-time college team that Northwood has faced this year, as they played Michigan State on Tuesday, losing 85-57. They feature a vetran team, as the Seahawks have 11 juniors and seniors and are coming off a trip to the NAIA D-II national championship game, and have also been selected as the preseason No. 1 ranked team for the second-consecutive season.
Senior guard Tyrone Davis is Northwood’s all-time leader in assists and steals, averaging nearly eight assists per game, and earning the Sun Conference Defensive Player of the Year award. Senior forward Masse Doumbe took home the Sun Conference Newcomer of the Year award, averaging 17.7 points and 6.8 rebounds a game.
In Northwood’s game vs. Michigan State, Doumbe went for 20 points and 14 rebounds
Domination on the Inside
Northwood’s biggest man who plays significant minutes is Masse Doumbe at 6’8″, 235 lbs, and everyone else is 6’5″ or under. Willie Cauley-Stein is the best big man on this team right now, and in last week’s Blue-White game, he scored 14 points to go with 12 rebounds as he controlled the paint, scored in a variety of ways, and even handled the ball occasionally on the fast break. Expect to see more of that tonight
His big-man counterpart and more highly-regarded freshman, Nerlens Noel, will also take advantage of the undersized Seahawks. In the Blue-White scrimmage picked up 9 points, 8 rebounds, and 7 blocked shots as he displayed his abilities as a rim-enforcer, something that Cats will look for him to do a lot of after they lost the greatest rim-enforcer in school history in Anthony Davis to the NBA.
A more Efficient Archie Goodwin
In the Blue-White game freshman phenom Archie Goodwin led all scorers on the night with 32 points, but it took him 22 shots to get to. Coach Cal nearly ran out onto the floor while yelling at Archie after he threw down a crowd-pleasing dunk in the second-half. Archie told us after the game that Calipari was upset because he’d kept it himself on the fast break, rather than pass the ball to the open Mays ahead of him. Look for him to take more opportunities to distribute the ball tonight while taking less shots and having an overall efficient night.
The latest episode of ESPN’s documentary dedicated to covering Kentucky basketball will be airing on ESPN 2 during the game, so set your DVRs and VCRs(if they still exist) accordingly.