The highly anticipated debut of new Washington State Cougars basketball coach Kyle Smith is finally coming to fruition tonight. The new-look Cougars take on the Seattle Redhawks as we all finally get a look at just what #Nerdball is all about. You will be able to check out the game if you have the Pac-12 Network (not always a guarantee as we unfortunately know) at 6 p.m. PT.
The Redhawks finished 7th in the WAC last year with a 6-10 conference record and an 18-15 record overall. Head coach Jim Hayford’s squad returns 5 seniors including 3 double figure scorers. Morgan Means leads the way at 14 ppg while Myles Carter averaged 12.9 ppg and 7.9 rpg. Junior Terrell Brown is the primary playmaker who averaged 14.1 ppg and 4.5 apg last season. Brown and Carter were both on the pre-season All-WAC first team. Means made the second team. The Redhawks are picked to finish 3rd in the pre-season WAC poll. This is a pretty decent test for Smith’s first game as the Redhawks are an experienced team expected to compete for a league championship with a well regarded coach.
Smith and the Cougars are likely to coalesce around Wooden Award watch list candidate CJ Elleby. I would expect to see a lot of grad transfer Deion James and JC transfer point guard Issac Bonton making an impact as newcomers. Forwards Marvin Cannon and Jeff Pollard should also get a lot of run as returnees from last year’s squad. I’m personally very curious about both the pace of play and defensive improvement we will see under Smith. Should be a fun one to watch as the Cougars take on a in-state team with postseason aspirations.
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