Tonight, the Kentucky Wildcats take on the Northwood Seahawks in the first of two exhibition games for the 2012-13 season. Here is the background information about the Northwood Seahawks:
|Head Coach||Rollie Massimino|
|Home Court||Countess de Hoernie Student Life Center|
|Enrollment||Florida campus: Approximately 1000 undergraduates|
|Colors||Dark Blue and NU Lighter Blue|
Northwood begins 2012-13 ranked #1 among NAIA schools in the NAIA II coach's poll by just one point over last year's NAIA champion, Oregon Tech Hustlin' Owls. They are picked to win the Florida Sun conference, and they went 34-4 last season, falling in the NAIA II national championship to Oregon Tech. This is the second year in a row that Northwood has topped the NAIA II pre-season poll, and has been ranked 1 or 2 in the last 20 polls dating back to the 2010-11 season.
Let's take a look at who's who for the Seahawks:
|0||Maj. Res.||Mike Newton||G||Fr.||5-10||150|
|2||Starter||Tyrone Davis||G||Sr.||5-2||134||Assist leader|
|10||Starter||Tracy Parks||G||Sr.||6-1||162||3 pt threat|
|15||Maj. Res.||Kevin McDuffie||G||Fr.||6-3||164|
|21||Starter||Masse Doumbe||F||Sr.||6-8||235||3 pt threat, leading rebounder|
|23||Starter||Ra'Shad James||G||Sr.||6-1||197||3 pt threat, good rebounder|
|Comments based on game against the Michigan St. Spartans.|
As you can see, the Seahawks start five seniors, in stark contrast to Kentucky's probable starting lineup that will most likely include zero seniors and even zero juniors. These Northwood kids have been playing college basketball for a long time, and that is something to be concerned about. Plus many of these kids are transfers from Division I programs, like Parks (South Alabama), Doumbe (Radford), and Lockhart (Morgan St.).
Another thing to be concerned about is their 3-point shooting. This team has a bunch of guys that can shoot the long ball, and will do so fearlessly. If they get hot from out there, and Kentucky's defense is as suspect as Coach Cal suggests, this game could be very interesting for a while. Note that Michigan St. is a much more mature team by any measure than the Wildcats, and they struggled with this team in the first half.
But where Kentucky does have the advantage is in ... well, everything other than age, experience and perhaps perimeter shooting. Kentucky is much bigger, much stronger, much more athletic and much more skilled. Notice that Northwood's biggest man is 6'8" and 235#, about the same size as Alex Poythress. Everyone else is 6'5" or under.
This is a game I expect Northwood to dominate early, give way midway through the first half, and get run away from in the second. A lot will depend upon how well Calipari can get these young Wildcats to play defense. Julius Mays' experience and leadership could be a very big factor in how this all comes together, as could that of Jon Hood and Kyle Wiltjer.
I see this game as an interesting first contest, but the 'Cats should win comfortably, say 90-56.