It looks like the HU athletic department is going to do most of the work for me this year when it comes to previewing games. On the wonderful new official site, there is a full 5-page .pdf file previewing the UALR game this Saturday. Presumably, they will do this for every game, so I’ll probably just fill this space with my own comments and anything I see that looks strange or otherwise notable.
Now, my notes on the UALR game:
This will be just the second game in the brand-spanking-new Jack Stephens Center in Little Rock, which is the new home for UALR’s basketball program. The stadium is located right on South University, so it’s very easy to find (get on I-630 like you’re going to War Memorial Stadium or Park Place mall, but go the other way on University). It also looks a good bit smaller than the Alltel Arena, which will make it a better game atmosphere. The link takes you to a great flash tour of the arena. Hopefully we can make it as loud as possible for our side.
UALR is a two-time defending champion in their division of the Sun Belt Conference, which is a mid-major D-I conference. I’m guessing that they’re moving our game to the exhibition season to help their RPI, with the hopes of a potential at-large NCAA Tournament berth if they have another good season. The Trojans are not an elite team, but they’re capable of shutting down just about any Division-II squad.
The projected starters listed in the official release were interesting to me, since it revealed our starters at point guard and center (Reggie Bibb and Alassane Savadogo), and it also said that Ceso Sprewell is ineligible to play until December 10th. That’s somewhat of a blow to the team, as effective as he is inside, especially because our four non-conference South Region games are all before December 10th. Those games, if we win them, go a long way toward determining our regional rankings, which in turn determine who makes the NCAA Tournament in March. In for Sprewell will be Patrick Andrepont, who was one of the players I didn’t really have much information on in the preseason. I suppose we’ll learn a lot on Saturday.
As I’ve said before, I hope everyone has reserved tickets for the game and is planning to make the trip. It’s always fun to play a Division-I team, exhibition or not. We’ll get another shot at a D-I school in the regular season (in Ceso’s first game back with the team), when we face Northwestern State (Louisiana) of the Southland Conference.