Better Know An Opponent: William and Mary

No, that is not a typo:  I’m not bothering with a football preview this week.  It’s Indiana, for crying out loud.  If we don’t come out pissed off and beat them by at least 3 TD’s then I might as well just go ahead and predict a loss against Sparty next weekend. You can hit up BSD and The Nittany Line if you want a full-fledged preview. I want to focus right now though on the basketball season opener.

WHO’S PLAYING: William & Mary (CAA, 2007-08 record: 17-16)


WHERE AT: The “cold, characterless” Bryce Jordan Center

I CAN’T MAKE IT: Well, you’re in luck.  The Big Ten Network’s televising this one.

BRIEF SYNOPSIS: The “Tribe” is no team to take lightly.  This is a squad that managed to upset VCU in last year’s CAA conference tournament, en route to the conference championship game where they came up short against George Mason and they return three starters from last year’s team.  Additionally, they will get added help at point guard with addition of Arkansas transfer Sean McCurdy who is described as phenomenally athletic and can create shots for his teammates so it sounds like Talor Battle and company will have their hands full tonight.

The Tribe also like to play a slower, pseudo-Princeton style of offense that emphasizes lots of backdoor cuts and 3-point shots.  Actually, they REALLY love three-point shots because they set a CAA record last year with 257 made 3-point attempts.  Look for PSU to try and force the tempo and turn the game into a track meet and attempt to force turnovers with their full-court press and man-to-man defense.  Whoever controls the tempo of this game likely gets the win.

Height will also be an issue for our guys as William & Mary boasts several guys 6’7″ or taller who have excellent shooting range including forward Danny Sumner who shot 47 % from downtown during last year’s conference tourney run.  If the Tribe are allowed to run their offense, it could be a long night for the Fighting DeChellises defensively as they will have to pick their poison of easy points in the paint or wide-open perimeter shots.  So once again, I can’t emphasize it enough, PSU needs to come out pressing from the get-go to throw the Tribe out of rhythm and rattle their psyche.

The line on this game is 10.5 points in favor of the Fighting DeChellises.  That might be a tad high if you ask me, given our uncertainty with interior defense (let alone defense in general) and the Tribe’s shooting ability.  Not to sound like a broken record but the key to this game tonight will be tempo, tempo, tempo.  If PSU can get its fast-paced style of play going from the start and jump out to an early commanding lead, it will make life much more difficult for the Tribe and their slower-paced style of game to crawl back.

Given that this is the season opener, there will likely be plenty of kinks being worked out and the Tribe are a serious threat to pull the upset if PSU comes out lethargic.  However, I think the team is more on the same page than they would be at this time of the year thanks to their exhibition games in Canada back in September.  For that reason, I’m taking PSU to win this game by about 12-15 points and cover the spread.

I also would like to announce that for the second straight year, I will be involved in a “Pick the Spread” contest for the basketball season.  I originally tabbed fellow PSU hoops blogger Crispin and Cream to replace my friend John, whose blog Rants From The District was shut down earlier this year.  Recently, however, John has expressed interest in firing RFTD back up and entering the contest again, so it looks like we’ve got ourselves a little menage-a-trois this year.

John(RFTD) and C&C are both picking William & Mary to beat the spread which means Yours Truly will either be ahead or behind both of them after approximately 8:30 PM ET tonight.  In the meantime, enjoy the season opener, and get your ass over to the BJC if you are close enough.


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