SEATTLE – Amid a weekend full of tailgating and football watching, there will be basketball.
Believe it or not, Washington will start the men’s basketball season tonight when it hosts Loyola of Maryland (1-0) as part of the contrived Tip-Off Hall of Fame Classic Tournament, which isn’t really a tournament.
The game also is the start of what will be a solid, but not daunting, non-conference schedule.
Washington has four teams on the schedule – Loyola, Colorado State, Saint Louis and Connecticut – that made it to the NCAA tournament last season. Three other teams – Seton Hall, Cal State Fullerton and Nevada – had at least 21 wins last year. That’s seven of 12 non-conference games, five at home, against teams with 20-plus wins.
There also is a trio of patsies: Jackson State, Cal Poly and Northern Illinois.
No opponent on the non-conference schedule is currently ranked.
But, Washington could get a boost when it plays the only part of the Tip-Off Hall of Fame Classic Tournament that acts like a tournament. The Huskies face Seton Hall next Saturday in Connecticut. The winner will likely play fourth-ranked Ohio State on Sunday. The Buckeyes have to beat Rhode Island to face the Washington-Seton Hall winner.
Washington should not need a reminder of how important the non-conference schedule has become in making the NCAA tournament. Last year, Washington became the first regular-season Pacific-12 Conference champion to be left out of the tournament when it won 24 games but let crucial non-conference games get away because of small errors.
Tony Wroten was told to foul with Washington up three points and less than 10 seconds to play at Nevada, but he didn’t. The Wolf Pack hit a 3-pointer to tie, then won by three in overtime. The next game, Marquette beat Washington by two after a 3-pointer by Jae Crowder went in with 6.3 seconds left. Then Washington lost, 86-80, to Duke to push its losing streak to three games by a total of 11 points.
This year, Washington will try to get off to a good start despite questions about the power forward spot. Shawn Kemp Jr. appeared set to snag the starting position but has a slight tear of the patella tendon in his right knee and will miss six to eight weeks. Washington expects him back by the start of conference play Jan. 5 at Washington State.
Desmond Simmons, Jernard Jarreau and Martin Breunig will divide Kemp’s minutes. All will need to help Aziz N’Diaye rebound. Simmons averaged 4.8 rebounds last season, Jarreau redshirted, and Breunig barely played.
“It’s more pressure, just a little more,” N’Diaye said. “I’ve got to pick it up more because looking on the bench and seeing we don’t have that other big strong dude … we’re going to work it out as a team and find a way.”
UW MEN’S BASKETBALL GAMEDAY
LOYOLA (MD.) (1-0) AT WASHINGTON (0-0)
5 p.m., Hec Edmundson Pavilion, Seattle
TV: Pac-12 Networks. Radio: 950-AM, 102.9-FM
All-time series: This is the first meeting.
Statistics for 2011-2012 unless otherwise noted.
Robert OlsonG 18.104.22.1685.174.7
Dylon CormierG 22.214.171.1246.167.5
Erik Etherly F 126.96.36.1993.069.8
Jordan LathamF 188.8.131.52.664.0
Abdul Gaddy PG 184.108.40.206.069.1
C.J. WilcoxG 220.127.116.11.783.9
x-Scott SuggsG 18.104.22.168.576.5
Aziz N’DiayeF 22.214.171.1242.239.7 Scouting report: Loyola is picked to win the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference after going 24-8 and reaching the NCAA tournament last season. Dylon Cormier, a 6-foot-2 junior guard, led Loyola with 21 points Friday night in a 71-45 opening-night win over Binghamton. Tonight will be the formal debut of Washington’s new high-post offense, which likely won’t be smoothed out until conference play starts in six weeks. Washington will also be searching for some help at power forward after a knee injury to Shawn Kemp Jr. that will keep him out for six to eight weeks.todd.dybas@ thenewstribune.com x–stats for 2010-11 firstname.lastname@example.org