Wednesday, January 10, 2007
The Bulldogs have a road date Thursday in Honolulu to take on Hawaii, gametime will be 9pm. The Dogs will be facing their 2nd consecutive WAC opponent coming off of a loss, this being a Warriors squad that has lost there first 2 WAC contests away from the friendly confines of the Stan Sheriff Center where they have a 7-1 record at this season. Hawaii has defeated the Bulldogs 5 out of the last 6 at home and will look to add to that in a key conference matchup. The Bulldogs are coming off of a 79-70 victory over Utah State in which they played a spectacular 1st half but did not impress in the 2nd. This will be the first opportunity for Coach Steve Cleveland and the Dogs to show just how much this team has grown since their early season struggles on the road.
A look at Hawaii:
Hawaii is led by 6'6" Senior guard Matt Lojeski, who comes in averaging 18 ppg and has scored 20 or more 7 times this season. The versatile Lojeski (5.4 rpg, 4.8 apg. on top of the 18 ppg) will be joined in the backcourt by Junior Matt Gibson. The Warriors have had trouble with athletic teams this season and Coach Riley Wallace utilized a 1-2-2 zone to counteract the athleticism in Las Cruces against New Mexico State. It was successful for Wallace and the Warriors, just not enough to come away with a road victory. Look for Hawaii to go to the 1-2-2 at times to try and disrupt the Bulldogs and to take away the driving abilities of Forwards Quinton Hosley and Dominic McGuire. The Warriors used that same zone in last years matchup versus the Bulldogs in which they came out victorious 73-65. Hawaii will also look to push the ball in transition to try and take advantage of the Bulldogs when they take quick shots. They will look to not only drive it to the rim but also take early looks from 3 in transition.
Just as Utah State came into SMC, the Bulldogs will be facing a desperate Hawaii team that does not want to start 2007 WAC play 0-3 (Their last being 2001) in Coach Riley Wallace's final season. The Dogs have not fared well on the road to this point in the season, but much has changed since the last road trip, and lets hope the changes are evident Thursday night. Officiating will be crucial, especially in the first 5 minutes of the contest because of FSUs thin bench.
F Dominic McGuire will have to be selective of the shots he chooses to attempt to block in the early going, having him sit on the bench and watch will bolster the Warriors chances immensly. The Bulldogs must also avoid long scoring droughts in which they either turn the ball over or feature 3 points shots exclusively. Some of those droughts have been overcome thus far in the season, mostly due to being at home and opponents not taking advantage by having poor shot selection. Cleveland must call a timeout very quickly if Hawaii makes a 6 to 8 point run.
If the Bulldogs shoot the three well, yet do not fall in love with it, and add to that a low turnover total, they will be fine in their first WAC road contest. Problems will arise if they have more than 10 turnovers and attempt more than 25-28 threes. Guard Javance Coleman has put 3 solid efforts in a row together at home, now is a chance for him to extend that in a hostile environment. The Dogs need both Quinton Hosley and Dominic McGuire to attack the rim and get the line where the team must shoot 70% or better from. That tandem also need to continue their combined 20 rpg efforts and limit the Warriors 2nd chances. They will also need help from Eddie Miller off the bench not only defensively but hopefully he can add 6-10 points to the mix.