Naturally, the scoreboard will be plugged in.
But this will be one basketball game during which Keith Cooper will worry less about the final score than about taking a step toward a more important goal improvement.
Cooper’s Saint Martin’s men’s basketball team, cast as the overwhelming underdog, plays a Washington Huskies team ranked as high as No. 7 in one poll and coming off a trip to Sweet 16.
“It’s all about getting better,” Cooper said of Saturday’s game at Hec Edmondson Pavilion in Seattle. “We’re more worried about us than them. If we focused on them, we wouldn’t get much sleep.”
Four years ago, Saint Martin’s played UW in an exhibition game, losing, 108-74, after trailing 46-39 at halftime. But this is not a battle for redemption, just improvement.
“They’re so much bigger, stronger and faster,” Cooper said. “That’s the difference between (Division I teams) and a good (Division II team).”
Tip-off time hinged on the starting time of the Washington-Oregon football game. With a 12:30 p.m. kickoff at Autzen Stadium in Eugene, Ore., it will be a 5 p.m. tip-off for the exhibition basketball game.
Cooper turned down an opportunity to play coach Lorenzo Romar’s Huskies last year because the Saints were so young. Now, with four starters and a part-time starter back, Cooper thinks the timing is right.
Yet SMU still has only two seniors: center Blake Poole and guard Galen Squiers.
“We’re still young, but at least we’re experienced young,” Cooper said.
With UW’s 7-foot Aziz N’Diaye at center and 6-9 Matthew Bryan-Amaning at forward, the Huskies will have a definite size advantage.
“They’ll be hard for us to match up inside,” Cooper said. “We have good post players against good D-II schools. We don’t have (Pacific-10 Conference) players. But it will be a good chance to see where we’re at.”
The setting Saturday will be familiar – a basketball court with rims set at 10 feet, a court 94 feet long. But in a gym that seats 10,000 and facing a team that’s on TV every week during the season and has produced several NBA players in recent years, no one would blame the Saints for being a little tight during warm-ups.
Cooper isn’t planning on duplicating a scene from the movie “Hoosiers,” in which a coach takes out a measuring tape to show his team the height of the baskets. Cooper isn’t worried about the awe factor or stage fright.
“We’re going to play to get better and get ready for next week’s games,” Cooper said.
The Saints next play The Evergreen State College on Nov. 9 in an exhibition game. Then SMU opens its season at home against Hawaii Hilo on Nov. 12 and Chaminade on Nov. 13.
Against UW, Cooper won’t slow the tempo of the game in an attempt to make the final outcome more appealing.
“We could gimmick it up and slow it down,” Cooper said. “But that doesn’t make us better. We’ll play the way we play. That way we’ll see areas we need to improve.”
This will be the Saints’ fifth exhibition game against a Pac-10 team. SMU lost by four points to Oregon State twice, including 80-76 in 2008. Last year, the Saints lost at Eastern Washington and Idaho in their two exhibition games.
“This is a great opportunity,” Cooper said. “
John and Joseph Ingman, twin brothers who started on the 2008 Capital High School football team that reached the Class 3A state semifinals, have gotten playing time as sophomore wide receivers for Whitworth University in Spokane.
John has six catches in eight games, averaging 16.2 yards per catch.
He had an 11-yard touchdown grab in a 23-7 loss at Redlands on Sept. 18.
Joseph has three receptions in five games, averaging 3.7 yards per catch.
DANIELS SETS RECORDS
Natalie Daniels, an Olympia grad and a junior on Cleveland State University’s soccer team, broke two season records and three career records this season.
Daniels, a two-time all-state selection at Olympia, set school records for goals (9) and points (22) in a season. She also broke school career records for goals (16), assists (12) and points (44).
Daniels was named to the all-Horizon League first team. She was a second-team pick in the past two seasons.
Gail Wood: 360-754-5443 firstname.lastname@example.org theolympian.com/sports/blog