Legendary UCLA basketball coach John Wooden used to say the true test of a man’s character is what he does when no one is watching.
If he was right, then the University of Washington men’s basketball team might learn something about its character Friday night.
The Huskies play their second-to-last tuneup before Pac-12 Conference play opens, against Mississippi Valley State at Hec Edmundson Pavilion on Friday.
Just don’t expect many fans to watch it.
Not only is the game during the holiday season, when most students are off campus, but tipoff also is scheduled about an hour after the UW football team kicks off against Brigham Young in the Fight Hunger Bowl in San Francisco.
And it’s not like Mississippi Valley State is a marquee opponent, either. The Delta Devils are visiting from Bena, Miss., where they are members of the Southwestern Athletic Conference.
They arrive in Seattle with a 3-7 record – those wins coming against Champions Baptist, Longwood and Tougaloo College. The win against Longwood came by a single point.
However, Mississippi Valley plays an ambitious nonconference schedule that has resulted in lopsided losses of 55 points to Oklahoma State, 24 points to Texas A&M, 22 points to Mississippi State, 29 points to Ole Miss, 17 to Georgia Tech and 22 points to Northwestern.
Meanwhile, Washington coach Lorenzo Romar wants his Huskies to concentrate on their own issues, rather than those of their opponent.
UW fell to 6-5 on Sunday with an 82-70 loss to Connecticut. Washington committed 16 turnovers against UConn after committing 16, 13 and 18 in their previous three games.
“I think it was mostly us,” senior guard C.J. Wilcox said after the UConn loss. “We had a lot of unforced turnovers. When they started scoring a couple of times we started to rush instead of staying patient like we were earlier in the game.”
That’s a trend the Huskies will want to eliminate with just Mississippi Valley and Hartford (6 p.m. Sunday) remaining before the start of Pac-12 play Thursday at Arizona State.
Four of Washington’s first six conference games will be played on the road.
“Right now, we’re not mature enough to handle runs from the other team,” Romar said after the Connecticut game. “We are not mature enough to handle the adversity that comes during a season. We better grow up really quickly.”
MISSISSIPPI VALLEY STATE (3-7) AT WASHINGTON (6-5)
7:30 p.m., Hec Edmundson Pavilion, Seattle
TV: Pac-12 Network Radio: 950-AM
The series: First meeting between the schools.
Mississippi Valley State
SCOUTING REPORT: Mississippi Valley State is located in Bena, Miss. The school competes in the Southwestern Athletic Conference. The Delta Devils are returning to action after an 11-day break. Their last game was an 86-64 loss at Northwestern. Freshman forward James Currington had his first career double-double in that one and led his team in points (14) and rebounds (13). Sophomore guard Cameron Dobbs scored 12 points off the bench on four 3-pointers. Washington also is coming off of a loss: 82-70 to Connecticut on Sunday at Hec Edmundson Pavilion. Huskies senior Desmond Simmons is expected to be available for his second appearance after missing the first 10 games with a knee injury. In his 12-minute debut against UConn, Simmons scored five points with one rebound and a steal. The Huskies have committed 63 turnovers their past four games. The Delta Devils return to action Saturday at Washington State. The Huskies conclude nonconference play Sunday when Hartford visits.Don Ruiz: 253-597-8808 email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org